It’s 2010, and most of the population is fully aware of the economic downturn and troubling times our country is in, especially on the job front. Companies are downsizing and laying off workers. The employees left behind are often expected to take on more responsibility and burden without rewards. Many companies have freezes on pay raises and promotions, which brings morale and motivation down even further. How do we cope?
Even though we’re a nation of strong and dedicated people, more help is needed to get us through these trying times. We need encouragement to hang on long enough in order to move forward to a better future. If you find yourself in a position as the boss or a manager of a group of people, or perhaps you’re the owner of a small business and have employees under you, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people who work for you. Here are five common sense suggestions that I think could go a long way in helping everyone deal a little better with these difficult times.
Good Morning and I really mean it.
Okay, you wouldn’t say that literally, but you understand what I’m trying to say. Being courteous and having good manners seem to be dying virtues in the workplace today. So it needs to be revived. And now. We all want to be treated with respect. And we all want our work environment to be as stress free as possible. A huge step in getting those things is how we treat each other on a daily basis. We don’t want to hear outbursts of cursing. We don’t want to hear bickering. As the boss, you can set a good example by your own actions. Acknowledge the people who work for you. It doesn’t hurt to smile and be friendly. It puts everyone in a better mood and creates a pleasant atmosphere.
How’s the fam?
Of course you don’t need to be your employee’s BFF, but I do think it’s important that you know who your people are in their personal lives. Are they single, married, have a bunch of kids, do some weird hobby on the weekends, stuff like that. Be informed. Have a bit of a chat with your employees, one on one. Maybe they’re dealing with a health issue or a sick parent. Ask how they’re doing. Get to know them personally. It’s a gesture that shows your employee that you’re taking an interest in who they are, aside from their work.
Hey, whatcha doin’?
No one wants a boss peering over their shoulder to see what they’re doing. But employees do want their boss to be aware of their hard work and acknowledge their accomplishments. If you manage a group of people, you should know what their duties are and to be sure that all responsibilities are divided fairly among the group. You want to avoid the scenario where one employee consistently needs to work extra hours because they’re overwhelmed, while the person in the next cubicle has time to shop online throughout the day. As the boss, it’s your job to know what your people are working on and to make sure they’re sufficiently challenged in order to feel fulfilled and productive.
As part of providing a calm workplace environment, you don’t want to play the role of dictator or sergeant. When people are stressed, it’s more important than ever to let some little things slide now and then and ease up on some restrictions and rules if you can. If someone gets into work a little late one day because they needed to drop off their child in the rain, it should be no big deal. If someone needs to maybe leave a little early in order to keep a doctor appointment, send them on their way without fear of your disapproval. Yes, our jobs are very important to us, but it’s nice when our managers are aware that life is still happening around us each and every day with its many ups and downs.
Let’s gather ’round the bonfire
One good practice that I think goes a long way in achieving a happy and efficient work environment for your people, is to have a weekly meeting. Perhaps do it every Friday afternoon, which gives it a more casual atmosphere. This is the time where you can really communicate with your group and also get their feedback. Make this meeting a friendly one in which employees feel free to speak up. It gives you the opportunity to acknowledge current frustrations, it gives you the chance to voice your appreciation for all their hard work and dedication, and it’s your moment to ask your workers for their continued support in helping you achieve a smooth and efficient work environment.
If you think back, we’ve all had a manager or two in our past who we admired and who allowed us to shine as an employee of theirs. What were the qualities that made them memorable as your boss? Try to emulate their good qualities.
In some ways, an employer is part mentor, part parent, part counselor, all the while managing work. Making sure your people are acknowledged, treated with respect, are not overloaded but have good and challenging work to do, and feel appreciated, are the most important things you can do as their boss. Your people are what makes you successful. If you treat them well, then they will want to treat you well too by being a good member of your team and a good employee. It is especially important now.