New Year’s Resolutions for Managers
In the west, we have a tradition of making new year’s resolutions at the turn of the year. The below listed resolutions can be a new way of changing life, this time our employees’ life, in a positive way, bringing a breath of fresh air to the everyday work routine.
Normally, new year’s resolution involve getting fitter, redecorating home, learning a new language or be more caring toward our family and friends.
I do not believe in having to wait for a specific day to change and improve aspects of my life but, this year, I have decided to jump on the bandwagon (sort of) and make a list of things that I wish would change in the work environment so to improve the quality of life. Those are all work-related situations, attitudes and dynamics that I have experienced in Vietnam, the UK, Australia and Italy, and that I hope managers would add to their own new year’s resolution agenda.
1) Start acknowledging and rewarding success
This is a common mistake that even ‘good’ managers can make. Since it is expected that, if you hire someone to do a job, they should do it, it is easier to focus more and act upon shortcomings or mistakes. It is not so easy to reward or simply to take five minutes to congratulate someone for a job well done. We all like to hear encouraging words or to receive perks (or, why not, a promotion) because we are good at our job, but this problem goes beyond egos or money. Even organizations that implement the best work life balance policies can end up demoralizing or losing valuable staff if they do not consider the importance that rewarding employees can have on their life, in and outside of the workplace. After all, even the most workaholic and self-motivated individual will slowly care less, feel resentment toward their superiors and, eventually, change job if all they hear is what they have done wrong.
2) Trust, delegate and empower your employees
Unless you have hired an entire team of minions (in which case you should really rethink your recruiting standards), the chances that your employees would want their voices to be heard, or to feel challenged, or to be empowered are quite high on their motivation spectrum. I am a self-motivated person that does not see the point of doing a job unless it is done properly. However, there is nothing that makes me disengage faster and lose respect for my superior than when I constantly have someone checking what I am doing and, even worse, when my feedback or ideas are always disregarded.
3) Stop compartmentalizing employees’ roles
In all the countries I have worked, a job description and person specification are always way higher than what the actual job entails. I remember reading the description of a position I already had in London and thinking that, based on what was listed in the post advert, I did not meet all the requirements. HR departments do this to attract the best candidates and to weed out the ones that do not feel confident in their expertise. Yet, managers often do not utilize the skills and knowledge of the employees that HR has painstakingly selected. It takes time and good managerial skills to identify individual strengths and develop well-rounded professionals. It is much easier to assign the same tasks to the same people and watch them marinate in excruciating boredom and stress until they either quit or stop caring. If you think I am exaggerating, take a look at a 2006 research by psychologist Saqib Saddiq about which people in the UK suffer most stress at work. The result was shocking for the research revealed that librarians were the most stressed out of the bunch because they felt that their skills were not used and they had no control over their career developments. That’s right. In the long run, these are more stressful than chasing armed criminals or fighting a blazing fire!