I often see posts on various social media outlets about how people feel frustrated and unappreciated at work. They want to be in an environment that is supportive and fair. They long for a leader that allows them to reach their potential and helps to promote teamwork. Simply put, they want to get up each day and want to go to work. A happy employee will always give you more productivity than you expect – an unhappy one will always give you less.
So, how can you accomplish this? Well, the first question should really focus on whether you are willing to make the changes necessary. In many cases, it involves leaders giving up control. That is incredibly difficult for some people. One could assume that people who are in leadership positions like to be in control. Quite the contrary. Successful leaders do not have control as their primary objective. Rather, it is the success of the company and specifically of their team that is paramount. Therefore, by allowing people to reach their potential and by creating a healthy work environment, you will organically get the most out of your team and that in turn will allow your company to have the best chance at success.
I have always had the motto “hire the best people available, give them the tools they need, and get the hell out of the way”. Let’s break that down. Hiring the best people is done by providing competitive salaries and benefits, providing a work environment that promotes work-life balance and encouragement and ensuring you are not just filling seats. Giving them the tools they need obviously includes actual tools and training – it also needs to include giving them a voice. Their opinions should matter. Of course, you should also challenge them to offer well-thought out solutions to challenges that they raise. And they should understand the reason why their ideas may not work. A blanket no will only let them know their voice does not matter. And then of course, get out of the way. Do not micromanage them. If you feel you must stand over their shoulder, you have not hired the right person, you have not provided them the tools they need, or you are not willing to give up control. All of these are anathema to achieving the goals set forth in this conversation.
Finally, don’t hold back on complimenting your team for their success and encouraging them in their attempts to be successful. If they fail, don’t let them feel defeated. Show them how to learn from their mistakes. One way to do this is to let them see your mistakes. You know you make them. Don’t hide your mistakes from your team and admit when you have made one. You can teach by example when you reveal how you recover from them. This will be the most powerful mentoring tool in your arsenal.
We all want to work in a great environment. As an enlightened leader you have to ability to create that for your team. Embrace it and you will be amazed at the positive results it will bring to your team, your company and you.
Mark G. Vincent – CIO, Millennium Technology Group