Leading people has nothing to do with managing them. Too many managers are trying to micro-manage their staff, while forgetting to lead them effectively.
If you want to become a strong leader you need to lead by example. This means you have to show your team that you are perfectly capable to set examples. By doing so you will earn their respect and create lifelong devotees who would move mountains for you.
A manager who hides behind his office door while commanding staff isn't going to gain much respect in the work place. If your staff are unhappy it will soon show in their lack of productivity. This will influence your bottom line. Customer complaints will start to amass and office gossip will run hot. This is counterproductive to running a well oiled machine – your business.
It’s All About Relationships
No organization can function for very long without the co-operation of its employees.
Various thoughts, ideas, even the different levels of employees can lead to conflicts if not managed properly. Effective leaders must realize and understand the employees that are under them. For this reason, there must be an effort to build healthy relationships, or life in the workplace can become painful for everyone, and productivity will decline.
Leaders need to make their workplace society function positively, with co-operation and respect. This way everyone is working for the common good and towards a common purpose. This demands that effective relationships are built upon an understanding of each other’s needs. It is no different to how things should be in the home; no personal relationship will last very long if there is a sense that one or both parties are being selfish.
The most effective way to understand how other people are feeling is to listen to what they have to say. This must be done without judging, and not as though you are being forced to do so by some higher authority. Very often, teams will have the same goals as their leaders, but may just want to know that they are not seen as robots that have no creative input.
Quality workplace relationships make people feel happy. One of the major reasons why employees move on from a company is because of relationship clashes with leaders or other colleagues.
Leaders should also make sure that they create the circumstances for understanding within their team, and this means asking questions. Assuming that your team will simply pipe up and express their feelings is not enough; many people will not feel it is their place to speak up unless they are specifically asked to do so.
Listening should be done attentively, not glancing at your watch every couple of minutes or trying not to look bored. This means you listen without interrupting or fidgeting, and with the correct expression. Your expression, by the way, should be genuine or you will be found out very quickly and the situation will become worse than had you not asked in the first place.
A great way to foster healthy relationships with your team is by meeting them in a more social environment on regular occasions. Some companies choose to send their staff to regular golfing outings while others prefer to host a monthly BBQ or weekend trips. Regardless what you end up choosing, the key lies in giving your team a chance to connect away from the daily grind.
Building effective relationships means that neither party must make any assumptions. As a leader, you cannot expect people to understand exactly what you want and why you want it. Sometimes it is this lack of comprehension that causes problems. As much as you must trust your team members to have intelligence, if they are not party to the goals you are working towards they can become resistant. Your team should be knowledgeable of the goals and understand how their actions are contributing to their successful outcome. People are inquisitive and function better when not kept in the dark.
Respect is the key ingredient of any good relationship, and this means respect for yourself as well as others. Genuinely listening and understanding are the ways in which you show that you respect the person you are talking to. Quickly judging based on preconceived ideas or prejudice is the opposite of having respect. Keep in mind that not everyone will respond in 100% perfect fashion to all that occurs in the workplace. Although it is not the leader’s job to be a permanent shoulder to cry on, it is important to accept that your team is made up of individuals whose lives may not be as perfect as their coffee-break banter might lead you to believe.
While creating a healthy working relationship is a crucial goal, the smart leader will always understand that conflict is inevitable and must be managed, rather than ignored for the sake of apparent peace.
Relationships can never improve unless problems are identified and confronted. Differences between people are inevitable, and hearing them aired can lead to some very useful resolutions that produce ideas beyond the expected. The alternative is highly detrimental: to let problems fester and build, and ruin the atmosphere in a workplace, affecting productivity levels.
Keys for success in working relationships:
At least one person should value the relationship – This may start off as a one-way street, but this can lead to a meeting of minds later on.
Listen effectively, without judging – Listening in this way will promote mutual understanding and mutual respect.
Have informal chats – Chatting over a coffee can encourage a more frank exchange of views than meeting officially with a desk between you.
Create an open culture – Your team should know they can speak freely, no matter if that is to express happiness, joy, contentment, anger, irritation, sadness or fear. Negative feelings that are hoarded cause significant problems.