I was inspired today by a single question from someone on the Employee Engagement Network, a lively, friendly and well informed group of people brought together by Canadian David Zinger. The question was:
In today’s workplace, what are the main levers that Supervisors can use to improve morale and engagement?
Although my first book was not organized around “what to do to improve morale and engagement” (many books have done that) I did ask some questions about whether managers are born or made, and if one could make a perfect high engagement manager, what traits she (in this case) would have. As such this is not about “levers” (not sure I like that mechanistic view of things) as much as it is about how one can prepare oneself for the critical job of managing others. It is about values, beliefs and actions….which could lead a person to having high morale, engaged employees.
Here is what I said in the book:
“What if it is possible to hire a manager who leaves behind a trail of goodwill and enthusiastic employees, no matter where she goes? What traits would this person have?
- She would have left behind that part of her personal background and baggage which would have poisoned relationships with her team and her peers
- She would check her ego at the door and make sure it didn’t effect her management style:
-for example by not “stealing” credit for projects from others
-by knowing that when people in her team are successful she too is successful, not diminished
-by hiring or promoting people who might be smarter than her in the field and not being threatened by that
- She would have a view of people as essentially motivated, intelligent and creative
- She would believe that those qualities can be “invited” into the work environment with the right kind of management support and encouragement
- She would see her job mainly as a coach, not a controller
- She would have…oh please yes….a sense of humor!
- She would have a profound respect for her people and treat them that way
- She would treat people with equality and fairness, not favoring some at the expense of others based on personal relationships, or other factors not related to the job itself
- She would base all evaluation of her employees on mutually-agreed-upon, clear goals
- She would provide honest, supportive, regular and timely feedback to her people
- She would be tough enough to make difficult personnel decisions, such as helping a low performing employee to face up to that fact
- She would be a communicator of the stated values of the organization as well as living them via her own behavior
- She would not tolerate violations of those values by anyone and would protect her team from those who would violate them
If this sounds like superwoman, it is not: great managers do a lot of these things by instinct (good genes help), but some of them can be learned. Others (like the essential ability to identify and control one’s ego and other aspects of emotional intelligence) can be a long term personal growth project on which many do not wish to embark, and which is unlikely to change on a week long course in the country.”
Excerpted from Employee Morale: Driving Performance in Challenging Times by David Bowles and Cary Cooper. Copyright © 2009-14 by the authors and reprinted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
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