A few days ago, I published an article titled, “7 Management Traits That Will Make All Your Employees Quit.” Now it is time to look at the other side of the coin. The previous column sparked a tremendous conversation surrounding leadership. Several commentators made the point that they don’t think bad leaders are capable of change. I’m not so sure about that. I think people can evolve professionally and as a leader, just like they do elsewhere in life. Consider this quote from, Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach of the Green Bay Packers, “leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” I believe that with some effort put forth everyone can improve their leadership skills. That said, here are some managerial traits that good leaders exhibit that I think will encourage employees to stick around for the long haul.
A good manager gives his/her employees the tools they need to be successful. A bad manager assigns tasks with little or no direction, and then becomes upset when the employee doesn’t meet the expectation. Remember the Seinfeld episode where George doesn’t hear his boss’ instructions, but he is too afraid of what his boss might do if he asks for clarification? He spends the whole week pretending to know what to do. Two words come to mind here, lost productivity. Be approachable so your employees feel they can ask questions.
Understand and Harness the Power of Praise
Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective tools for a person in a leadership role. One of the biggest complaints from people that hate their jobs is they never receive any credit for a job well done. If you want your employees to like working for you and to perform their best, try giving them an atta a boy every once in a while when they do well. Nobody likes to work in a thankless environment.
Lead By Example
If you want your employees to take you seriously you must lead by example. If they question your work ethic, integrity, or skill to get the job done, then they are far less likely to do their best work themselves. As a leader you need to be blazing the path for success. If you are one of those managers that comes in late and leaves early, then you might want to rethink the example you are setting for your employees.
Show Appreciation by Hosting Some Team Building Events
Too many companies have cut out the Christmas party. Even if you don’t do a Christmas party, you should put on some events throughout the year to show appreciation and increase morale. If there are budgetary concerns just do something simple. My company has an employee pot luck once every couple of months. Employees bring in dishes from home and then management buys the rest at a local grocery store. It is far from extravagant but the employees really enjoy it. It is a great way for the employees to get to know one another and feel a sense of community at the work place.
Listen to Your Employees
Make sure your employees voices are heard. In order to foster an environment of innovation, management must be open to their employees ideas. Nothing stifles progress more than shooting down your employees every idea. Pretty soon they will not even offer them. This will lead to stagnation within your company. Also, consider distributing an anonymous employee satisfaction survey. This will measure the temperature of your employees. If there are action items that need to be addressed they can be identified and action can be taken to improve the work environment. Companies that don’t survey their employees are running the risk of never knowing what the problems are within the company. Thus, they have no way of fixing them.
Be Generous by Offering Incentives for Longevity
Studies show that companies that offer incentives for longevity have a greater retention rate. Whether it is a raise, bonus, additional time off, a better title, or a combination of the aforementioned, incentives for long tenure should be a part of your employee retention strategy.
Just like in my previous article when I discussed how nobody likes a micromanaging jerk, they don’t like a wimpy pushover for a boss either. You can be authoritative; and, still go about it with integrity and respect. Your employees need to know that there is someone very competent at the helm. I guarantee you that Lombardi’s players knew who the boss was, and they respected him for the hard work he put in.
Well there you have it. Last time, many of you said that you learned the most from a negative experience on what not to do. Can we learn just as much from a top performing manager as we can from the worst one? I also heard from a lot of you that were like me, and; had an experience with a bad boss. Have you had an experience with a good boss that has helped you develop your own management style? If so, what attributes did they exemplify?
“Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase it, we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi. – John White