- People are willing to pick job satisfaction over good pay.
- Nothing contributes more to poor employee morale than excessive disciplinary action.
- Getting to know your team members’ personal interests promotes employee retention.
I would be rich by now if I had a dollar for every time a client said to me, “I try as much as I can to avoid having any contact with my management team,” or “Management only calls me inside the office when there’s a disciplinary action against me.” For team members to do whatever it takes to avoid contact with the leadership of any organization is not a healthy relationship. Rather, healthy human interaction is the main currency in business, especially when it comes to employee and management relationships.
Managerial and leadership practices are predominantly people-driven. Anybody, whether in a position of authority or in a customer service role, who lacks people skills should consider hiring a business coach to sharpen their soft skills or else change to a career that requires less human contact. The general consensus is that most people don’t necessarily leave organizations because of work demands or other conditions but because of bad bosses. This is obvious when you consider big corporations that went out of business or were facing employment-related legal battles as a result of poor management, which reflected how they treated their team members and customers. Simply put, people are pillars of any organization. It is important to note that the earlier you recognize how critical human connection is to your business, the more stable your workforce will be. After all, as we are living in a world of learning machines and artificial intelligence, human connection is still central to a highly functioning workplace.
Consider these five common mistakes people in positions of authority make:
- Thinking you know more than your employees. When people in positions of authority are quick to remind their team members of their managerial position in the company, such conversations can automatically turn into a monologue, diminishing subordinates’ ability to engage in dialogue. For one thing, nobody has a monopoly over intelligence. No one has all the knowledge that is important to success. One of the keys to a healthy manager–employee relationship is the “H’ word—humility. It takes humility and mutual respect to honor each other’s presence and contributions to the company’s well-being.
- Thinking that respect automatically comes with the title. Respect has to be earned; it is never bestowed. Just because you have a title to your name does not mean you are superhuman. You still have to prove yourself to earn respect in the position you occupy. On the other hand, team members automatically respect the office (not the person that is occupying the office) until the person proves otherwise. Team members also lose respect for their superiors when they don’t stand up for their employees when such an opportunity arises. It speaks directly to a basic tenet of human relations—people naturally gravitate toward those who show any sign of care toward their well-being. People in a position of authority who exercise this virtue have a higher chance of creating a healthy work environment with minimal work conflicts.
- Trying to discipline employees into becoming productive workers. Micromanagement is never a healthy means of encouraging productivity in the workplace. People feel psychologically suffocated when their supervisor is constantly hovering over their workspace whether physically, virtually, or psychologically. For one, being known as a micromanager or disciplinarian in the workplace is a turnoff in itself. One approach to avoid micromanagement is by empowering employees to take initiative for their work. For many people, autonomy encourages creativity and innovation, and they are at their best when left alone to do their work. Those who need additional training should also be respectfully and collaboratively reviewed. Taking unwarranted and avoidable disciplinary action is always a distraction to the overall workforce.
- Only approaching employees when there’s a work-related problem. It is all too common a practice for management to only approach employees when there are performance, attendance, or dependability issues. At the same time, management comes short in the areas of recognizing good employees and honoring employees’ family concerns or health issues. This creates a gap between management and employees. One way to remedy the situation is to develop a habit of celebrating and documenting employees’ contributions, no matter how isolated the contribution appears to be, and show that you care about your employees by properly addressing them and their needs.
- Addressing employees as subordinates, not as team members. Sometimes, the way you address or label people determines how you treat them. In substance, labeling is a powerful predictor in a relationship. A simple gesture of referring to people by name can humanize a relationship and create a psychological sense of inclusion. Authority figures who are struggling with this could openly discuss it with a trusted colleague and ask them for accountability support whenever they refer to employees in ways that undermine good relationships. Be intentional, mindful, and proactive about it.
Managerial and leadership practices are more about being people-oriented and not so much about technical skills. In other words, most organizations thrive as a result of the level of organizational culture that promotes soft-skill interactions as opposed to technical skills. Each skill, whether technical or soft, has its place. One skill type does not necessarily outweigh the other.
People flourish in a healthy environment that includes basic human-to-human interactions and sharing based on life experiences. Restricting team members from being free in the workplace makes such interactions difficult, leaving tension and speculation to hover between team members and their managers.
In summary, to promote more effective manager-employee relationships, recognize that your employees know more than you think they do; don’t rely on organizational titles as sources of authority or respect; instead of micromanaging employees, empower them; avoid the disciplinary action that saps employees’ energy and motivation; and refer to employees by name rather than by any impersonal labels.
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