Just like everyone else, bosses hope to do their jobs well. However, it is a balancing act and a difficult one at that. Managers must earn their employees’ respect, keep everyone on task, and of course, run their organizations efficiently and profitably. And all the while, situations constantly change, so sometimes supervisors must make difficult and unpopular decisions.
Although there is no perfect boss (or perfect employee for that matter), there are some proven strategies used by high-performing leaders. These three concepts can help any manager improve relationships and, therefore, the productivity of the entire team.
According to the current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, the first thing leaders should do is “to bolster the confidence of an individual and a team.” Empowerment involves inspiring employees and fostering trust, but sometimes there are contradictions. A manager must decide when to add responsibilities versus taking responsibilities away when to encourage risk-taking versus “playing it safe,” and when to demand more versus asking for less. It all depends on individuals and circumstances. There are no easy answers, only intuition.
It is easy for anyone to get stuck in their own head. However, to communicate and lead effectively, managers must take their employee’s view into account. Unfortunately, leadership, in general, tends to diminish perspective taking abilities. Despite this, there is good news. Adam Galinsky, a professor of management and organization at Columbia Business School, conducted a series of experiments in which he found the combination of authority and perspective taking was synergistic. High-power participants who made a concentrated effort to see different points of view were better at understanding alternative perspectives than their low-power peers (Persuadable, Al Pittampalli). Here is the caveat. Bosses must continually remind themselves to consider things from the other side.
Humans tend to overestimate their own skills and performance. Although this phenomenon, illusory superiority or better-than-average effect, makes us feel good about ourselves, it deters our ability to grow and improve (Live Science, 2013). So, how can managers overcome this handicap? The solution is external feedback. On the flip side, humans are quite good at assessing the performance of others. Obviously, this sounds intimidating. Who wants to hear negative comments about themselves? Nevertheless, anyone who actively seeks constructive feedback and acts on the advice will have a distinct advantage. As a supervisor, you may argue this sounds great, but it is impossible. Your employees would never provide honest assessments. This is where anonymous online survey tools may be helpful. For example, Google’s internal Upward Feedback Survey, which does not impact performance evaluations, has been quite successful.
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