Alistair Cox, CEO, Hays, has cautioned leaders to be fair on their staff. He has suggested some business leaders can demand too much from their staff, especially when under pressure. However, in order to instil trust and loyalty amongst employees, managers must examine how they treat their workforce. Alistair says it is important that managers understand the impact their behaviour can have on their workforce. He asks leaders to question if they are sometimes guilty of the following traits:
1. Do you find yourself barking out orders more than you should?
When giving orders to staff, leaders must find a balance between empowering their workforce with the task in hand and simple delegation. Often managers can confuse the two and just dictate basic instructions, which can demotivate staff.
Alistair says, “Bring staff into your thought process and have open discussions about tasks at hand, why they need doing, how they form a part of a bigger jigsaw and how to achieve them. And, importantly strike the right balance between giving them room to tackle tasks their own way and providing guidance on how goals can be achieved.”
2. Are you too quick to punish mistakes?
When working under pressure it can be easy to react quickly to a mistake without first allowing someone to explain themselves. Even when mistakes are made, leaders should instead be looking at it as an opportunity to make sure it doesn’t happen again rather than opting for a harsh punishment.
Alistair comments: “We’re all human, and frustration can get the better of us at times. Equally, your staff are human too and they are going to make mistakes. So, instead of flying off the handle, give them the opportunity to explain themselves and make a real effort to identify the root cause. Understand whether gaps in knowledge, skill or attitude are behind a difficult issue.”
3. Do you limit feedback and coaching to annual performance reviews?
Alistair questions whether staff reviews are always given the attention they deserve when leaders are busy and have lots of other priorities to contend with, suggesting that if this is the case, there needs to be a change in approach.
Alistair adds: “Reviews shouldn’t be treated simply as an opportunity to nit-pick mistakes or weaknesses, nor a box-ticking exercise. Rather, they’re a chance for you to take stock of and discuss an employee’s performance, say well done and provide clear guidance and support on how you can work together to tackle the areas which need improvement.”
4. Do you neglect to take an active interest in the lives of your staff?
It is important a leader recognises their team as individuals, and in order to do so, they must take the time to go beyond a surface-level relationship. While a professional relationship must always be maintained, a manager who ignores the personal lives of employees, is ignoring half of their well-being.
Alistair says: “Communication is key to engaging staff. By discussing a range of topics (whether work related or not), your communication channels are automatically broadened and you will both feel more comfortable. Over time, you’ll find that dialogue that might have once felt stilted now flows better and that both sides empathise with each other that little bit more.”
Alistair concludes: “As busy leaders, we sometimes forget that it’s often the simple things that have the biggest impact on our teams and how they feel about coming to work every morning. People work for people, not faceless organisations after all.”