When people think about becoming a manager, they may have unrealistic expectations about how they can get results from the employees they will manage. Sometimes people who haven't ever been managers imagine that being a manager is somewhat like sitting in a big leather chair and issuing proclamations.
The modern-day equivalent of being a king. The reality is there might be a leather chair involved, but proclamations are few and far between. Managers need to learn quickly how to get results from their employees—proclamations won't cut it.
The responsibilities are serious and heavy. Even if you're the CEO, there's someone you're reporting to in—the CEO's case the stockholders or the board of directors or just your own bank account—and all other managers have managers above them as well.
If you're a manager, you need to get good results from your employees or you'll find yourself out on your ear. How can you do that? Well, it's a lot of hard work, but doable. Here are eight tips for getting the best work and results from your employees.
Hire People Who Are Better Than You Are
You need to hire the best people you can find. Not that you must hire perfection—perfection doesn't exist. You need to look for great people who will ask you questions, who will point out errors and who will work without you hovering over them. If you pay well, you'll find it easier to recruit high-quality people.
When you're interviewing candidates, be painfully honest about the problems and the benefits of the job. Don't say that everything is peaches and cream when, in reality, you have demanding clients, unpredictable schedules, and everyone has to take a turn cleaning the bathrooms. You want someone who understands what they are getting into when they take the job. You'll get better fits if you're honest about the positives and negatives of the job.
Give Great Training
Lots of managers are super busy and often new hire training gets a back seat. Sure, someone sits down with a new employee and shows the employee how to log on to the system and such, but make sure you have a dedicated trainer that the new employee can question whenever needed.
Train about company culture as well as how to operate systems. If necessary, send the new employee to a training course to learn your systems. It's worth the time and effort to get the new person up to speed as fast as possible.
Set Clear Goals
How can you expect your employees to be truly productive and effective if you never explain exactly what they are supposed to accomplish? So many managers let employees flounder and then discipline when the employee doesn't live up to expectations that they never knew existed.
For instance, if you expect your employees to respond to all emails within an hour, say that explicitly. Don't say, “Hey, we believe in a prompt response to our clients.” That can mean anything. If you're going to hold an employee accountable, you need to let them know what you're judging them on.
Additionally, if you have financial targets, productivity targets, or anything else that you're required to do, let your employees know. Every year when you do your performance reviews and goal setting make goals that are measurable and applicable.
Follow up in your regular one-on-one meetings (you do need those), and you'll see results clearly. You'll also see if someone is struggling and you can either fix it or terminate the employee promptly. Either way, you'll get great performance.
Do you want employees that give you great results? Don't think about playing favorites. Judge new and seasoned employees based on their work. Give fair schedules. Reward results. If an employee reaches her goals don't pull back a promised bonus. If an employee exceeds her goals, don't respond by increasing the goals for next year without a corresponding rise in salary and/or bonus.
Did your employee resolve a complex client complaint satisfactorily? Let her know you're grateful. Did she screw up? Let her know the same day (and privately) so that she doesn't make the same mistake again. Give your employees feedback and they'll know how to improve and what works best.
Give Employees Leeway to Do Their Jobs
When you micromanage, you may get exact results, but you won't get great performances. If your reporting employee says that she needs X training in order to solve a certain set of problems, arrange for that training. If another employee says that she wants to revamp the monthly reports to make them consistent across the organization, don't say, “But we've always done it this way!”
If you think it's a bad idea, ask her to explain her reasons and then listen to her. Chances are she knows her job better than you know her job. Unless you have extremely strong reasons (like changing the reports would involve implementing a new $25,000 system), let her do what she does best—her job.
For the love of Pete, please listen to your employees. Listen to their ideas. Remember that you worked hard to hire the best people you could hire. There's no point in hiring good people if you are going to treat them like robots. They aren't robots. Listen to their ideas. Talk to them. Get their feedback.
When your boss praises your department for something, say, “Thanks so much. Jane, John, and Horace did an amazing job. I'm super happy to have them on staff.” That can inspire your employees more than a bonus can. (Although you should give bonuses as well.) Don't take credit yourself. Your boss will know it's your leadership that helped Jane, John, and Horace do a great job. You don't need to pat yourself on the back.
Likewise, when there's an error, take responsibility. Yes, you have to take responsibility for the bad and give credit for the good. Your employees will know that you have their back, and they'll work hard to keep the trust you've given them. It's the best way to go about it.
Suzanne Lucas is a freelance journalist specializing in Human Resources. Suzanne's work has been featured on notes publications including Forbes, CBS, Business Insider and Yahoo.