Whether you work in sports or in the corporate world of widgets, there are usually employees to hire, fire, and manage along the way. In my former life as an employee, I learned some valuable lessons on employee management.
Treat employees like grown-ups. Yes, even if we act like kids sometimes. We don’t want our dignity insulted. We don’t want our every move monitored or recorded. We are adults and deserve to be treated as such.
Allow a high level of personal accountability. Absolutely, positively, DON’T micro-manage us. We understand the need for a certain amount of accountability. After all, you are our employer and you have responsibilities to your Board of Directors or shareholders.
Micro-managing drives everyone crazy. If you staff full-time sales people, just know they’re a free-spirited bunch and don’t respond well to massive amounts of paperwork or too many calls to monitor their progress. They have bills to pay and they know what to do.
The President of the last company I worked for went through every piece of mail that came in. She called it “Mail Release Procedure”. That is not the best use of a leader’s time. Let us do our jobs. We know what to do and if you’ve trained us right, we know how to do them.
Celebrate holidays and other special events in simple style. At my last company, we didn’t celebrate any holidays and you can imagine the morale level in that company – there was none. If you’re an employer reading this, please, please provide some kind of festivity for your employees for certain holidays and throughout the year. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy or ethnic, just a simple pizza lunch or breakfast tray will do.
I worked for one employer where the morale was so high; it was actually fun to work there. We had home-made food fests frequently, ornament decorating, and a company-wide gift exchange during the holidays. Summer clothing was a bit more lax and the company shut down during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. And guess what? We still got a ton of work done.
Make meetings productive AND fun. It is possible to do both. The meetings at one of my employers were dreadful, boring, dead, and very routine. We all sat in the same places EVERY week. We did the same thing every time in exactly the same order. It was agonizing. I would mentally plan my weekend and still keep on track. Employers, mix it up…please. Even if you have old school thinking, you can still produce a meeting that is fun and productive. It’s o.k. to laugh in a meeting. You’re probably thinking, why should a meeting be fun, it’s work. From an employee’s point of view the answer is: so we’ll want to be there.
Encourage each person who is willing, to share a light detail about their life such as: name your first job and how old were you? What’s your favorite online shopping site? And, questions about pets always liven up the room. You’ll learn a lot about your employees too. We are people, not employee # 1111.
Offer incentives. Sales teams are used to this concept. Most people like to please or are self-motivated. Offer gift certificates for completing projects on time, or a preferred parking space for a week. Be creative. Again, this doesn’t have to cost a lot. Offer the “toys” and you will see us acting like kids…kids who are eager to please and even go above and beyond.
Praise in public, scold in private. Even though this is an age old adage, it’s surprising how little it’s done. I worked for one employer who was a master at this – he knew his sales team and knew what would motivate each member of the team to produce more. He got to know the people in depth and trained us accordingly. The managers at my last company were told specifically not to praise any employee in front of others. After all, they were hired to do that job anyway.
Praise doesn’t have to be a “shout from the rooftop” praise, the kind that promotes insecurity or jealously. Just a simple “job well done” mentioned at a company meeting or in earshot of others will do. It seems like a no-brainer but please scold in private, with a closed door. No demoralizing in public.
Maybe you interpret my suggestions as rants. You might be right. I can only say I’m a freelancer now and I’m the best boss I’ve ever had. As I said at the beginning, you may manage a sports team, a sports agency, or just ABC Widget Company but you can elevate your employee’s production level and the general morale of your organization by implementing some ideas on this checklist.