No one begins a job in management and says to themselves, “I really want to be a bad boss, so that employees end up resigning and leaving the company.” Yet, study after study shows that people end up quitting their jobs not because of money, benefits, or the size of their offices; instead, research indicates that the primary reason is due to their direct supervisor.
So, what qualities make you a “good” manager and what can you do to create or foster a culture where people aren’t putting in their two-week notices on a regular basis? Here are some steps to follow to ensure you and your staff are successful, engaged and happy.
- Value/respect – You don’t need to necessarily like all of your employees, but you do need to value and respect all of them. Show them this by listening to their questions/concerns, establishing good eye contact and body posture, and not being rude or unnecessarily short with them. Respect becomes trust and trust becomes loyalty. Show your employees that they are important to the team and to the organization.
- Lead/engage – It’s critical that you lead by example and engage your staff whenever possible. Help reduce burnout by keeping the job from becoming monotonous. Quite simply, be a leader. You’re the one they look to for guidance and you’re the one that sets the tone for your department/team, so take that seriously. If there is a conflict that needs to be dealt with, be assertive and resolve any internal concerns.
- Communicate/regularly meet – Make sure to regularly communicate with your team. This includes “managing by mingling”, scheduling individual meetings where employees have dedicated time to review what’s going well, what needs improvement, and upcoming goals, as well as scheduling team meetings to discuss important topics as a group. Whenever possible, pass information on to your employees about company policies, updates and news.
- Be fair/consistent – Nothing can disrupt your team more than employees’ perceptions that you’re showing preferential treatment over other employees, whether accurate or not. Be careful not to let your personal feelings about people affect your professional decisions. Be fair and consistent with your interactions. It’s also a good practice to update your team en masse via e-mail, so that everyone receives the same message at the same time.
- Ask for feedback/suggestions – Since your employees are the ones that know their jobs the best, ask them for suggestions regarding how processes can be changed or improved. This holds true for overall departmental and company concerns, as well. Even if you are unable to implement their suggestions, they will be grateful that you asked for their feedback. This shows that you truly care about their opinion. Whenever possible, implement suggestions that make sense for your team and give credit to those involved.
- Enable work-life balance – As long as your team members don’t abuse it, be flexible with their personal requests whenever possible. In their eyes, their pottery class or daughter’s soccer game is important. As long as it doesn’t negatively affect their workload, duties or other employees, consider approving a request to leave 15 minutes early or come in a little late. Work-life balance is critical to effective management and if the time can be made up during the pay period, it may be okay to allow occasional exceptions.
- Stick up for your employees – Your staff needs to know that you’re looking out for them and that you have their best interests in mind. Even if you suspect that a proposal is going to be overruled by your boss, still make your pitch and see what happens. Even if it is denied, it will go a long way with your team and increase their trust that you have their back.
- Be positive/have fun – While work shouldn’t be a non-stop party, it also shouldn’t be a funeral. Keep a positive attitude and add some fun activities to the daily grind. This helps to humanize you. It can also make employees work harder and more productively. Ultimately, people want to feel good about coming into work and this in turn improves their loyalty tremendously.
Does following these steps take time away from your schedule and other projects/responsibilities? Definitely! However, it is critical to remember that these steps should be part of your daily responsibilities, not something that you only do when you have time. Approximately 95% of employee turnover is voluntary, but most of what increases engagement lies within the power of direct managers to control. Remember, their success is also your success!
What are your thoughts? Do you have other items to add? Please feel free to ask questions or share your experiences below.
Jeremy joined Empathia (then NEAS) in 2007 as Manager, Client Care Services, then became an Account Manager/Sales Consultant in 2012. He is also a certified wellness and tobacco cessation coach. Jeremy has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Organizational Management. Prior to joining Empathia, he spent 14 years in the EAP industry in a variety of roles with another behavioral healthcare organization. Jeremy enjoys reading, photography, music, and spending time with his wife and daughters.