Many managers tell me that they want to get closer to their staff to motivate them and keep them enthusiastic in their jobs, but they lack the social skills to determine how best to do it.
Some express the concern that they feel isolated from their teams, even though they might actually be working in the same office. So what’s the best way to enthuse and motivate staff, without giving the impression you’re micromanaging them, or running the risk of ‘looking over their shoulder’?
The old method of ‘managing by walking about’ has been tried by many, but there can be that awkward feeling that you’re interfering with your staff’s work, or the fear that they think you’re continually checking up on them. How can you carry this out without making it appear overbearing? Here are some tips:
Build trust and understanding with your staff first: If you start trying to get closer to them without doing this first, they’ll wonder what you’re up to. Make it a natural progressive step by discussing work schedules, identifying goals and building trust first
Listen more than talk. Identify what’s on their minds and let them open up to you. Don’t be judgemental in any way, or they’ll not trust you and certainly won’t open up
Look for examples of good work. The old saying ‘catch someone doing something right’ is a good adage here. Try to find something good to say without being patronising. They’ll see through you if you imply you’re happy they arrived at work on time! Find something specific and thank them for the good effort
Conversely, look for examples of development needs. If you see they are struggling with some area, or the quality of work isn’t up to the standard you were expecting, discuss what needs to be done to assist them in developing the skill or eliminating the poor performance
Watch how they react with other team members. If you see they are happy and productive when with their team mates, but clam up and go silent when you turn up, that should be sending you specific messages. Don’t try to be ‘friends’ with them, if that’s not your natural style. Be friendly-professional and you’ll find they start being more relaxed in your company
Find out what personally motivates them. In your ‘walking about’ sessions, you can discuss what actually drives them and what makes them tick. As you listen to their concerns, you’ll notice specific areas crop up more than others. Does the person need more attention from you? Is their work being recognised? Have they got a personal development plan lined up so they can see how they can progress in the department or company? Each person will be motivated differently from their colleagues, so match the discussion to the driver
Managing by walking around is a great opportunity for you to keep up-to-date with people’s challenges, concerns, abilities, learning needs and strengths. Use these times to encourage your team to develop and communicate effectively as you improve the service you offer to your customers.
Head of Training and Development
Originally published: 23 June, 2014
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