The other day I re-shared a post on Facebook I wrote about supporting small business and how awesome the service is at establishments where the employees are vested in what they’re doing.
And I truly do believe that. But whether you work at the biggest international company or the smallest corner shop the same thing is true: Your employees will value their job if they feel valued you by you. It really has to be a two way street.
Why? Because at the heart of us, we are still human beings who need reassurance, encouragement, recognition and inspiration. Those are the things that drive us more than money and power.
I can tell you that the best job I ever had paid me not even enough money to really live on. And the things that made it so great were obviously not the long drive or non-existent benefits or the salary that was at the mercy of government grants. The things that made it great were the environment.
I had the opportunity to learn something new everyday while becoming an expert at the things that I was particularly interested in. The people who worked there took care of each other and truly worked as teammates. There were clear expectations that were consistent and fair, and senior staff were always available to answer questions and deal with situations that were beyond my own capabilities or knowledge.
I haven’t worked there for a long time, but I’ve always sworn that if I ever won the lottery, I would happily go back. It was that good.
And since that perfect job, I have done quite a few things in a quite a few distinct areas. From retail to biotech and back to the service industry and now self employment. And in the end, no matter what the work was, the same rule applies: If you treat your employees with respect and consistency and proper training, they will not only return the favour, but they will excel at whatever tasks you assign them.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of lazy assholes out there who fucking ruin it for the rest of us. And that is something every good manager needs to address without punishing the masses.
The more I look at it, the more I compare managing my students and my own kids to managing the staff in the workplace. It’s ok to have high expectations, but ruling through threats and intimidation only goes so far. It may work initially, but being a tyrannical asshole only works for so long before it loses all effectiveness. Because after some time of dealing with someone who is in charge of you and also a real prick, mutiny will occur.
It’s almost like my kids figure that I’m going to give them shit all day anyway, so they might as well go ahead and do all the things I’m waiting on. But when I remember to guide them with firm love and clear rules and rewards, and save the yelling for extreme backup, then it becomes much more effective.
So all the advice I can give to any manager is to pretend like you are dealing with a crowd of small children. They get upset often, they are moody and difficult to please. They are terrified that someone else is getting treated better than them and obsessed with fairness.And the only way to manage that (besides drinking heavily once the doors are closed…also a valid choice) is with extreme patience and consistency and just as much recognition of a job well done as there is negative reaction to things not done right. Don’t change the rules every week. Say thank you when someone does more than is expected of them. Laugh a lot. Remember that employees will leave a job they love if there is a manager they hate. Because the relationships we form are really the single most important factor in employee retention in my experience. And you should WANT to retain good people. Who the fuck wants to spend a billion dollars training new people all the time? It costs a shit ton of money and burns out your best staff.
When you make people believe that they are awesome, they can achieve great things. It’s called inspiration. It works a lot better than intimidation.
So. Mangers of people and parents of tiny humans, what’s the take home message today?
Same as every other day. Don’t be an asshole. It gets you better results every.single.time.