In November, I posted a blog post on leadership lessons I have learned over the past 20 years of leading and being led. In an effort to demonstrate that I am still learning, I am posting a few more. I find that the very practice of publishing helps to keep the lessons top of mind and offers a record to which I can return.
Err on the side of openness and transparency - this is one of those cultural transformations I discuss with clients who are starting to deploy enterprise social computing applications. This topic is usually brought up as one of the critical changes a company should consider if they wish to call themselves a practitioner of Enterprise 2.0. But, this is a very difficult transformation at both macro and micro levels. On a personal level, I try to manifest this trait by arming my employees with as much information as I can legally and ethically share. In no way am I suggesting that you violate corporate governance. However, knowledge that is often not at all confidential is still hoarded for reasons of ego or power. Or because the trust in the employee really doesn't exist. Both reasons are dysfunctional - the first on the part of the manager and the second…well, probably on the part of the manager as well. The second may be because the employee has proven not to be trustworthy, but this is a performance management issue. See my previous leadership post.
Taylor your communication appropriately to the employee and the situation - I tend to use a sense of humor extensively (excessively?) at work and this provides for a fun environment and guides me through some challenging times. But, playful ribbing may not be taken in the same way by all people. It is also the case that the same playful ribbing which was fun the previous day is taken more personally on a day when someone is experiencing their own personal or professional challenges. It is prudent to be aware and mindful of how your words are perceived by others. While true for everyone (including your close family members), this is particularly true for your reports, as any interpretation of discord from the manager holds more weight than the same interpretation from a co-worker.
Take the time to address issues of importance to your employees - we are all busy. We all believe what we are doing at any particular moment is the most important thing in the world. And, we really think those activities are important when they affect personal gain and ego stroking. But, your employees have their own needs and it is your job to address them. Does an employee need to vent and just wants you to listen? Is a performance review pending and you keep putting it off, because it is not important to you or you expect there to be some conflict? Does an employee need your input on an important issue to get the job done? I saw a great quote the other day (can't remember the source) - The way you are treating your employees is the way your employees are treating your customers. Wow. As the person responsible for customer care at NewsGator, this one really caught my attention. It drove home the point that you should be as diligent about treating your employees well as you are about making sure your customers are happy. So, I challenge any of my staff to remind me of this last bullet point when I am getting too uppity and think I don't have time to listen.