Know Your People
When we talk about knowing your people, there are two ways that are critical for you to be an effective leader. First, know what kind of an employee each member of your team is in terms of their daily work habits, their actions, their values, and beliefs. What motivates them to do well, and what things cause them to shut down? What type of working environment do they prefer? How is each of them viewed within their peer group? Are they informal leaders that others look to for guidance and advice, or are they quiet followers? What makes each of them unique in the workplace?
As their leader and manager, if you haven’t taken the time to learn all these facts and don’t have a solid grasp of these important dynamics for each of the people that report to you, then you don’t possess critical tools needed to be an effective manager or leader. This detailed knowledge of each person that reports to you enables you to be a far more productive manager by:
- Assigning the right tasks to the right people
- Teaming up the right people on projects to maximize the probability of success
- Structuring effective training for both hard and soft skills
- Building each employee’s self-esteem
- Creating a true team environment that pulls out the best in each member
- Creating an inclusive work environment
The second way to know your people is to know their personal lives. What non-verbal message do you think is sent to an employee when their direct manager knows little to nothing about their personal life?
Knowing details about your people’s personal lives shows that you value them and care enough to know things about them. Learn about such things as their spouse, children, hobbies, etc.
Certainly, some people are very private so inquiring about their personal lives needs to be done in the course of a natural conversation without creating a weird or uncomfortable situation. If your employee doesn’t voluntarily talk about their personal life, make sure you are asking at the appropriate moments, and in the appropriate settings.
Provide Constant and Continual Feedback
This is where you take off your “boss” hat, and put on your “coaching” hat. This is where you are intentional and engaged with the work of building up your employees, and thus your entire team. Separate yourself from other managers and supervisors at your organization that only provide formal feedback during the company’s structured or mandatory review periods.
Providing continual and on-going feedback to your employees should become a habit and a natural thing for you to do as a coach. Seek out and take advantage of every interaction with your people as an opportunity to build a positive relationship. Pay attention and actively watch for the moments to point out the things they have done well. Don’t make a big deal about it, that could seem artificial or staged. A quick, sincere, comment made in passing about some positive thing you noticed will be remembered by your employee and can have a tremendous effect on their attitude, self-worth, motivation, and dedication to you and the team. However, as you already know, big accomplishments or milestones should, of course, be much more than just a passing comment.
If you have established a history of recognizing your people for things done well, even in small ways, they will be much more receptive to your negative feedback or discipline when those things need to be done.