The Foundations of a Great Place to Work

WHAT SKILLS DO MANAGERS NEED?

To be a good accountant you need to be good with accounting, finance, tax, commercial law and more. So what skills do you need to be a good manager? The problem is that they don’t teach you how to be a good boss in business school. That’s why most employees think their boss isn’t a very good manager. Being a great boss isn’t that much different to any profession - there are essential skills for bosses to know and master. I call them the Foundational Manager Skills. (Scroll down for your bonus download - The Essential Manager Skills You Need to Know)

These Foundational Skills are built on the cornerstones of:

  • People
  • Relationships
  • Communication
  • Growth

Done properly these skills motivate employees and make great places to work. This series will explain how these skills work and what mistakes to avoid when motivating your employees. If you want to be a better boss, then you’re in the right place. Watch the first video in this series here now...

This Module is Part of Boss Camp

Boss Camp will show you how to improve employee performance by showing you what they never taught you in school. The program includes topics such as:

  • How to motivate employees
  • What are bad employee motivators
  • What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description
  • How leaders get power
  • Management techniques that don't take time

Bonus Download - The Essential manager Skills You Need To Know

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Foundations of a Great Place to Work (Part 1 Introduction)

What Skills do Managers Need?

To be a good accountant you need to be good with accounting, finance, tax, commercial law and more. So what skills do you need to be a good manager? The problem is that they don’t teach you how to be a good boss in business school. That’s why most employees think their boss isn’t a very good manager. Being a great boss isn’t that much different to any profession - there are essential skills for bosses to know and master. I call them the Foundational Manager Skills. These Foundational Skills are built on the cornerstones of:

  • People
  • Relationships
  • Communication
  • Growth

Done properly these skills motivate employees and make great places to work. This series will explain how these skills work and what mistakes to avoid when motivating your employees. If you want to be a better boss, then you’re in the right place.

The Power of Employee Engagement

Why do some employees work hard while others see work as a dirty word? Why are some employees engaged while others are only working to pay the bills? The difference is that engaged employees find value and meaning in the work they do. When employees find value and meaning in their work:

  • They take ownership for their work,
  • They make a positive contribution and
  • They stay in their jobs longer.

And it’s more than that because it’s not just about the paycheck, these employees get work satisfaction, these employees have better life satisfaction.

Now it would be great if all your employees engaged in their work but the research says that only around one fifth of the workforce is fully engaged. But you as their boss don’t have to accept unmotivated employees. Because you have the power to help your employees to find value and meaning in the work they do. What I will share with you is what are the motivators that make people engaged at work and easier to manage. And I’ll show you how these tie directly to the Foundational Management skills. And this isn’t something that you have to wait for HR to fix. You will see that these things are all in the direct power of you, the boss, to change. As I like to say

“People are amazing when they are sufficiently motivated they can do almost anything.”

Part 1: Introduction

This module is part one of the Foundations of a Great Place to Work. Management styles vary but highly effective managers have these attributes in common:

  • Firstly they know how to hire the right person for the job and then once they’ve got them:
  • They agree clear expectations
  • They have functional relationships with their directs,
  • They encourage better performance over time,
  • They develop and increase the utilization of their staff through delegation,
  • They grow and develop employees through coaching and mentoring and,
  • They adapt their management style because each person is different

In this series I’ll explain the key behaviors and skills of effective managers.

Change Starts With You

But change starts with you, the boss, the first step to creating a fulfilling workplace and having motivated staff starts with your own self leadership. How can you manage others if you can’t manage yourself? The reason that I’m talking directly to you as a boss is because:

  • you are the most important person in your employees work life.
  • You are the person who can make a difference and
  • you are also the person who get’s stuck with the consequences of bad employees.

So if you want to work in a better place, be aware that the way we work isn’t working. Be aware that there is a better way and be aware that there’s no-one else but you that is going to make it better and has the power to make it better. Change doesn’t just happen through wishes, it happens through a commitment. And that’s what the power hour is about.

Why do this?

Why do this? My personal view is that unhappy, demotivated workers are one of the biggest problems we face - you can imagine how unhappy people are if they aren’t finding value and meaning in their jobs. If most people hate their jobs, you can imagine how this is bad for work quality. Most of your employees would rather be somewhere else. What does this means for you the boss? In my experience, improving employee performance is the best investment you can make. In financial return but also life happiness. This section isn’t about the business case benefits, if you are interested in the facts and figures then see the business case section.

Bad Employee Motivation Through Extrinsic Motivators

The bad way to motivate employees is by using extrinsic motivators, yet f you ask the average manager how to motivate employees, the usual response is some sort of bonus or incentive program. It’s true that a pay rate discrepancy can be demotivational. But once people earn enough to live relatively comfortably money is not a good motivator.

Why Money is a Bad Motivator

Money is a Bad Motivator. Using monetary incentives can result in negative behaviors and even become demotivational. I like to say that

“A good manager doesn’t need to bribe their staff to get them to do what they should do anyway”

Other ineffective motivators that bad bosses use include:

  • Fear through aggression, shouting, job security threats and
  • Compliance through formal role power

Not only are these bad motivators, they create horrible workplaces. But I understand all too well that it’s difficult to get people to do what you want, unless you know how and that’s what the next section is about.

Intrinsic Motivators are More Effective

To create a better workplace and make managing easy there is a better way and this is to use intrinsic motivators. Many studies have investigated what drives employee engagement and employee retention across different companies and cultures. Whilst language may differ, the great news is that these factors test consistently over time, across cultures and in different types of companies. The other great thing for managers is that most of these factors are also within the control of the manager. Meaning that you don’t have to wait for HR, because you have the power to engage and retain your employees with a few simple techniques.

And the things that make employees work hard because of intrinsic motivation are also the things that create great workplaces. These Management Foundations here’s a quick overview:

  • Selection and Onboarding: What motivates people is people themselves. Match the right person to the job and they will practically manage themselves. That’s why the single most important thing to get right is to hire the right staff.

But hardly any managers are ever trained in this skill which explains why so many new hires become bad hires. The other thing that people like is clear performance expectations. You can do this anytime but the best time is with new employees rather than trying to change embedded behaviours. My challenge to you is look around your team - are there people that shouldn’t there? And Do you have the abilities you need in your team?

  • Then we have functional relationships - employees perform when they have functional relationships with their boss and colleagues. You choose your friends but work forces you into close proximity with people you are not compatible with. So you can’t take it for granted that employees will have functional relationships. The question to ask yourself: Are your employees committed to you and willing to go the extra mile for you? Are you satisfied with your relationship with your boss? If not, it’s likely your employees feel the same way

  • People want to do meaningful work, they want to be valued and to have their contribution acknowledged. Feedback and performance management - this isn’t what your employees want from you because they don’t listen and they aren’t motivated by these negative behaviours. What motivates your employees is Inspiring Performance Communication. My challenge to you is to ask yourself: Do you feel your employees are performing as well as you’d like? Do your employees listen to you when you ask them to do better?

  • People want the flexibility to do their job the way they think it should be done. No one likes a micromanager. It’s very de-motivating to be told how to do your job. Feeling in control releases creativity and problem solving. But it’s challenging to encourage your employees to work harder while owning their own solutions. This is what active listening skills are for. Active listening is an uncommon skill that inspires people and helps them to find their own solutions in a way that they take ownership for them. My question to you is: do you find yourself solving a lot of problems for your employees or do you feel that your employees take ownership for their work?

  • People want to grow and learn. People want to use their skills. People like doing what they are good at. People are motivated by mastering skills. There are many examples of people making sacrifices to grow. On the other side people leave jobs when they feel stagnant. Growth has a beautiful double benefit because as a manager, you want and you need your employees to get better at their jobs. As a manager there are lots of things you can do to grow your employees such as developing their skills, delegating new responsibilities to them, providing a mentor or career progression. Ask yourself if you feel your employees need to improve their skills and capabilities. Are you using growth to motivate your employees?

  • Diversity. People want to be treated as individuals. Which is why what works for one person doesn’t work for another. People have different strengths and weaknesses and the best bosses use diversity as a strength. They know how to adapt for different people and the DISC behaviour model is a powerful but simple way to manage diversity. Ask yourself if the way your employees act makes sense to you? Do you allocate tasks according to personalities? Do you adapt your communication and motivation for each employee?

These are the reasons that employees work hard. There’s no magic formula, no special incentive program. Just these basic, common human desires. Things like fancy offices and free lunches are more about dealing with the symptoms of a lack of motivation not the causes. Ask yourself if you’d prefer to work in a pretty office and get free meals but have to do meaningless work, with no growth and bad relationships. Clearly people aren’t finding value and meaning in their work because most people are unhappy in their jobs. This is why employees are unproductive and managing them is a pain in the butt. This is why we need to wake up and find a better way.

There are a few special mentions:

  • Productivity is built on wellbeing - physical and mental well-being determines how much energy and focus people can bring to their jobs. This is true for your staff and it’s true for you too.

  • Everything starts with you. You are the boss in charge. You are the centre of your own universe. Your own self leadership & productivity is what makes the difference because the Manager Foundations are in your power. Motivating your staff isn’t the job of HR or someone else. You can wish for happy, motivated staff but no one else is going to make it happen. But time is the biggest challenge we face so that’s what the power hour process is all about.

Putting it into practice

I’m out of space to give you the research that proves how important these are but I think you’ll recognise these as self evident truths. This is the theoretical knowledge of why these skills are essential What’s more important is how to convert these concepts into actionable items. And that’s what the rest of Boss Camp is about. In my experience bosses know they should be delegating etc. but they aren’t getting the results because no-one showed them how to make it fast, easy and effective.

Conclusion

Congratulations, you’re already better than the average manager because the average manager believes that incentives are the best way to motivate your employees. Before you spend money on another incentive scheme ask yourself if you are first using intrinsic motivators?

As a quick reminder great bosses create awesome, productive places to work by getting the Foundations right:

The beauty is you don’t have to do everything - the current state of management is very poor - just look at how many people have a story about a hated, incompetent boss. It’s like they say - in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. You can’t change the world in a day, start with a small thing and find out what works for you.

I’ve given you a quick overview of several concepts. The plan is to go over each of these topics to show how they can be put into practice in the most pain free way. What you will find is that there’s too much to start off with in one go. You will see that these concepts interrelate for example you can use the active listening skills to encourage employees to solve their own problems when you delegate. But these techniques can be applied in isolation too.