I have seen different groups in different organizations and I always find different levels of productivity. At one end, there are remarkably high productivity teams that have managed to implement best practices, processes and systems, where objectives are clear, people are motivated and great results are achieved. At the other end, there are teams with poor results, low morale, conflicts, and job dissatisfaction.
Many factors influence these differences. The factors can include things such as a deficient strategy, changes do to the Covid pandemic, conflicts between employees and slow adoption of needed technology, among others. However, all of them are more manageable when there’s a good boss.
A study by McKinsey reveals that the second factor with the most impact on life satisfaction is work satisfaction (the first is mental health), and the factor that most influence has on work satisfaction is interpersonal relations, within which 86% is driven by relationships with management.
Within relationships with management, the most important relationship is with the direct boss. Good bosses are not must managers, but leaders that inspire and motivate. They worry, not only about results, but also about the team’s wellbeing. They allow each member of the team to develop their capabilities and empowers them. They communicate a clear direction and establish realistic expectations.
During this time, when Covid has caused a lot of additional stress and human interation has been limited, it is essential that employees be valued, that they recognize the impact of their work, and perform in an emotionally safe environment.
Many bosses get to high ranks thanks to individual accomplishments and projection of self-confidence, but those person-centered attributes don’t necessarily translate into good leadership. According to Why are Great Managers so Rare by Randall Beck and James Harter, companies fail to choose the right talent 82% of the time. But it’s not the end of the world. Companies can improve by guiding and training their managers.
To improve management quality, bosses should:
- Develop trust with the team: Trust takes time. Showing interest in each person’s wellbeing, not just at work but in their lives, allows you to understand what difficulties they can be going through and to help them overcome them. You must be honest and empathic. Yes, you have to put yourself in their shoes and understand how to say things before opening your mouth. A clear and sympathetic communication will allow the team to feel comfortable with you and communicate timely.
- Provide a clear direction: Whatever the strategy of the company, the boss has to clearly state what the strategy means and how each one contributes to the objectives, the importance of the work they do and the expected results. Regarding results, you need to talk about it with each one. It takes time, but it is the best way to get commitment with them. And this is not all, frequent follow up is required.
- Guide and empower employees: People’s level of experience and knowledge varies. A new employee will need guidance and training, and the supervisor must enable it. But as know-how is acquired, you must empower people. Few things at work can bring as much satisfaction as a job well done and empowering the members of the team improves the results of whole team. Some may see this as a threat, but it really is the complete opposite. Developing a direct report is the best proof of being a good boss.
- Roll up your sleeves and work with them: Sometimes it seems like some managers are there only to give orders. On the contrary, bosses are also trainers. If you got that position because of your experience and the team is not getting the results, you need to take a deep dive into the work of the group and understand what is not working, what can be improved, what is missing and do what others are doing. This is a chance to show what you know and get loyalty from your team.
- Recognize victories and mistakes: There’s nothing worse than an ungrateful boss, or one that takes the team’s victory as his own. When a person does something good, thank then soon after. People look for validation and recognition. It is a basic need. Give recognition publicly and correct others in private. When a mistake’s been made, you must be frank and identify lessons learned to move forward and grow. This goes both ways, don’t just give feedback, also ask for it, to improve as a boss.
All of this will bring better results. Motivated employees learn more, increase their productivity and improve the quality of their work. This, in turn, produces better products and services, which makes for satisfied customers and improves profitability. Moreover, having a good boss makes people happier, an that is priceless.