Managing employees involves a delicate balance of productivity, focus, and good interpersonal skills. Sometimes managers can feel like they are expected to be good at everything. The effort gets easier through the cultivation of habits and tools for performance improvement. Good practices start with a lot of time and energy and then become second nature. Forming good management habits also means getting rid of bad habits. As we look at good and bad habits, think about how you can implement these tips into your workplace.
Good Management Habits
Starting a habit takes determination and practice. Determination is preserved through reminding yourself repeatedly of the good reasons you are forming a habit and the consequences of not following through with the new practice. Begin with some of these good habits.
- Be open to creativity. The best leaders are quick to spot and implement new solutions, wherever they come from. Most workers and fellow managers just want to stick to their job, but keep an eye open for creative employees who think of new solutions to old problems. Be willing to change “the way we do things around here.”
- Communicate well and often. Teams work together through communication. When you are frustrated about a lack of compliance, consider whether you clearly and frequently communicated your expectations.
- Listen. Build a habit of listening first. In every conversation you have with an employee, challenge yourself to listen more than you talk. They don’t need to know everything you have to say, but they do need to know you care and are addressing, or at least empathizing, with their concerns.
Bad Management Habits
- Being a know-it-all. Leading does not mean being the best at everything. It means knowing where to turn for the best solution to any problem. You do not have all the answers, and it is a common bad habit of managers to think that rank equals knowledge of the truth. Sometimes the one who actually works the task 40 hours a week knows better.
- Holding paperwork above people work. People are always more important than paper. Leaders who know this have the happy side effect of increased productivity. Spending more time with spreadsheets than people and giving a half-baked effort at employee relationships is a good way to keep employees bitter and unsatisfied.
- Micromanaging employees. If someone can do a task 60% as well as you can, delegate responsibility to them and forget about it. Sure, you might want it done exactly your way, but that’s an unreasonable and oppressive expectation to place on employees. Don’t micromanage. Employees tend to fill the shoes they’re put in. Always being suspicious of their activity will harm productivity. Trusting them more than they deserve garners more responsibility from workers.
Starting these habits will launch you on a road to increased productivity, a better work environment, and less work-related stress.