Just saying it elicits dozens of idealized perks both employees and employers dream of.
Yet, it comes with challenges and shadows that threaten vital human connection that most managers are unprepared to face.
It was my first job out of graduate school and I was working for a well-known company that allowed my mother to boast of her successful daughter. Meanwhile, I was working 60-80 hour weeks fielding the requests of four different managers and product areas, and giving it my all with very little feedback one way or the other. My days were spent in quiet companionship with dual computer screens and employee databases in a tireless effort to prove my diligence and worth.
You can imagine my shock when my performance review came back negative.
Company culture plays an invaluable role in employee performance and satisfaction, and often it is organizational leaders who are at the forefront of implementing and maintaining a cohesive company culture. While fear-based workplace cultures used to dominate corporations and small businesses alike, the emergence of leadership development programs has shown us that leaders who delegate, coach, support, and treat their employees as part of a team and a community see higher rates of long-term productivity, worker satisfaction, and positive impacts on organizational bottom lines.
Note: Margins Notes are quick, 250-word or shorter posts that aim to pose a question and get our mental juices flowing. Check out the first Margin Notes post here.
Is it a manager’s business to think about if her employees are resting? This may sound like micromanaging. That’s an understandable fear, but there is evidence to suggest that managers who think about their team’s work but not their rest are missing out.
As early as 2011, experts were concerned and excited by hyperspecialization in the 21st Century. The basic idea: As the market explores the potential of the knowledge economy, specialization can surpass traditional divisions of marketing, sales, operations, and research. New organizational structure allows for micro-divisions of labor -- let’s take marketing for example.
Clarity in leadership is an essential aspect of modern management. It is also not something that comes naturally to everyone—luckily, it is something that can be learned! With enough work and a careful approach, anyone can improve their ability to manage with clarity.
Communicating clearly with the people you manage should be a priority. Not only is there the risk that tasks will be completed incorrectly or that team members will not be aligned, but unclear management will spread into other important aspects of company culture. In fact, the ability to foster trust in a team is deeply tied to clarity in leadership.
According to Dr. Paul J. Zak, “vague or impossible goals cause people to give up before they even start.” This is in contrast to a manager who has been trained effectively in clear communication and is able to inspire her direct reports by outlining audacious goals in terms that actually increase engagement. When a challenge is well explained and the path to success is outlined vividly, there is a net gain in engagement, even if the task is difficult.
When teaching managers how to better communicate with their teams, an easy improvement we all can make is to be specific when we set goals. This specificity is proven to increase manager effectiveness.
Action: Rather than tasking a team with “improving sales,” task a team with engaging with ten more leads a week than they currently do.
For many managers, it can be difficult to adopt emotional transparency as good practice. This isn’t to suggest that a manager needs to unload all of their emotional baggage on their team (this would probably confuse them more than anything!), but there is value in building a team culture in which openness is not just accepted but expected.
Action: Try starting team meetings with a short “State of Being” discussion. Model openness by sharing some of what is happening in your non-work life and encourage that others share as well.
There are many more ways to incorporate clarity into your management training offerings, but these are two solid first steps. By integrating these two tactics, team engagement will rise and team productivity will follow.