Things don’t change in the workplace. We give things different names, but they don’t change.
“Employees” have become “people”, “staff”, and “talent”.
“Personnel” became “Human Resources”, “Organizational Development”, and “Employee Relations”.
“Employee Morale” became “engagement” and “happiness”.
The “hiring and orientation” process became “onboarding”.
Things don’t change. We give them different or fancy names to appear relevant or to validate the salary levels of executives, but things don’t change. We can change the names all we want, but the same issues, successes, and challenges exist today as have existed since the first “lady in personnel” was hired.
But if Personnel or Human Resources truly wants to develop a thriving organization with great employee relations in the hopes of keeping people, or staff, or talent happy and engaged after the onboarding process, here are five things of which they need to remind managers:
1. Invest in Their Skills, Baby
(Formerly Known as Training and Development)
Great managers recognize the importance of providing opportunities to learn in order to make people better. Whether you bring in an outside trainer, send people to a free public seminar, utilize your in-house resources, or dedicate some time each week to teach one another how to better utilize a tools at work, training and education is critical — and it shows employees you’re invested in their development. Employees love a manager committed to growth, development, and advancement.
2. Be a Potential Pusher!
(Formerly Known as a Mentor)
Great managers need to embrace the idea that all staff want to be successful, and then mentor them to that success. You can be trusted with private conversations. You are approachable, and you share employees’ visions. Your success is an inspiration to your mentees. You are objective and willing to advocate. You listen to employees’ ideas to solve daily challenges and guide them to the best outcomes. You critique where appropriate and use criticism as a learning opportunity, rather than a form of discipline. And, of course, you set aside time on a regular basis to do all of this.
Is this you? Be truthful.
3. Grow a Pair — Or Two!
( … of Big Ears and Good Eyes)
The great manager knows how to listen and look.
They can drop their preconceived ideas and thoughts and really hear the new ones presented by subordinates. Listening involves processing all sides of a discussion before making “a” decision – rather than just making “your” decision. Listening involves the whole conversation, not just the last few words. How great really are your listening skills? Or are you already processing your thoughts and answers while an employee talks?
The great manager also sees what’s going on. Are people stressed? Unhappy? Frustrated? It’s time to stop ignoring it. You know what they’re thinking and experiencing. Even if you can’t change it, you can and should acknowledge it. Open your eyes and see what’s going on in the halls, cubicles, and offices.
4. Join the Sharing Movement!
Information is knowledge — not power. We live in a sharing economy now. A great manager is willing to share information — sometimes even sensitive information — in order to gain trust, respect, and build a better team. Sharing information moves organizations forward.
What information are you holding back right now? Could it be shared? Go do it and watch the reaction. And if the information is soooooooo sensitive — well, try this: “Hey Josh, some changes are coming that I really can’t talk about but that is the reason why we need to do X right now.” At least Josh is not sitting there thinking you’re a clueless bonehead or capital-B, uh W, Witch.
5. You’re Not That Awesome
You haven’t brokered world peace yet, have you? Have you singlehandedly generated all company revenue? Probably not.
Oh, and by the way, when you were a staff person — you hated exactly the kind of person you’ve become. Great managers don’t need to remind staff they are the boss — they need to remind staff what a great job the team is doing. It’s about the team’s and organization’s goals, not your title, your travel schedule, how many meetings you attended today, or how many times you can stroke yourself.
Create an Ego-Free Zone. Start by leaving yours at home. What, you don’t have an ego? Well then: do you have the courage to ask people for input, listen, process, and respond without retaliation?
That’s it. It’s not that hard, although you would shake your head a lot if, like me, you got to look at it from the outside on a regular basis.
So here’s my challenge to you, the manager: pick one of the above and work on it this week. Next week you can pick another. And so on.