“We need to have a more ‘professional’ department!”
Although there are many ways to describe what ‘professional’ may mean to someone, there are some common traits that we will use here; productive employees with high morale because of good leadership.
How, then, can conscientious managers develop productive employees with high morale? The answer is found by looking at some fundamentals of human behavior.
People who are satisfied with their work rarely work contrary to the purpose of the organization. Employees who enjoy positive relationships with their leaders rarely miss work or productivity goals. Likewise, they provide excellent customer service because they are happy with themselves, their future, their leader, and their organization.
Your employees are spending this portion of their work life in your department. They are fundamentally no different than employees in any other with the same needs for personal and professional satisfaction, encouragement, and development as do people working in banks, auto plants, farming, or any government agency.
Several distinct elements within an organization’s culture (and its component departments) contribute to an employee’s morale. As we discuss these issues, please keep in mind that we are not talking only about your employees: we also mean you. Ask yourself how your leader treats you in these areas and the effect it has on your morale. If you will do that, it will become very easy to understand how your employees feel.
After you have asked yourself these questions (and answered them to yourself as honestly as you can tolerate), ask your direct reports to ask themselves these questions, too. Finally, send these same questions downward though the management levels in your organization. The answers to these questions will help you find the sources of potential discontent within your department or organization.
1. What incentive do you have to work in this department from a financial, professional, and personal development perspective?
2. Why do any of your employees want to work for you?
3. If there were a job available in our department that a friend of yours could do, would you recommend working here?
4. What are the measurable (measurable in terms of how well, how many, and by when) goals this year of our workplace department?
5. What are the measurable goals of your unit in support of our overall department?
6. What are your measurable personal goals for this year in support of your unit’s goals?
7. What are the top three things, in priority order, that you are paid to do today? What is your level of confidence that your leader will agree with that?
8. What are the top three things, in priority order, that each of your direct reports are paid to do today? What is your level of confidence that each of them can repeat those three in that exact order if you ask them?
9. What traits did the best boss you ever had use when leading you at work? (For example, “Gave me clear directions and left me alone to work”, “Allowed me to find my own answers”, “Gave me help when I needed it but did not micromanage”.) What was the impact on you when your best boss did that? (“It gave me a sense of accomplishment”, “Made me feel she trusted me”, “It told me he was interested in my development.”) What were your performance levels? (“I did 110% as my way of thanking him”, “I made sure I never did anything to abuse that trust”, “I did more than anyone else to show him how much I could do.”)
10. What “best boss” traits would your direct reports list about you? How would they describe the impact of those traits on them personally and on their work?
11. What kind of feedback about your performance do you get from your leader: bad news only, good news only, a balance of both; or none at all? How often do you get that feedback: on a regular basis, only when something negative happens, or never?
12. What kind of feedback do you give your direct reports about their performance for you: bad news only, good news only, a balance of both; or none at all? How often do you give them that feedback: on a regular basis, only when something negative happens, or never?
13. Who is your most and least favorite direct report? Can you honestly say that you treat them equally when they do something of equal consequence wrong? How about when they do something of equal consequence right? Do you look upon him or her as your favorite because of how they perform on the job or is there a chance they perform favorably or as a result of how you treat them? Do you look upon him or her as your least favorite because of how they perform on the job or is there a chance they perform unfavorably as a result of how you treat them?