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One of the most valuable resources of a company, if not the most, is its workforce. The direct correlation between the general disposition of the employees and business success is often overlooked or taken for granted. But in most cases, it’s the unhappy employees who deliver less.

So how do we get our employees to perform better?

In a study titled Optimal Hours with the Boss, research showed that employees who spend six hours a week interacting with their direct boss are 29% more inspired, 30% more engaged, 16% more innovative and 15% more intrinsically motivated than those who spend only one hour per week.

What does this mean? Employee engagement or productivity is hugely affected by the interaction between the manager and the employee.

Workers feel more engaged when they feel a sense of mutual respect between themselves and their boss. When the workplace dynamics go beyond giving and taking orders to a feeling of trust that the employee is competent in his/her job, it encourages the employee to be proactive.

Workers feel more empowered when they feel a sense of mutual purpose. When employees present a problem to their boss and are met with support and encouragement instead of being deprived of the opportunity to demonstrate their problem-solving skills, they learn to take initiative.

When workers feel accountable for issues pertaining to the business or the office, they feel a high level of psychological ownership; they feel as though they are not merely employees in a company but that it is “their” company, too. Having this sense of belonging gives the employee a strong sense of responsibility towards their job.

So, as leaders, how do we elicit these feelings in our employees?

  1. Establish an open and honest relationship with your staff. In other words, make them feel they are free to speak up about issues in the workplace and that it’s safe for them to do so.
  2. Make it clear that they won’t be judged or reprimanded for sharing their opinions and that you’re genuinely interested in what your employees have to say.
  3. Value their feedback –giving this kind of attention can be considered positive reinforcement because then the employees feel important, in which case they become more engaged.

According to Richard Axelrod in his book entitled Terms of Engagement, there are certain characteristics found in companies with a high-engaged workforce:

  • Accountability is fully distributed throughout the organization.
  • There is collaboration across organizational boundaries because people are connected to the issues and to each other.
  • Creativity is sparked when workers from all levels and functions contribute their best ideas.

This paradigm shift, from being a distant, passive boss to an engaged leader, may take more time and effort, but it will likely make a world of difference in the way your employees feel about their work. Ultimately, they will feel a greater sense of responsibility towards the company and have more motivation to perform better.

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