Leadership for Life – Giving Employees What They Want

By on February 17, 2015
Giving Employees What They Want

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

On more than one occasion, I’ve written about employee rewards, and how those rewards are not always about more money. A whole industry has grown up around the idea that employee recognition goes far beyond cash deposits. (Bob Nelson is the Guru of Employee Recognition. Read anything he’s written.) Let’s look more closely at what employees want and how to give it to them.

High on the list of what employees want is to be treated fairly. They want the rewards and recognition to go to those who genuinely deserve them, not the ones who have the requisite “brown-nosing” skills. By now everyone should know that there are no secrets in an organization. The rumor mill is often short on details, but the gist is often true. Employees know who the real stars are in an organization, and if the stars get short shrift, employees will not be happy.

Another must-have for today’s employees, especially the millennials, is work-life balance. People need to have a personal life away from work. One of the most demotivating things a boss can do is to drop by an employee’s work space at two minutes to five, and say, “Got a minute?” I once had a boss that did that regularly, and it meant that I’d be tied up for at least another half hour past nominal quitting time, often discussing trivia, or items that could easily have waited till the next day. Bosses need to remember that even the most engaged employee will never be as devoted to the business as the owner or CEO, and it’s not fair to manipulate employees into behaving as if they were.

Employees want to be involved in the way the business operates, especially in areas that directly affect them. You’re probably tired of hearing this from me already, but I’m not tired of saying it: If you want to change/improve a business process or operation, ask the people who are primarily responsible for that process/operation. Let them come up with the change or fix, and give them the resources and authority to implement it. Once the new system is up and running, give it some time, and then evaluate it with the team that put it in place. Give honest, concrete feedback (both positive and negative) and let the implementation team tweak as necessary. Don’t micromanage.

And speaking of authority, remember that responsibility without authority is a recipe for stress and burn-out. One of the key skills in delegating is to know how much authority has to go along with the new responsibilities you’re assigning. If you’re not ready to give up (or at least share) the authority, don’t bother delegating.

Is there more? Sure, but it’s early in the year and I don’t want to burden anyone with too much stuff to do. Keep watching this space, or ask me anything at bschapiro@stlcc.edu.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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