It’s Cranky Co-Workers Day on 27th of October (yes, it’s a real thing). Every office has at least one Negative Nancy or Difficult Dan, so how do you effectively manage your workforce – even the tricky characters?
Keeping a positive attitude is essential to having a motivated and productive workforce, but it can be tricky if there is any dissention in the ranks. We’ve got a few tips up our sleeve to help you manage your workforce – even if they’re being a tricky bunch to handle.
Set Clear Boundaries And Expectations
You may find that, without clear boundaries, your workforce will push back on your authority. The worst thing to do is become despotic, cracking down on the smallest errors – but at the same time, cutting people too much slack will allow them to take advantage.
Ensure your staff know what is expected of them when they’re at work. Create opportunities for them to be involved in projects but make it clear that final decisions and delegations fall to you. That way, they’ll feel more involved – and therefore more motivated – but you still have the executive decision on a project, which’ll establish your authority.
Set Clear Goals
Along with clear expectations – such as the office dress code, punctuality, expected response times for internal emails, and other HR processes – you need to set goals. Shared team goals will enable your team to more easily visualise the why of working on a project, and will help provide a clear target to aim for.
A goal doesn’t have to be sales-related, either. You could set goals such as weekly team catch-up meetings to make sure everyone is in the loop. Make this meeting mandatory and it’ll help your team bond, work together more efficiently, and open communication lines for better productivity.
The rumour mill is the number one most destructive force to any team. As soon as you hear the rumblings of a rumour, whether it’s about a person or the state of the business, track down the source. It may be tempting to have a confrontational meeting with the culprit but, instead, try to have an open conversation where no blame is laid.
It’s important to find out why a rumour has started: is it due to a disgruntled employee? Is someone spreading confidential information? Is someone just trying to create drama for the sake of it. Understanding the root cause of a rumour will help to dispel any unrest in the team.
A rumour can quickly spread, undermining team motivation as soon as they feel negatively towards either another colleague or the company. Even plain gossip can bring a negative mood to the working atmosphere, so it’s essential to stop any rumours in their tracks as soon as you hear of them.
Use Communication Tools
If you have a remote workforce, you probably already use communication tools such as Skype to keep in touch, but these can be useful tools even if your entire team is office-based.
Using tools such as Yammer or HipChat can reduce wasted time spent on emails, as questions are answered quickly and easily. Team collaboration software can help to improve productivity, as people are assigned accountability for their tasks and the team are able to see progress to help motivate them.
Open lines of communication with your team will significantly improve any negative atmosphere you’re currently experiencing. Many managers find that their employees are unhappy because they feel there are obstacles to completing their work (such as someone else not pulling their weight), or they don’t have the tools to finish the task (such as not being able to get hold of someone on the team for information). Communication tools will enable your team to be more proactive – and therefore more productive, and more motivated.
Implement Regular Employee Feedback Opportunities
You set expectations of your workforce – so make sure you set expectations they can have of you, too. One of these could be to implement regular feedback sessions with your team.
You could do this through an online survey that your team can fill out anonymously, to vent their frustrations as well as tell you what’s been going right in the last month or two.
Another option would be to arrange regular one-to-one meetings with each team member on a monthly basis, with a structured outcome. Ensure these meetings follow a framework that includes feedback on both sides, suggestions for improvement (again, on both sides), and clear action points to complete before the next meeting.
Doing this will help you to cultivate a positive and engaged workforce who will feel that you take their personal development as seriously as the growth of the business. The opportunity for feedback is highly valuable: employees are able to learn about areas they can improve on, while you’re also privy to feedback about your performance and how to improve, too. This two-way constructive feedback system will allow your staff to feel like they are being listened to, and respected, which is essential for a happy team.