There are many different leadership styles and ways of managing out in the workforce. While they all have their pros and cons, one of the most effective styles is being an employee-centric leader. Not only will this help keep your staff morale up and help when you need to get everyone on board for a collaborative effort, but it also helps with employee retention and cutting a lot of the costs of hiring and training associated with high employee turnover rates. If being an employee-centric leader seems like a good fit for your work environment, here are some steps you can take to gear your leadership style more towards focusing on your employees.
Focus on Interpersonal Relationships
When looking for an employee-centric leader, you can usually find them right there with their staff working on getting things done. They use the job as a way to build teamwork skills, get closer to their staff and understand their specific needs, and make sure they feel supported in what they’re doing. Building these kinds of relationships with your staff is important because it will help you provide the tools they need to succeed and also gives them the confidence and safety in knowing they can come to you with any problems they’re having without having to worry.
Take Advantage of Teachable Moments
Employees will make mistakes. It’s inevitable, and nobody is perfect. Instead of just chewing them out and sending them on their way with nothing gained, turn it into a teachable moment. Find out what the root cause of the problem was (inattentiveness, confusing instructions, stress under a high-pressure environment) and teach them skills to help overcome those struggles in the future. This way, you’ll not only gain the trust and support of your employees but also be consistently improving the skillsets of your workers.
Know When to Discipline and How
While a lot of employees will take well to this style of leadership, there is such a thing as a bad employee. Essentially those workers who just want to get by doing as little as possible or who are adamant about doing things their way even if it breaks every protocol in the book. The teaching moments work well for those who simply make mistakes, are still learning, or just don’t do well under pressure, but you might have to employ other strategies for the ones digging their feet in the sand and refusing to change their ways. The important thing is not to yell or scream, even if you are getting frustrated.
The problem employee likely won’t respond well to it, and your other employees might wonder what happened to set you off and start avoiding or treating the problem employee differently as well, which can cause problems in the team dynamic. Be detailed, explain the issue objectively (avoid phrases like ‘you have an attitude problem’ and focus on facts like ‘you aren’t following protocols or safety regulations), and then listen to their side of things. Perform any write-ups or other disciplinary actions needed, and then make a record of the meeting and what was discussed and, if possible, have them sign verifying that the meeting happened. Be sure not to use language agreeing to the disciplinary actions (use a separate form for those). This last part is important. Without this record, it can be very difficult to actually fire an employee if need be, especially in a unionized environment. If the employee is truly unfit for the job, be it their personality, work ethic, or just being a bad fit for the task, having a timeline of events can help not only provide evidence as to why they’re being let go but also counter any arguments about them not being aware of the situation or what they were doing wrong.