In these tight economic times, would you like to know how to boost morale, increase motivation, and decrease turnover without breaking the bank?
How To Lead in Tough Times
When the economy is down and business is tough, a manager’s first tendency is to seek new ways to be efficient. Efficiency is good, but pushed too far, the human cost can outweigh the financial benefits of efficiency.
Perhaps you should stop trying to run a tight ship and start thinking about the welfare of the crew members.
It turns out that your people are less enamored with your business acumen (e.g. that you can move them around on a spread sheet to squeeze out another couple of bucks) than they are with your concern for them. When they know that you will look after their best interest, you will have their loyalty.
Motivation as the Key to Efficiency
Jack Mitchell wrote a wonderful book for leaders who reject the idea that efficiency is all that counts in management. In Hug Your People: The Proven Way to Hire, Inspire, and Recognize Your Employees and Achieve Remarkable Results he suggests the following:
Treat your Employees like Associates: No, seriously–treat your people like colleagues that deserve respect (because they do). And, don’t just talk about it. Let your actions speak for you.
Get to Know Them Professionally and Personally: Your associates will gladly support leaders who care. They will be cautious with cold-hearted managers who would kick them to the curb to save a buck.
Have Fun with Your People: You can enjoy working with your associates, and if you do, they are more likely to be more motivated.
Have Expectations and Standards, Not Rules and Regulations: Rules are stifling, but expectations breathe life without crippling motivation. Bad managers love to enforce rules. In contrast, good leaders let expectations manage people.
Know the Difference Between Employees “Working For” You vs. “Working With” You: The former is hierarchical. The latter is collegial. In the former, you check up on them to make sure they are doing their work. In the latter, you check in to see how you can help.
Discourage Reliance on Yourself: Good leaders want their people to grow and succeed without them. They encourage decision-making because they want followers to grow. Good leaders are pleased when their people succeed (with or without them).
Would You Want To Work for Jack Mitchell?
Who wouldn’t want to for a manager that truly cared about his people? Wouldn’t your manager get the best out of you if he treated you this way? But these are not techniques to trick employees to be motivated for the sake of efficiency. They are heart attitudes and they must run as deep as familial affection or patriotic ardor. You cannot fake concern for your people.
Mitchell summed up the core of his philosophy as follows:
Relationships are personalized–this means that people engage one another as real people rather than as job responsibilities. They get to know Ralph not as a shoe buyer but as someone who likes to go Kayaking and has eight-year-old twin girls. Michael’s not accounts receivables, but a marathoner who loves mango pudding.
When you care about your crew, you will not have to worry about running a tight ship. Take care of Ralph and Michael, and they will take care of you.
-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.
December 3, 2012
Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University