Peter Drucker says, “The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager.” This isn’t to say that no responsibility lies on employees, but that performance and productivity gaps can often be remedied by improving managers.
So what happens when employees don’t take their managers seriously? How can they be expected to lead a team when there isn’t that level of mutual respect?
Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem.
Here are 6 tips to consider if you want to make sure that your employees take their managers seriously:
1. Promote the Right People
Imagine working for someone who doesn’t know the realities of your job, and isn’t motivated to learn. Not so great, right?
Leaders with these characteristics are often disrespected and can stem conflict between them and their employees.
By promoting people who don’t show the right type of leadership potential, you’re shooting yourself in the foot as a business leader.
Choose your managers wisely. Take the time to create a list of criteria for promotion, and use your best judgment to select high-potential future managers. Now that you have a set of characteristics to look for in an ideal leader, don’t settle for less.
Spotting high-potential future managers can only be done by studying those in your talent pool — so make sure to set aside time to be “on the floor” with your employees.
2. Give Your Managers Tools They Need to Lead Effectively
If someone doesn’t know how to swim, you can toss them in the river, and hope they will make it back to the shore. Some people will figure it out, but
- not all of them will
- not everyone who succeeded will enjoy the process
- it’s probably not worth the possibility of losing them to the stream
Similarly, you can promote someone to manager and assume they’ll be fine — but you’re setting them (and yourself) up for failure.
Provide your managers with training solutions that help fill the natural gaps in their abilities. Being a good manager and leading a team is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to all people. Fortunately, almost anyone can practice and learn to apply skills like delegating, providing feedback, and discipline effectively if they have the right tools to begin with.
Some companies choose to let employees choose their own training solutions. By doing this, they’re almost guaranteeing that each manager is “speaking a different language”.
Choose a solution that will create consistency across departments, and encourage managers to continue to grow.
3. Train Your Managers to Communicate Effectively
Great communicators are far more likely to earn the respect of their team members.
The first step to effective communication is listening to others and understanding what they have to say. People just want to be heard, so sometimes that’s the missing piece when workplace problems aren’t solved well.
While listening to others is important, what exactly the manager says and how they say it is crucial as well. Train your managers to communicate clearly and concisely because people are highly unlikely to follow vague and complicated directions.
When a manager crafts a short and simple message and considers the team member’s interests, there is less room for confusion and miscommunication.
4. Make Sure Your Managers Are Addressing Difficult Work Situations
A natural human reaction to uncomfortable situations is avoidance.
Sometimes managers are swamped with work and can’t find time to address the problem. Other times, they are intimidated by a conflict and might not know how to approach or resolve it. Finally, they may not be ready to jeopardize friendly relationships with the team members.
Avoiding these situations shows employees that their manager:
- Doesn’t care about them
- Is not a strong enough leader to solve the problem
- Has no interest in improving or maintaining a good workplace culture
The above opinions make for jaded employees who don’t respect their managers. A good leader resolves conflicts effectively, and is able to handle touchy issues with skill and nuance.
5. Enable Your Managers to Hold Your Employees Accountable
Holding people accountable means setting expectations, following up on them, and — while doing so – focusing only on facts.
Some companies like to think that their core purpose is to operate like one big family. It makes people happy to feel like they are in a safe home-like environment, and can be fantastic for workplace culture.
The downside here is that too casual of a culture can lead to people feeling comfortable showing up late, being unengaged in their daily tasks, and representing the organization poorly in front of clients or outside stakeholders.
A work environment needs to be safe, friendly and full with mutual respect amongst team members. With that being said, there also needs to be rules, boundaries, and clear expectations.
By applying the same set of guidelines and expectations to all team members, you manager will create a more professional atmosphere and boost the overall culture.
6. Expect Your Managers to Give & Receive Feedback
It’s easy for managers to criticize or give blind praise, but neither is nearly as effective as high-quality feedback. If an employee knows exactly what they need to improve and how to go about improving, they’ll be able to make the right adjustments.
Train your managers to differentiate between the 2 types of feedback, and administer them accordingly:
- Feedback to reinforce (used to acknowledge what has been done effectively)
- Feedback to improve (directed towards correcting what could be improved)
With the right approach to feedback, there is no need for team members to guess if they are doing everything right or feel under-appreciated. There’s only room for improvement.