Therefore I will be posting some tips and advice of the coming weeks targeted specifically at helping line managers be both better role models but also to help them develop the skills that they need. As always I will try and keep this practical and pragmatic – my aim is for it to be as useful as possible!
One of the key roles of the line manager is in motivating his employees and in the current climate this is more important than ever. Loads of research has been done on what motivates employees (if you want the theory then check out Herzberg and McClelland) but for me it boils down to one key factor:
If you feel good about your job then you will be motivated. The better you feel, the more motivated you are.
OK, I here you say – so what is the secret of making people feel good about their job? Actually, that’s also quite straight forward:
I feel good about my job when I can see that what I do makes a difference.
As a line manager some of the motivating factors are in your control and some aren’t. The kind of things that you can influence are:
Achievement: can your team see how they are achieving things over a period of time? It is really easy to drift from week to week without looking back and reflecting on what you have achieved. Incremental achievements over a period of time can add up to some big things. As the line manager just take a moment to remind people how much they have achieved so that they can realise their contribution.
Recognition – do your people feel that all of those long hours, sweat and stress are being recognised? Recognition doesn’t have to mean an ‘employee of the month’ award. Often a simple conversation can work wonders or perhaps just talking about it at a team meeting. If people don’t feel they are being recognised then they will be thinking ‘why do I bother’…
Interesting work – interesting work means different things to different people. For some it is variety and being exposed to new situations whilst for others it could be fixing things or solving problems. As a line manager take a bit of time to understand what aspects of their jobs your people like and don’t like. Next time a new piece of work needs doing use these insights to allocate the work according to both their interests and also to the areas where they want to develop.
Responsibility – When people are given responsibility to complete something they will feel like they both own the task and have control over what they are doing. Of course people may need some coaching and hand holding but be careful not to micro manage them. A good line manager will allocate responsibility within his team. A great line manager will allocate this according to development needs and will even (carefully) let people fail if it provides a positive learning experience.
Advancement and Personal Development – If people can see themselves progressing in an organisation then this is usually the result of the first three items being put into practice. As a line manager you should make it clear to people what they need to demonstrate and achieve in order to advance in the organisation. Giving them lots of constructive feedback along the way is how a good line manager steers people towards their career goals. When a pilot steers the plane he makes a series of really small adjustments all of the time rather than yanking at the controls – this is how a good line manager looks after his people.
If you are a line manager have a think about your team and how often you are considering these motivating factors. It really doesn’t take much………..but it does require some effort. The best bit is that when you are able to motivate your own staff then it is one of the most rewarding and motivating aspects of being a line manager – a definite win/win situation!