Management – Change Your Ways, Not Theirs

When you own or manage a business, it is important to understand the psychology behind human motivation if you want to bring out the best in your employees. A big part of this is realizing that there is not one universal way to effectively communicate with each person on your staff. Everyone responds to information differently – some do better with written instructions, some need visual displays, and others need oral conversations. Most often, a combination of approaches is the most successful. Regardless of the method, communication is the key to understanding what your team members can do, what they want to do, and figuring out how to develop their career paths accordingly.

In too many instances, the biggest deterrent to employee progress is not the lack of individual drive, but poor leadership. The people in charge often dictate the way things must be done, expecting employees to adapt (the “my way or the highway” power approach). But micromanaging tends to diminish the potential, creativity, and satisfaction of employees. Conversely, those who are given the freedom to figure out which methods work best for them tend to be more productive, happier, and may even find better solutions that lead to a more successful business.

Instead of trying to get others to change their ways, see what happens when you change yours. Embrace the differences in your employees, and be open to new suggestions. If things get done well, it shouldn’t matter how they get done. Allow people the freedom to figure out what works best for them, and appreciate unique perspectives that you may not have seen before. And, most importantly, communicate in the method that works best for them, not for you. If you continue emailing written instructions to someone who absorbs information better in person, you likely will not get the optimal results. If your method of organization is too complicated for the person actually completing the tasks, you will lose productivity. Additionally, you and your employees will all become frustrated, which will negatively impact the work even further. Your job as a manager is not to get everyone to do their jobs in the way you would do them. It is to ensure their jobs get done efficiently and effectively, while also encouraging growth, development, job satisfaction, and success.

Obviously, learning the traits of each individual gets increasingly difficult the larger your staff becomes, because it is not always practical to spend significant one-on-one time with everyone. The people, however, are the most important element of your business, and you should make the time to get to know them. Otherwise, the chance of missed potential and opportunities is far too risky, and your business may not thrive to the best of its ability.

At some point, you have to decide whether it’s worth fighting for your process, at the expense of turnover and low morale, or if it’s time to change your behavior instead. In general, most people want to do well. You just have to give them the chance.