This is the second month where I’ll cover some leadership principles that are good to keep in mind and discuss on a regular basis. For the full context and the first post in this series click here. We discussed these points at my office and I hope you can benefit from them too!
Catch employees doing something right. This one is pretty cliche but it’s also true. It’s very easy to only step in when things went wrong and correction is needed, but it’s much harder to point out the good things people are doing on a general basis. Pointing these things out not only encourages the behavior to continue, but it also shows the employee that you’re paying attention and are appreciative of the work they are putting in. Being unnoticed and underappreciated are usually the biggest complaints of disgruntled employees, so forcing yourself to do this regularly is a great practice. It usually feels awkward, to me at least, to approach someone and interrupt their work to thank them for something, but after it’s done you’ll be glad that you did. I used to knock using gift cards for this sort of thing, but unless your team is small enough to where you can think of unique gifts for each person, I’m now convinced it’s the way to go. One other great way to show your appreciation is to write hand written notes. It usually just takes a few minutes and it’s something tangible you can gift the employee, I’ve seen some pretty dramatic reactions to hand written thank you notes over the years.
Do not sugarcoat feedback. This is an issue I’ve come across in new leaders frequently. It’s hard to sit down with someone and have uncomfortable conversations with them. I personally had a very tough time doing this in my first few years in management. Especially when the harsh feedback isn’t even necessarily coming from you but from one of your bosses. The problem with not being completely clear though, is that you’re potentially setting that person up to be fired. By neglecting to give them the direct feedback they need, you’re not giving them the opportunity to improve, which will result in stagnant performance, which will possibly result in termination. You’re not doing them any favors by not upsetting them early on when the feedback is needed. Make sure you don’t wuss out and fail them as a result.
Regularly let employees know where they stand. If you’re like me, after a couple months of not receiving feedback from your boss you’ll start getting anxious. Spare your employees the anxiety be regularly letting them know where they stand. This can be as simple as saying “You’ve been doing a great job, thanks” or “I’m very happy with your performance” every couple weeks. These sorts of lines go a long way and you might be releasing mountains of tension you had no idea existed. Of course on the flip-side you should let people know if there are issues, this goes back to not sugarcoating things. If you have concerns with an employee they should be made clear as quickly as possible.
So there you have it, the three points of the month. I know I can certainly use them. Hope these reminders will help you improve in your role!