Taking care of your people is one of the traits of a good manager. Good managers have the loyalty and support of their people and their employees work hard to take care of them. To take care of your people means more than just good compensation and benefits, although that is certainly a part of it. It also means providing them with the tools they need, recognizing them for good work, and managing the “right” way. This article provides some guidelines and suggestions for how to take care of your people.
There is one of those old sayings “What goes around comes around.” It wasn’t coined about management, but it fits when considering both the good and the bad side of management. Good managers have the loyalty and support of their people. Their employees work hard to take care of them. Bad managers rarely have that support. They are lucky if they can keep their people.
CEOs shape the culture of their organizations. They choose the managers and set the goals. They have control over compensation and benefits. They also set the tone of the management style for their managers. CEOs can use some of what is in this article to help guide their managers in the right direction.
Taking care of your people is one of the traits of a good manager. It means recognizing them when they do something good and correcting them when they do something bad. It also means rewarding them in some way when they go “above and beyond.” It means putting people in for awards or recommending them for promotions or new jobs that will help them and the organization. It can be as little as a word of encouragement or a “good job” on a paper. If they know that you care and do these things, they will work hard for you. And when your people look good, whether it is to outsiders or others within the organization, you, as the manager, look good, too.
Marriott Hotels have the right idea. In the words of Bill Marriott Sr. and what has become the mantra of the hotel chain executives: “Take great care of your people, they’ll take great care of your customers, and your customers will come back and back and back.” For Marriott, that means good pay and benefits. In a Boston Globe article by Dale Dauten, he reported that for employees’ compensation, when one of their hotels gets wage data for a given market, they don’t aim for their wages to be in the middle, but rather, they aim for the middle of the upper half. Their goal is to be the “preferred employer,” not just with pay, but also with benefits. He quoted one of their executives as saying: “When employees go home to their working-class neighborhoods, they compare jobs. One of our employees might say, ‘I get a free, hot meal every day,’ and his neighbor says, ‘Really? I have to brown-bag it.”‘ That is what I think of as WOMP — word-of-mouth potential — and it works as well in hiring as it does in marketing.
He goes on to quote the same executive “We want to hire people who are natural leaders, who are motivated by one another, self-sufficient self-starters, the ones who want to be with those who need to be told less. These are the employees who don’t need supervising, who manage themselves and who hate to be stuck waiting around on anyone who does. The meeting IQ is not the average; you move at the speed of the dullest person in the meeting.” To do that, they take care of their people – good wages and benefits are the first step.
The goal of Marriott Hotels is not just “employee satisfaction” but “employee engagement,” where the employees believe themselves to be part of something special. The result is that Marriott needs fewer employees than comparable hotels, and has, as Jannini puts it, “30 percent turnover in a 100-percent industry.” Less training, less management, better quality people.
Marriott is just one example. There are many more. The culture in these firms includes a penchant for doing the right things when it comes to taking care of their people. One of the goals of those companies is to have good managers. A number of studies have shown that employees rarely leave a company; they leave a boss, usually because that manager is a bad boss.
BIG BOSS, GOOD BOSS
Most people want to be a good manager, but either don’t know how or the stress of the job causes them to go astray. You may not have full control over your employee’s compensation and benefits, but you can take care of your people in other ways, with the first step being the treatment of your people. So what can you do? First, you want to avoid the things “bad” bosses do, like these:
- Yelling, screaming or shouting at employees
- Berating an employee in public
- Bullying or making employees afraid
- Taking credit for something an employee does
- Giving no praise or rewards for a job well done
- Not listening
- Lying to workers (or about them)
- Demanding that employees lie, cover up, or cheat in some way
- Demanding perfection and allowing no excuses for errors
- Expecting employees to do a task without giving guidance or direction
- Belittling or humiliating an employee for no reason
- Not communicating
- Shifting his own work to employees
- Showing bias or prejudice
- Playing favorites
- Making the work environment difficult for someone who has displeased him
- Constantly checking and rechecking everyone’s work (some checking has to be done, so don’t be too quick on this one)
- Refusing to let employees make decisions
- Expecting employees to do what is asked, without question, comment, or reason
- Asking them to do personal favors
- Not taking responsibility
- Treating your employees worse than your customers
- Not providing clear expectations
- Not celebrating your employees’ successes
- Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths
And you want to do all of the things that good bosses do. Here are some ideas on how good bosses act. Good bosses:
- Treat everyone equally
- Respect their people and treat them with dignity
- Use good manners and don’t degrade their folks in any way
- Don’t yell or scream
- Correct or counsel people in private
- Are loyal to their people
- Support their employees, protecting and defending them from outsiders
- Are the voice of the work group and shoulder the responsibility if things go wrong
- Have empathy for their people
- Are accessible and listen
- Don’t make promises that they can’t keep
- Empower his people
- Share authority by delegating
- Give employees the resources needed to do the job
- Listens to suggestions and ideas
- Cooperates with employees rather than compete with them
- Have patience
- Acts as coach and mentor
- Are willing to pitch in and help, when necessary
- Have self-discipline and provide guidance, structure and discipline
- Don’t have favorites
- Communicate with employees, letting them know what is happening and why
- Are honest and demand honesty from employees
- Have a sense of humor (hopefully)
- Prove clear expectations
· Recognize people when they do well
SOME PRACTICAL IDEAS
Start off with a “climate” survey, where employees can respond anonymously about working in your organization. This is usually a corporate-wide exercise, but can be done at a lower level. Use this survey to learn what is important to your people and what they feel is right or wrong with the organization. If they point out problems, real or perceived, try to fix them. Be sure to respond to their legitimate concerns. Asking for feedback and ignoring it is far worse than not asking at all. If a climate survey is impractical, at least talk to your people to try to get their feelings and ideas on your department, office or area.
Provide them with the resources that they need to do their jobs. If they don’t have the tools to do the work efficiently, it affects their attitude, productivity, and morale. They feel that you aren’t taking care of them, so why should they take care of you.
Give them the chance for, and encourage them, to apply for better jobs within the company, promotions, or training. Submit them for awards and recognition. Encourage them to expand their talents and skills, and to take on new responsibilities. Try to build on your individual employee’s strengths. Don’t ignore their weakness, but focus on their strengths.
Listen to your people when they have problems, even personal problems. You may not be able to help, but sometimes having someone to vent to is all that it takes. If it is a personal problem, keep the information to yourself. An exception might be if you can share the information with someone who might help. But that someone shouldn’t be a fellow employee; it might be HR or a health worker (if you have them in your company).
Be a coach or a mentor. Helping your people develop is a great way to take care of them. Adopting coaching as a part of your duties allows you to help other people unlock their potential and enhance their performance. You get to help people learn instead of telling them the answers. Your mindset should be to create an environment that fosters learning, independent thinking, increased skills and becoming a better asset to the organization. Your responsibility should be seen as being a facilitator, paving the way for your people to achieve greater results.
Make your people feel that you and the organization value them. They should feel that you consider them an asset, and a critical asset at that. Here are a few ways that you might try to make employees feel valued. Use these to come up with your own ideas based on your unique situation. Some will be impossible for certain types of companies and others are for specific situations, but they are presented here to stir your imagination:
- Review the benefits package that the organization offers. Compare it to your competitors. Update it to keep it at least comparable and preferably better.
- Purchase and hand out gift cards, tickets to sporting events, or other small rewards to deserving employees who go above and beyond.
- As a reward, let high-performing individuals or teams leave early to miss rush hour traffic. You have to communicate why you are doing this to others, though, or it can create jealousy.
- Give an afternoon off to employees who have exceeded expectations for a particular customer or on a particular task.
- Sponsor a free lunch or breakfast for your people on an occasional basis. Let them know that you appreciate their hard work. A pizza lunch is a nice, reasonably inexpensive way to say thank you, and it can build camaraderie among the team.
- Subsidize the price of food in vending machines. A little thing, but it helps.
- Creating an events committee to plan fun outings, such as trips to a sporting event, a picnic, or a holiday party.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Wayne Turk is an independent management and project management consultant with Suss Consulting. He is a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel and defense contractor. He has supported information technology projects, policy development and strategic planning projects for the US Government, Swedish Air Force, companies, and non-profit organizations. He is the author of Common Sense Project Management (ASQ Press) and numerous published and online articles. ....
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