Great leaders are intent on improving the quality of the work and the life experiences of those they supervise. Unfortunately, great leadership is not always the norm. We all have had experiences with poor leadership and that is why finding a good one is so refreshing to many of us. Weak leaders routinely will use the talents and skills of others to further their own careers, not yours. I naively believed that just my own hard work and effort was enough to improve my situation in the organization and be noticed by my upper superiors. It was not. Weak leaders are only too happy to show their bosses how much they saved the bottom line and cut the fat but unwilling to show appreciation or provide support to those who had to pick up the extra load and often do the work.
Poor leadership comes in many forms, and while not always easy to describe, we all know it when we experience it. The result of weak leadership for a staff is an unbalanced work/life situation, higher absenteeism, more turnover, lower morale, and often the loss of a quality product at a much higher cost to the organization. This is why developing strong positive leadership is so important for any organization to be successful whether it be in athletics or business.
What can you need to do to help produce quality leadership and an enthusiastic staff that is bought into building a positive culture and fulfilling the mission of the organization? Approaching this situation correctly, it can be an educational one for both leadership and staff. Positive leaders are in high demand and can save an organization thousands of dollars in hiring, operational and support costs. Organizations can be well served by taking the following steps to improve their skills in many of those placed into leadership.
Start with empowering employees to speak up, ask questions and voice concerns and issues with their superiors. Employees should be their own best advocate and demand the organization recognize their true value. Communication with their immediate supervisor will allow a staff member to take positive steps to help them reach their full potential and have the success they strive for.Stifling communication leads to distrust and dissatisfaction among your staff. Leadership and the employees both share responsibility for developing a meaningful and well-intentioned conversation.
Insist that leadership place the interests of the staff before their own. Leaders should communicate daily the value of the role each employee plays in the success of the organization and impact they have on the goals of that organization. By communicating the importance an employee plays in the success of the organization you demonstrate value and respect for the service they provide. Create a positive sense of community where every member has a voice no matter their role in the organization. Be transparent with your decision making and let staff know what they have to share is important.
Employees improve with coaching and today’s worker craves it. Especially the millennials who thrive on feedback and clear and concise directions. Three fourths of all employees have said that their performance improves with consistent feedback. Let your staff know you welcome them to make appointments and discuss both personal and professional concerns. Be an avid listener and not a lecturer. Encourage your staff to be creative thinkers and welcome their thoughts about out of the box suggestions that might make a positive difference in your organization. No one knows the job as well the employee doing it.
Great culture and atmosphere in a department starts with the hiring process. Know who fits your culture and what intangibles you require for them to be successful in your organization. This requires you and human resources to be on the same page. A great looking resume does not always translate into a great employee. Being a good teammate within the staff happens through proper coaching and mentoring. Is the candidate the type of person who is receptive to that?
Make sure you are doing all you can to create, develop and encourage a happy workplace. Recognition is important for staff. Institute honest feedback and reward systems. Some of the best recognition is peer to peer. It can improve motivation and keeps your valued staff happier. One of the best things a leader can do is hold effective and efficient meetings. Do not waste time trying to show everyone how smart you are. Do only what is necessary to get the job done. Staff meetings with no structure can be very harmful.
How often do you say the two words most welcome in any organization, Thank you? Staff will work their tails off for someone who is kind, honest and appreciative in their approach to them. You can be critical as needed to employees if you are empathetic and understanding and give them a chance to respond with why they might be under producing. Provide written and transparent action goals and hold regular status reports. Leadership who fails to listen, provide direction and lacks empathy, soon lack employees. And replacing them is costly both in dollars and productivity.
Leadership is a tough role and not everyone is cut out for it. Balancing the drive from high ups to meet expectations with the realities and ability of the staff to produce them is stressful. But leaders who develop an engaged and motivated team is likely to produce at a 25% more productive and profitable rate than those who do not. Leading a staff is hard work. Each leader over time will need to develop their own personal style of leadership and create the most effective way to communicate, provide transparency and oversee accountability within the group. EMP has experts who can assist you in developing a positive and motivated leadership team.
Always remember to appreciate, celebrate, and elevate good staff members!