Managing Employees More Effectively

Managing employees is never an easy task and that is why you get paid the BIG bucks right? Well, in any case I am going to give you some tips on ways to simplify your role as a manager.

First we need to define manager. About.com defines Manager as follows;

Definition: A Manager is the person responsible for planning and directing the work of a group of individuals, monitoring their work, and taking corrective action when necessary. For many people, this is their first step into a management career.

Yes, I know, I wish it was that simple and that was all there was to being a manager but alas, it is not. So we will have to break down each part by looking at the key words, define what each means and then look at ways of simplifying the process of managing each apart.

Part 1 – responsible for planning and directing the work of a group of individuals

Planning and directing are probably the most time consuming tasks of a manager’s job. As a manager I spent about 50% of all my time either planning or directing what employees were doing on a daily and weekly basis. This is the ‘what’ and ‘why’ for the reason most managers are hired and all of what comes below is considered incidental (read: just happens and is expected) by upper management.

When it comes to planning and directing your employees you should not have to plan out their days for them or tell them what to do constantly. I would hope you hired self directed employees that have good time management skills. However, you will need to give them direction on what tasks have priority to generate more revenue, lower costs and increase customer satisfaction as it pertains to your business. The planning comes in for when there are new projects, changes or challenges for your team and below are some tips to help you plan and direct more efficiently.

  • involve employees in planning sessions – this lets employees know that they are part of a bigger team and that they are trusted to help grow and improve the business
  • explain desired outcome and goals – sets the expectations of what the team is trying to achieve
  • listen to other’s ideas – builds trust in that you will listen and value other team member’s ideas
  • properly assign tasks – not only assign the tasks but ensure employees understand the task and the deliverables

NOTE: When assigning tasks be sure to ask the assignee ‘what if anything would prevent them from completing the assigned task on time’. This will give you insight to other items or deliverable that they may be working on that you are unaware of and their ability to prioritize.

Part 2monitoring their work

Monitoring employees work does not mean standing over their shoulder watching every move they make. It means having them check in with you at scheduled times to provide updates on their progress and any obstacles they may be running into that you may be able to help with or alleviate. Here are some ways to help you monitor employees’ progress;

  • ensure employee’s understanding of objectives – If an employee does not understand their objectives they may work towards a goal that is not in alignment with what you expected
  • schedule follow-up timelines – setting scheduled times for follow-up will put the employee in the habit of consistently giving you feedback on their progress and this will become second nature to them
  • document progress – having goals, objectives and timelines in writing will help you both keep track of expectations that have been firmly set and ensures no ambiguity
  • review completed project – once a project as been completed review it with the employee so as to give them open and honest feedback as to what you felt the outcome was compared to what they thought

Part 3 – taking corrective action when necessary

OK, now the part that most managers that I have met dread the most; corrective action. If you think of corrective action as a bad thing, then human nature will not allow you to approach this task in a positive manner without a lot of training and practice. So the best way to look at corrective action is to see it as a growth and development tool. More often than not managers tend to give so much feedback only when things go wrong it gets hard to remember the last time an employee did something good. So change your thinking by replacing corrective action with employee feedback by using the following tips;

  • give feedback consistently – employees want to know how they are doing so schedule weekly sessions to provide feedback, both positive and negative
  • address issues immediately – when you see something; good or bad, address it in that moment, don’t wait until later. letting bad things go on only makes them worse and good things? well, who doesn’t like a pat on the back every now and then (read: often)
  • document everything – keeping track of accomplishments and failures by documenting them allows you to look back at any time and see the progress or lack thereof. have you ever tried to remember exactly what you did three months ago? now apply that to an annual evaluation. you will remember more bad than good, I promise, and that is not fair to you or the employee
  • positive approach – no matter what the situation, always approach it in a positive manner. even if it is a negative situation approach it positively using it as a learning experience for the employee. don’t just sit and lecture but coach and teach, after all that is part of your responsibility to your employees

These are just a few tips to help you manage more effectively but even just trying one or two out of each part will net you changes in your employees’ performance that could just astonish you. Remember, they are human too and for the most part, people want to do a good job and do not fail on purpose, and if they fail, you fail.

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