What do you have at the end of the day when you have a product or service to offer consumers, consumers that want to purchase your product or service, but no one in between to make that sale happen? A concept. Managers who care for their employees – and I mean truly care about their state of mind with their job, helping them to get to the next step in their career, and help them feel good about the work they do – find that they have stronger teams, more productive employees, increased customer satisfaction, which all translates to more sales. They also find that they’re not just a manager, they’re a leader.
I have been a leader most of my life, but professionally for 20+ years. In every position I’ve held, I have always held one important concept above all others – I care about my people. It hasn’t failed me yet. I have four ways I do this.
Develop meaningful goals
I talk to my people and ask them to really think about what they want to focus on. What opportunities do they see? What do they want to do and how do they want to do it? Do they want to advance to the next level in their career? What areas interest them? The list could go on.
Developing goals that are meaningful to them in a personal way is the best motivator. Not money or recognition or admiration. I work with my people to find out what those goals look like and I always ask “how can I help”?
How can I help?
Creating a goal and letting it sit on a shelf doesn’t do anything to motivate or progress towards the goal completion. I try to give ideas on ways I can help, or even on opportunities I see, but ultimately it is up to them to work towards that goal. When I’m asked for help I sincerely do everything I can to help them. Sometimes it’s my time on the phone to brainstorm ideas, give feedback, or just listen, and sometimes it’s finding resources on a specific topic.
In every situation, I encourage my people. I believe in them and want to see them succeed. Most people can tell if someone is sincere or if they’re just going through the motions. I want my people to feel supported, motivated, and important. I actively encourage, but I’m also very straightforward and my people know that and see that it’s an act of caring.
Lead them, don’t manage them
There are leaders and there are managers. Much of my career I have been both. Sure, I manage the numbers, policies, procedures, training, etc. But, I also lead my team. I wouldn’t ask my team to do something I wouldn’t do. I am constantly looking for ways to motivate and grow my people and teams. I try to put myself in their shoes before asking them to do something. And I try to have compassion and patience for anything that doesn’t go right. People can feel when they’re being managed and when they’re being led.
I’ve been a part of and have helped build some of the strongest teams I’ve seen. It’s not always easy, but for me, it is always worth it.