4 Ways to Engage With Your Employees While Maintaining Your Authority

Poor relationships between managers and employees can cause dissatisfaction at work. You know that pit in your stomach you get on Sunday night? Well, you may not get it now, but I bet at some point in your life you have if you’ve been stuck in a terrible job.

Boss speaking to her head chef with authority.

A recent study shows that almost half of employees are unhappy with their direct managers. That’s a high level of workplace dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction can lead to ineffectiveness, poor morale, and low productivity. This type of work environment will lead to high turnover and flat revenue.

So, how can managers engage positively with their employees while maintaining their authoritative position? Let’s explore four ways to engage with your employees as a manager while keeping your authority.

Offer Training for Management Positions

Generally speaking, most management training doesn’t occur until that person has been in a management role for ten years. Wow! So, what happens during that first ten years? Unprepared managers could be damaging their careers, the careers of the employees who report to them, and the organization itself.

Without proper training and development, sixty percent of new managers fail or underperform in their first two years. So how can managers properly engage with employees if the managers aren’t prepared for their positions?

Managers need training and development, not just when they’re new to the position, but on an on-going basis. They need to learn how to set goals and define accountability. They must learn how to adapt their leadership style to the needs of their employees. They need to forge long-lasting relationships where their employees learn to trust them and work collaboratively with them. Finally, managers must learn when to interact with employees when things are going well and when they’re not going well. Employees need positive and critical feedback. These are learned skills.

Don’t merely stop at basic training for management. Your managers need to have on-going professional development training. The roles of managers in today’s workforce are becoming more complicated. Continue to train managers in their skill sets for their jobs but also add in professional training and development in leadership, soft skills, communication, and other training fitting your organization or industry.

Your managers are trained, not born. Make sure you invest in your managers. The benefits of doing so are wide-spread.

Manage Expectations with Employees

Managers need to set their expectations with employees. And this is a two-way street. Managers also need to understand what their employees’ expectations are from them, the job, and the organization. This understanding will set the manager and the employee up for a positive working relationship.

Managers need to understand their employees’ strengths, goals, and motivations. This way, the manager can make sure that the employee is in the right position to develop professionally, giving his or her best to the company.

Additionally, it gives the manager the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the employee—the general rules of the company found in the employee handbook. The manager has the chance to go over the expectations of the company of all employees, and the employee has the opportunity to ask questions.

Finally, by having a two-way conversation, the manager and the employee can set out some goals. Both the manager and the employee can have input and can develop some specific and measurable goals for the employee. If the employee gets a say in goal-setting, then the employee has more ownership in his or her job and performance.

Develop Communication Strategies with Employees

To be able to sit down and set goals, along with other employee activities, managers need to develop effective communication strategies with employees. Interacting and engaging with employees will set the standard of a productive manager-employee relationship.

Manager engaging her employees during a presentation.

In a recent survey, employees were asked upon which skill their manager could improve. The top answer at 30 percent was communication and diplomacy.  For millennials, this answer topped out at 36 percent.

Whether you’re new to management or you’ve been in management for some time, here are some tips to improve your communication strategies with your employees:

  • Know your employees: One form of communication doesn’t work across the board. You’re going to communicate with different employees differently. Your employees are diverse, and you’ll need to approach these employees with various forms or styles of communication.
  • Get feedback from your employees: Ask for honest feedback and listen. Let your employees know that you want to get feedback on your communication skills. Inform them that you’re trying to improve your presentation abilities, and you welcome any helpful tips.
  • Listen to your employees. Listen to your employees when they have concerns. To earn the trust of your employees, you need to be there for them. They want to know that they can come to you if they have a problem or concern. Listen actively.
  • Give it to them straight. Employees appreciate a straight talker. If there’s bad news, just tell your employees what it is. If everyone needs to work on the weekend, tell them directly. Don’t hem and ha. Don’t sugar-coat. Don’t be hesitant. You’re the manager. Straight talk is the best way to go.

Recognize Efforts of Employees

Don’t be the grumpy boss in the corner office. And don’t take all the credit for your team. Recognize your employees when they contribute to the company. A simple thank you can go a long way with employees. A handwritten note expressing gratitude is a generous gesture from a manager. Incentivizing employees for doing a job well-done will keep them engaged and committed.

Additional compensation as an incentive is always appreciated, but there are other ways to incentivize your team. Emotional, customized incentives will go a long way.

For example, learn what motivates your employees. Ask questions. Distribute a survey. Is it an afternoon off? Contributing to a favorite charity? Adding a professional development course? Helping with career advancement? Having flex-time?

Incentivize your employees with what motivates them. Tie the incentive to their job. Tie it to the overarching goals of the organization. Communicate with your employees. Personalize their rewards.

Being in management is not an easy job. You’re pulled in a hundred directions. But, to be a productive manager, you must focus on your employees. Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization. Your relationship with your employees is a litmus test for the ultimate productivity of the company. With training and development, some communication skills, and proper recognition, you’ll be on your way to becoming a stellar manager.

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