In previous writings I have given instruction on the importance of clear expectations and accountability when it comes to dealing with team members. So in turn, what expectations should your team have of you? What is a fair expectation from subordinates, and do you understand those expectations? How are you held accountable to your team?
As a manager you need to communicate with your team and make sure you understand what it is they need from you. As a manager you will always be held accountable by your team, even if not to your face. By understanding what each team member’s expectations are, you can begin to try and offer a tailored level of support to each team member that fits them and their specific needs. While no two people need the exact same support structure, I will address the two most common complaints I hear when asked, what could their manager do better?
Number one is: Support. As managers, sometimes we get caught up in all the day to day activities and forget that our team counts on us for support, guidance, or sometimes just as a sounding board. We need to understand that at times members of our team may be drowning, but may never ask for the proverbial ‘life preserver’. I have always been someone who tells it like it is and is never afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I need help”. However, it seems more and more common that people today don’t want to udder those words.
You need to take the time to understand what personalities exist on your team. Once you understand who will always ask for help when needed and who will not, you can start to put together a communication plan.
You will find that some team members will require constant assurance that they are doing well, or guidance due to lack of training. Others may be 90 percent of everything you need, but are afraid to ask for help. If you do not spend time communicating with them, by the time you find out who they are, it will be too late. I am not saying that these types of team members are any less valuable, just that they need more support in the day to day operations.
Some team members require very little support. They are highly motivated, well trained, and their views and philosophies run a close parallel to yours. These team members will require very little support from you but they are also the most dangerous. The reason being, that it is easy to forget about them. They don’t call you and they don’t require much direction. You just point them at the goal line and they will score every time. However, if you don’t take the time to let them know how appreciated they are, they can quickly become disconnected and possibly disgruntled. They may start to feel taken advantage of and begin to look around for another career path, which brings me to the second biggest gripe from subordinates: Feedback.
Lack of feedback is the number one reason employees will jump ship. Once again, as managers, we get bogged down and lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with people, not machines. I never give much thought to what people think of me, and I am very confident of my abilities. However, even I can start to question my worth to the company if once in a while I am not thrown a bone. It is not required to pat someone on the back every time they do a good job, but the more often you do, the happier you will make your team. And a happy team is a profitable team.
Most managers have the misconception that money solves everything. I know of companies that give raises to employees without ever even talking with them. No review, no communication, just all of the sudden more money in their check. This blows me away! I will never understand giving anyone more money without having them sit across my desk and the two of us going through an entire evaluation process. I make sure they know what they are doing outstanding, what they are doing well, and where they need to improve. Only after a new set of expectations and accountability are in place will we discuss an increase.
Stop! This doesn’t mean that money is what matters. In fact when over 40,000 people were polled in a National study about what motivates them at their job, money placed 7th. That’s right! 7th. My colleague Dave Cloniger, wrote a great blog detailing ways to motivate your team. http://mcdean-charleston.blogspot.com/2011/09/employee-relations-steps-to-success.html. In this blog he hits it right on the head. Most people just want to know what to do, when to do it, and did they do a good job? There are multiple ways to do this without spending money. I share everything with my team and therefore, they all understand the financial constraints we are up against right now, and have stepped up their efforts, with no compensation. I never hide the financial picture from them. They know when we hit a home run and when we strike out. This fosters a win-together/lose-together mentality. I never let them forget how much their efforts are appreciated, and I look for small ways to reward them for their devotion to the company.
It’s all about feedback. Letting them know when they do something right as well as when they do things wrong. Let them know what the expectations are and what will happen if they are not met.
In the end, if you can conquer providing individual support and feedback to your team, you will have made it to the red zone and then across the goal line. It’s only fair that your team holds you accountable to their expectations the same way you expect them to fulfill your expectations.