Navigating one’s career has as much to do with managing a boss as it does with being productive and getting results. Anyone who has ever had to manage their boss knows this is difficult yet important for job security and career advancement.
The boss has a responsibility in this too. In fact, more and more managers are now judged as much on how they manage downwards as how they manage across and upwards throughout an organization.
There’s a saying that people join a company due to its reputation and they leave because of a manager. The manager who leaves a wake of high attrition is bad for business, since experts claim it can cost companies up to twice an employee’s annual salary to find and train a replacement.
So how can managers become better bosses? It means a manager who invests time and energy in helping their employees grow and prosper. And a manager people want to work for because they feel valued and have an opportunity to be successful.
The best managers are those who hold their people accountable for the work, but they connect with the humanity we share. They demonstrate true concern for their people and connect by being present.
Being present means in regular one-on-one meetings, they actively listen and focus on how they can help. They are there to serve the best interests of helping their employee perform the job. They are there as a guide, a confidant, an advisor and a motivator.
Nothing can raise employee engagement more than an engaged and present boss. That’s because people feel valued when the person responsible for their success is regularly involved. This means more not less contact, but the quality of the contact is what is most important.
Top Five Ways to Motivate Employees
- Communicate (listen) – Stop using email to communicate whenever possible. Your people will be motivated more by hearing the words come out of your mouth than reading them on a computer screen. And be sure you actively listen rather than do all the talking. Let them know they are being heard.
- Take a genuine interest in their career – All of us want to know that our boss is looking out for us. Don’t wait for that annual review to tell them what they did well and where they need to improve. Make this a routine conversation to help you understand them and reach their individual career goals.
- Empower them – None of us can grow and become a stronger leader if we are not empowered to make decisions at our level. Enable your employees to determine how to best accomplish their tasks, yet hold them responsible for the results. Trust that they will find the best solution to problems until you find evidence to the contrary.
- Be a role model – Nothing speaks louder than the actions you take as you conduct your business. Your words will mean little if they contradict your actions. Hold yourself accountable to the same standard you hold them.
- Seek to inspire rather than micro-manage – In order to thrive, employees are best inspired by a vision for what is to be accomplished. This means presenting a goal that is more than a simple date on a calendar or dollar amount on a spreadsheet. Make the value appeal to their intrinsic interests.
Motivating employees is perhaps one of the most important and challenging aspects of managing others. It is not taught in business school, yet every manager can become better with practice.
All it takes is attention to being the best boss you can be. If you do this well, you may find your boss taking note and becoming better too.