Are you a good boss? A better question might be, do your employees think you’re a good boss? In a recent poll on Farm-Equiment.com, we asked you what you need to most improve on as a leader. Overwhelmingly, the answer was employee management. (The poll is still open if you haven’t had a chance to vote yet.) I don’t think the results should surprise any of us. As one reader commented, “I clicked ‘Employee Management’ as my choice to improve. Bingo, overwhelming, so did many others, the results show.”
Managing people isn’t something that necessarily comes naturally to us, and it’s often not what leads to us being in a management role to begin with. Think about your parts and service managers. They are likely the department managers because they were standout service techs or parts people. But, managing a department and its staff is more than being good at completing a task. I recently attended The Global Leadership Summit, and one of the biggest takeaways I got out of the 2 days was that employees want — and need — frequent one-on-one attention. And it’s not just a millennial thing … it’s a people thing.
Marcus Buckingham, who presented at the summit and founded of The Marcus Buckingham Co., says, “There is one silver bullet that forms the foundation of a great team: frequent strengths-based check-ins about near term future work.” These should be one-on-one conversations with the employees you manage and you need to do them every week. He says there are just two questions you as the manager need to ask in these meetings: 1. What are you priorities for the week? And 2. How can I help? “One year is made up of 52 little sprints. Your job is to make sure sprint number 37 is as energized and focused as sprint #1,” he says.
He adds that the one-on-one check-in isn’t about giving feedback. “There is all sorts of research that shows we go into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode in the face of feedback. People don’t want feedback; they want attention and coaching.” He also advises that you should only manage as many people as you can honestly have one-on-one check ins with every week.
What managing employees really comes down to is communication and more specifically regular communication. And don’t forget, communication is a two-way street. It’s not just talking; it’s listening too. I recently read How to Be a Great Boss by Gino Wickman and René Boer, and much of what they say revolves around the need for regular communication with the individuals you’re managing and making sure expectations are clear. You and your employees both need to have goals, know what each other’s goals are and work together to achieve them. It’s a quick and easy read, but offers a lot of solid advice in it. It’s worth a read whether you’ve been the boss for decades or are new to a management role. At the end of the day, when you and your employees are communicating and everyone is clear on expectations and the company’s mission, everyone involved is going to be more successful.