In First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman argue, “… if employees’ relationship with their managers is fractured, then no amount of perks will persuade employees to perform at top levels.” It seems to be a universal truth. Workers will achieve more if they like and respect their boss.
This is easier said than done. Managers walk a fine line between authority and camaraderie. However, there are several tactics that any leader can use to gain ongoing allegiance from their team.
Everyone in a company needs to have a clear vision. They need to know what the goals are and why they are important. Founder of The Table Group, Patrick Lencioni emphasizes that goals must be specific. “Profit is not actionable enough. It needs to be more closely related to what [employees] do on a daily basis.”
Assign Meaningful and Challenging Work
Meaningful work complements employee goals. Workers are far more likely to buy into the mission if they know why they are doing defined tasks. In addition, managers should encourage employees to try new things and stretch their abilities. Of course, it is important to combine challenges with the knowledge and the tools for success. This promotes worker confidence in a supportive environment.
Human beings naturally tend to keep score, but extensive corporate evaluation systems can backfire. A genuine thank you or moment of recognition from a supervisor often has more staying power. Employees should receive feedback on a regular and ongoing basis, and whenever possible bosses should emphasize improvement over criticism.
Foster Trust and Freedom
Rigid systems hinder productivity and creativity. Employees who feel as though they are “in on things” and valued members of the team will be more empowered. Obviously, rules and boundaries are required, but, ultimately, workers should believe their bosses trust them, and they should trust their boss.
“Do as I say, not as I do” is not a recipe for leadership success. The leader of an organization must hold themselves accountable to the same if not an even higher standard as the employees. For example, workers will be unwilling to put in extra hours if their boss arrives late and leaves early on a regular basis.
Despite all the best intentions, managers often must make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. In these cases, the Golden Rule still applies. Bosses who treat others the way they would like to be treated are far more likely to cultivate a loyal following.
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