For many new managers and supervisors, the most difficult issue they face is engaging their employees. New managers often assume their role with little or no real training.
We know that the number of disengaged workers is growing upwards of 75% making being effective as a manager difficult. How to get through to a difficult employee is often a frequent question. How can we better understand and influence our team members in a positive way? This article gives some excellent ways to more effectively work with employees to engage them and empowers them to be upstanding team members.
Building influence is more than having authority. An influential manager is one who exudes confidence, gains trust and inspires others to reach their fullest potential. Most new managers mistake being assertive as being aggressive. This management style is problematic because it creates a fear-based environment where employees are afraid to ask questions, share their opinions or speak up.
There’s a difference between being confident in the things you believe in and trying to intimidate others to do what you say. Not to mention, an aggressive leadership style demonstrates a lack of confidence in your workers.
Ben Walker, CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, said “if you show that you have confidence in your employees, they will have that same level of confidence with you too.” On the contrary, employees lose confidence in their manager and the company they work for when they don’t feel trusted.
Here are four ways new managers can build influence and win over the trust of their team.
Being Personable, Transparent And Relatable
New managers are often eager for a quick win to prove themselves and will make changes without first talking with their employees. It’s not until their plan has failed, which according to CIO happens 40% of the time, that they try to involve employees but quickly realize they’ve already lost their trust. Not only have they wasted everyones time by doing what’s already been done, but they didn’t value their team members enough to gain their feedback or to observe what’s working and what’s not.
Likewise, managers who isolate themselves from team members and only associate with other managers quickly create a divide between themselves and the rest of their team. To prevent this, new managers should prioritize building relationships with their team members first. They can do this by:
- Sharing experiences to make themselves more relatable
- Talking freely with employees to create a more comfortable, welcoming and friendly atmosphere
- Communicating goals, their vision and the excitement to work together to achieve them
- Taking the time to get to know employees and asking them for feedback on what they’d like to see as well as what they consider to be challenges and strengths of the team
- Including employees and making them feel apart of the decision making process rather than keeping them in the dark
Amie Devero, executive coach, said managers can break the ice when joining a new team by saying something like, “I realize this may be strange because you all have history and know each other and I’m new here. It’s as weird for me as it is for you. So, I need your help to get acclimated and I’m counting on all of you to bring me up to speed with the team’s work.” Employees will see a genuine effort is being made and will be more inclined to provide input, share experiences and help the new manager acclimate.
Modeling The Behavior You Want Your Employees To Embody
Most managers operate on a “do as I say not as I do” mentality. They delegate tasks without showing employees how to do them leaving employees to fend for themselves. Then, when mistakes are made, employees are punished. Therefore, employees are reluctant to go above and beyond for fear of being reprimanded. Yet, managers are oblivious to the environment they’ve created and will penalize employees on performance reviews for a lack of teamwork and not contributing more.
Whether positive or negative, the behavior of the manager ultimately influences the team environment. Managers need to lead by example. If they want their team to be innovative, collaborative and high performing, then they need to exhibit behaviors that encourage that. The managers with the most influence are the ones who treat everyone as if they’re on the same playing field and have no problem doing the grunt work.
Blame cultures start at the top when managers and leaders refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes. New managers can set an example by owning up to their mistakes and openly admitting them to their employees. From there, they should use those mistakes as learning opportunities and coaching moments.
Managers can encourage collaboration by scheduling more brainstorming sessions. Some companies have designated areas called “Think Tanks” where employees can meet to generate ideas quickly and turn them into a strategy.
Having Excellent Communication Skills
Communication is a two-way street. New managers often communicate plans and expectations but fail to solicit feedback from their employees. Employees are more likely to get behind a new manager if they feel included, valued and that their voice matters. More often than not, new managers make changes without considering how their employees will be impacted or gaining their feedback of whether it’s been tried before. This is the quickest way to lose influence as a manager.
Communication should be frequent and consistent whether it’s sharing updates, through one-on-ones, having team meetings, seeking feedback or following up. Having excellent communication skills also means having the ability to listen. John Howard, founder and CEO of Coupon Lawn, shared “if you listen and respect each of your employees’ opinions, you create an atmosphere of mutual trust and mutual respect.”
If an employee is struggling, it’s the managers responsibility to offer support and make sure they have the tools and resources needed to succeed. This can be done through training, feedback, coaching or promoting collaboration. Managers who don’t regularly communicate with their employees erode the trust of their team. Employees crave consistent and constructive feedback to improve. Constructive feedback instills confidence in workers by reminding them of their strengths while offering improvements. Whereas, destructive feedback neglects their progress and focuses on the mistakes they’ve made and where they failed.
Communicating a vision is more than just the generic sentence that’s written on the company’s website. It’s breaking it down so it’s more understandable by each member of the team. Every decision and every action should lead toward the vision. Accordingly, managers should take the time to communicate the vision and goals of the company and how the work employees do contribute to that vision.
Building A Culture Of Recognition And Growth
Creating a culture that promotes harmonious collaboration and development is an effective way to establish influence. Alejandro Rioja, growth-minded marketer, shared “the most important aspect of building influence is by providing opportunities for growth and personal development. Your team feels valuable when they are able to enhance their skills and get a chance to build on their knowledge.” He added “the key is to enable employees to learn transferable skills that they can make the most of in different positions.” When employees see how much their manager values their development, they’re more motivated to do their best work and not let their manager down.
David Weingot, owner of DMAC Security, expressed, “managers should be promoting their whole team, and not just themselves. In fact, they should focus more on promoting their employees and give them the shine that they need.” Similarly, peer recognition is an invaluable way for team members to recognize each other for their contributions. Not only does this create a culture of connectedness but it keeps employees motivated.