Employees who love what they do often work a little harder to do their best. It's that sense of accomplishment and pride that only those who are engaged with their work can really understand. Getting to this ideal state, however, isn't something that simply happens. It's a perfect combination of getting the right person in the right work environment with the right management.
Yes, management (and even company leadership) is just as responsible for creating and maintaining the most helpful environment for success as the employee is. What to do to make this sort of atmosphere a reality is something that can only really be learned through experience.
Fortunately, managerial experience is something that Thrive president Jon Decker has quite a bit of. We sat down with him to find out more about how he's developed his leadership style over the years, as well as what sort of tips and tricks he has for managers and business leaders.
Why don’t you start off by telling a little about you and your experience. What kind of management positions have you been in?
I’ve been in all kinds of management positions. I had a position in fast food when I was younger. I’ve managed a retail storefront. I’ve overseen over 100 part-time employees. Now I’m in a president role. Overall, my collection of managerial experience is pretty robust. The variety of positions and situations I’ve been in over the years has really helped me grow and become the leader I am today. My failures have also taught me the biggest lessons. When you’re managing so many different people, you’re bound to fail. That’s ok. Just learn from it.
No doubt each group you managed was pretty different. Do you adjust your management style depending on the group you’re in charge of?
When I first started managing, I failed pretty hard since I thought everyone had to be like me. I was a great worker, so if others did what I did, they would be great workers too. Now, I know that’s about as wrong as you can get. Over time, I’ve learned to look at people's strengths and let them run in the right situation. If you find people that have the right attitude and effort, then you should just be there to help them thrive.
When you think of an employee doing their best work, what does that look like to you?
It's hard to describe, but I call it juice. It’s that energy you can see, almost like it's in the air. Another pretty good indicator is if the employee seems like they’re in their element. Simply put, that means the employee is happy and is in control of what they are doing, and have the confidence to do it well.
In your opinion, what are some of the best things a manager or leader can do to help their employees perform their best?
Concentrate on what you want to accomplish, not how to accomplish it. Allow your employees some freedom when it comes to how to accomplish a task. If you find that they’re having trouble, provide them with a few alternatives that help them view the problem from a different angle. You’ll have a much better company and much more satisfied employees if you help them come up with solutions instead of you dictating them.
On the flip side, is there anything you think managers or leaders do that actually hurts their employees?
The biggest thing I always see managers afraid of doing is getting rid of bad eggs. Don’t be afraid to move on from someone. If they’re not happy, you’re usually doing them a favor by pushing them out. Negative attitudes can be the biggest element that drags a company down. You can teach and train employees on just about any skill, but you can’t coach attitude and effort. A manager that keeps saying, “Well, let me work with them,” are just hurting themselves.