Management and workforce often approach new ideas from opposite directions. What distinguishes good managers is getting everybody on-board of their own volition, while walking the talk themselves.
September 24, 2018 4 min read
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Six months ago, my manager unexpectedly left our company, and I was put in charge of our marketing agency department. I won’t deny that it was a positive surprise for me. Not because I didn’t like our previous manager or because of my ruthless thirst for power, but because I had so many ideas I wanted to implement. Finally, I had my chance to take the reigns and implement all the ideas in my head.
New is always better — to a manager.
I have always believed that “new is always better,” as said by Neil Patrick Harris’s character in the long-running sitcom How I Met Your Mother. While many new leaders feel that way, it is almost impossible to get that point across to employees. To understand why, you need to look at it from the employee’s perspective.
For them, new approaches are scary and demand that they come out from their comfort zone. There is no way they’ll do that unless you show them the clear benefits they’ll receive from trying something new. The key to helping your employees is to communicate your ideas clearly and often. Internal communication is more than just a buzzword.
Learning to “get” your employees.
As I learned in my first months as a manager, leadership is about getting measurable results as a team. But it is also about making sure employees understand why changes are necessary, why you make the decisions you make, and how leadership decisions benefit them. Communications is the key. Especially since employee engagement drops 2 percent in teams whose manager ignores workers.
After I had settled into my new role as manager, I had a one-on-one discussion with everyone in our department. One-on-ones are a vital part of keeping your employees engaged. I found out, they didn’t think much needed to be changed in our work process. Everything was going well, and I was told not to break something that works. Still, I wanted to try out my ideas.
Communicating how a new process or program benefits employees is critical. A good example is how I implemented online weekly reporting with my team.
Employees need to know you are working for their benefit.
I felt our marketing agency team could benefit from using the Plans, Progress, Problems (PPP) methodology to better achieve our quarterly goals. However, telling employees they need to do more reporting is not something that raises morale or makes you popular in the office.
So, I made sure to explain to everyone personally how using a reporting system that takes 10 minutes a week, actually saves them time. As the PPP methodology makes sure, you don’t spend your time on fake work and meaningless tasks.
One of the benefits of one-on-one meetings is that employees feel part of the decision making process. When people know their ideas are heard and concerns listened to, they will be more committed to the outcome. I also started using the system openly for my personal tasks. Great managers build trust and act as examples to employees.
Why we implemented weekly reporting.
The system we implemented in the end was the system I wanted. But the PPP methodology itself also had gone through some changes based on employee feedback.
Every week everyone in the team jots down five or six important tasks they will work on; their plans. As they get them done, they then move them into progress. If an employee encounters problems with some tasks, they can be moved into the problems column. From that kind of report, I, as a manager, can get a quick bird’s-eye view of everything my team is working on, and can intervene if needed.
People generally like to do things and accomplish tasks the way they’ve always done them. They are afraid to get out of their comfort zone. You must break old habits and get them just as excited as you are about new initiatives. The only way to do that is to communicate that excitement to make them see that you only have their best interests at heart.