Gone are the days when a company could simply have one or two staff events a year for employees at every level to mingle. Instead, for businesses to benefit from effective leadership, they need to work towards a more inclusive approach, valuing all levels of contributions from staff members, irrespective of their role in the company.
Ultimately, ensuring the divide is being lessened comes down to the manager and how they work with their team to engage them in business strategies that affect customers and client interaction. The majority of manager training focuses on compliance and safety, as well as HR policies and procedures, however it is important for companies to ensure managers have training in leadership skills to ensure all teams are managed correctly.
No matter which industry one is in, a concept known as the “Service-Profit Chain” proves that managers who drive employee engagement make a positive impact on company growth and profitability.
So how does a manager break down the “them and us” attitude?
There are a number of factors involved in narrowing the gap; however managers need to understand the following three things before approaching the other factors:
- Managers have to understand their role in the company, which more often than not is about ensuring their team meet their targets and deliver results.
- Managers must inspire their team to work to their full potential whilst ensuring the employees understand the corporate vision and their role in the company.
- Managers have to communicate with their team members, ensuring that team spirit and joint accountability is at the forefront of any task presented to them.
Communication is Key
There are two types of leadership when addressing communication: visible and communicative.
Visible leadership occurs when employees have the opportunity to speak to managers face to face, allowing both parties to form an attachment whilst reassuring team members that senior management are interested in their opinions.
Communicative leadership allows for employees to be a part of company strategies and be aware of high level decisions that may affect them in their job. Two way communication can be achieved through one to one meetings, team meetings, focus groups and employee forums where staff members can engage with each other, as well as senior management on innovative ideas, thoughts and concerns they may have.
Managers should attempt to spend time in different parts of the business throughout the year to gain an understanding of potential business issues from the perspective of their team. Employees are much more willing to work harder if management get involved in completing projects or hitting targets for the good of the team. Leading by example ensures that employees know the manager isn’t asking them to do something they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.
Reward and Recognise Success
A lot of research has been done into positive reinforcement and the benefit it has for motivating and improving skills. Managers need to be aware of recognising and acknowledging individual team members success when it is deserved and offering constructive criticism instead of negative reinforcement which could lead to resentment.
Do Not Micromanage
Putting team members in a position where they have to make their own decisions and deal with the consequences leads to a stronger and more versatile work environment. Through management allowing their team to solve problems, staff members will gain confidence and be more likely to work independently in future tasks. If management don’t allow this to happen and constantly micromanage, employees will feel they are unable to do the job thy have been hired for and will constantly seek reassurance.
Encourage Offsite Activities
There are numerous team building days across Ireland that specialise in allowing all employees at every level in the company to share one space without potentially feeling intimidated by someone’s job title. Managers should engage in such activities once or twice a year to ensure all employees realise that the company has their best interests at heart whilst motivating and inspiring them outside the work place.
Be on First Name Terms
This may seem either obvious or rather old fashioned but there are still some companies who insist upper management are addressed by their surname. Unfortunately this leads to a level of intimidation from junior staff members. Addressing everyone by their first name removes any sense of hierarchy and brings openness and approachability between every employee in the company.
Trust is a Two Way Street
Last but definitely not least, trust and respect is the foundation of building a successful employee-manager relationship. Whilst managers find it important to trust their team members to do their job, employees also have to trust that their manager has their best interests at heart. Trust can come in the form of managers being open and honest about future plans or concerns, representing their team to employees high up the chain as well as protecting them from potential negative influences.
Managers hold the key to unlocking employee talent, keeping clients happy and ultimately driving growth within the company. Therefore it’s of utmost importance that companies give managers the tools and vision to help their teams succeed!
The contents of this article are necessarily expressed in broad terms and limited to general information rather than detailed analyses or legal advice. Specialist professional advice should always be obtained to address legal and other issues arising in specific contexts.