5 Things managers should do to empower employees

Artikel van Caitlin Hendee in Denver Business Journal, juni 2016

5 things managers should do to empower employees

Millennials now make up the majority of Colorado’s population, and their approach as an employee is different than generations before.The idea of sitting in a cubicle from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. just doesn’t cut it for most millennials. Neither does the idea of working just to get a paycheck or climbing the corporate ladder.

“They want to see and feel a purpose in their work rather than only coming to their jobs for a paycheck,” said Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace and wellbeing at Gallup, the Washington, D.C.-based global research and consulting firm. “They want to develop and envision their future rather than simply remaining satisfied at their jobs thanks to ‘perks.’ For many, their work is blended into their lives and is more than just a job.”

And catering to those desires has been the talk of management and upper-level executive circles for quite some time. But while certain processes, such as doing away with the annual performance review and replacing it with new systems, should be done away with, Harter said the core values and traits of effective managers remain timeless. Empowering employees, and subsequently the company, to succeed is something savvy manager can do by going back to the basics.

“It is interesting that many of the core requirements for great managing are unchanged from five years ago — defining clear and organizationally aligned outcomes, individualized strengths-based development, accountability, career growth opportunities, for example,” Harter said. A good manager acts as a “coach” rather than a “boss,” and selects people for roles they have the natural capacity to excel at.

“In setting expectations, they define the right outcomes first, and don’t expect everyone to reach the same outcomes in the same way,” he added. “In motivating, they focus on individual strengths and manage around the weaknesses.”

Managers account for about 70 percent of team engagement, and highly engaged teams have 21 percent higher profits compared to those without engaged teams, according to research conducted by Gallup.Engaged employees are also healthier and have better overall quality of life. Great managers improve lives while they improve performance,” Harter said. Harter, who contributed to Gallup’s new book ” First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,” offers 5 ways managers can keep employees engaged and move the company to success:

1) Select for talent.

Find people who are wired to fit the work you are asking for.

2) Define the right outcomes — those that align with organizational objectives and are achievable.

The path of least resistance is to honor that each person can meet the same outcomes in somewhat different ways.

3) Focus on strengths.

This does not require an ignorance of weaknesses, but is a change in focus from the average manager’s approach. Your team of people, regardless of how rigorous your selection process is, has within it different capacities for excellence. Learn about their strengths and leverage them while providing the right experiences to turn their natural capacity for excellence into strengths.

4) Find the right fit.

No one is equipped to do everything. The continuous process of a great manager is to fine-tune the job to fit the person. This means that not every person is fit to be a manager of others, just like not every person is fit to be a top salesperson, accountant, engineer or teacher. Even for those currently in the right job, there are tasks that are not easy or exciting. Continually maximize what each person does best and focus development and growth in areas of natural capacity.

5) Coach rather than boss.

The future of managing is coaching. Doing it right is the art of performance. Developing routines that make feedback simple and relevant to your organization and roles is key. This comes in the form of goal setting, ongoing feedback, progress and career development discussions. Each manager’s routine can be different, reflecting your personal style or the uniqueness of those you manage. But be sure that it is simple, creates frequent interaction, is future-focused and requires high involvement and ownership from the people you manage.

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