Everyone can benefit from a really great team. But how can you create and cultivate one?
Managing employees is an incredibly important job. It's about more than making sure the work gets done. To be an excellent manager, you'll need to understand your employees, look out for them, and build a strong foundation of trust.
Feeling nervous? Don't worry—we'll walk you through how it all works. Here are our top 9 tips for managing employees and keeping everything running smoothly.
1. Encourage Input From Your Employees
One way to make your employees feel heard and keep them motivated is to ask for their input whenever appropriate. Even if the question goes beyond what they usually do, you might be surprised by their ability to rise to the occasion.
When you ask for input, make sure to do it in a non-pressuring way—it's not a test or a new responsibility they have to take on. It's just a way of showing that you value their opinion. And if you decide to implement their idea in your plans, this can remind them how important they are to the team.
2. Support Your Employees' Careers
What are your employees interested in doing in the long run?
By asking about this and keeping the answers in mind, you can get to know your employees better. And if you come across opportunities to support their goals (for example, inviting them to a meeting they would be interested in), this can help keep your employees engaged in the work.
3. Practice Transparency
People like to be in the know about what's going on. Before any big changes take place, give your employees plenty of time to get used to the knowledge of what will happen.
You might think that keeping things from your team will allow you to move more efficiently. But it can also give off the impression that you don't care about their involvement. If you keep people informed at every step, you're giving them more reason to feel stable in their jobs—big changes won't happen without plenty of advance notice.
4. Be Empathetic
Has an employee of yours been falling behind on work assignments? Showing up late to work?
Your first instinct might be to figure out how to “nip this in the bud” and show the employee that this isn't acceptable. But that isn't always the best approach. It won't hurt to try to be empathetic about it, at least at first.
You might find that you can gain valuable information about your employees by noticing when they are falling behind and genuinely asking what's wrong. If it's a personal reason, they might not feel comfortable telling you, and that's okay. But it might be something about the demands of the workplace or a feeling that they're unsure about the quality of the work they can produce.
If this is the case, you can work on changing this together. And even if it is a personal reason, you can demonstrate empathy by being flexible about workload for a period of time. The trust this builds is often worth it.
5. Managing Employees is a Skill You Can Build
Have you ever felt unsure about your natural talents as a manager?
Well, the good news is that being a manager doesn't have to be something you're just born with. As long as you're committed to learning and improving as time goes on, you'll be able to manage employees with the best of them.
At the end of every year, reflect on your own progress as a manager. What have you accomplished? How have you made others feel?
6. Acknowledge Progress
Some managers rely on critique rather than praise. But even if this is your usual style, it's important to acknowledge progress and great work from time to time.
Every person reacts to critique differently. Some might be motivated by it, while others can internalize it and become more anxious in response. Keep an eye out for the latter and consider changing your approach if you see this starting to happen.
If you celebrate the progress your employees have made, this can help them ruminate less on any mistakes or failures. It can put them in a better position to hear criticisms without taking them as a permanent judgement on who they are.
7. Make Space to Debrief Safely
When your employees come across a problem with the workplace dynamic, what options do they have to speak up about it?
If you've been working under the assumption that “if anything's wrong, people should just say it,” you might be missing more than you realize. Lots of employees stay quiet out of fear of losing their jobs.
You can counteract this in many ways, including a robust HR department, an anti-discrimination team, and anonymous feedback forms. But in the meantime, a simple action to take is to debrief after meetings and schedule one-on-one time to talk about issues. Emphasize that you won't use employees' complaints against them—and make sure you follow through on that promise!
8. Distribute Power
As a manager, you might feel like you have to do all the major things yourself. But you might find some relief for yourself (and excitement from others) if you distribute some power to your employees.
For example, when making hiring decisions, consider including employee representatives from all levels in the hiring process. Or at your next team meeting, you can ask one of your star employees to take the lead for the day. As always, keep the pressure off and make these as “opt-in” as possible.
9. Manage Your Own Stress
How have you been doing lately? Have you been stressed out? And if so, have you transferred any of this stress onto your workers?
Sometimes when managers feel deadlines creeping up on them, they dial up the pressure on their team. If this sounds like you, it's very important to make sure you time-manage well and seek out creative solutions. Otherwise, your problems will soon become everyone's problems.
Build an Amazing Team!
Managing employees can seem like a lot of work, but you just might find that the greatest rewards are in the work community you create. As a manager, you have a lot of say in what kind of workplace you show up to every day. So make sure it's a great one.
And for help with your specific management questions, just ask! We'd love to help you grow.