How To Get People To Manage Themselves

I have a very short fuse for employees who can’t do what they are told. People in general really. What has become so hard about doing what you are asked? Doing what you agreed to? The problem is becoming so prevalent, I see whole industries and regions being changed by the lethargy, tardiness and absenteeism of a work force. How hard is it to listen, do, repeat?

Really hard. I recently had two new employees joining my team and I cannot tell you how successful it felt to have them arrive to the job site, on time. While, it would have been nice to see them 10 minutes early, ready to work right on the hour, those dreams are for the past. Nowadays getting someone on time, even if they are starting their work 10 minutes after the hour, is a success.

With these new employees, I did not just tell them what I wanted, I also wrote it, reminded them and sent some cheeky comments to ensure they knew they were wanted. Giving them enough information so they can follow through is one thing, however being a boss they don’t want to let down is another. Are you doing the tangible and intangible activities that get people managing themselves?

Over the years, let me be the first to say, I have definitely grown. I have learned that yelling doesn’t work, shaming just makes people cry and ignoring fuels failure. I have taken the long road and built infrastructure in both systems and management that ensures I have done my part, tangibly. But, it wasn’t until I embraced the intangible that I learned people can truly manage themselves.

Lets first confirm you know what I mean by tangible. For many of you that have read The EMyth Revisited, you know that has to do with developing a strategy for what positions and work you need done. It means documenting those positions for clear reference and teaching someone how to do something through verbal training and written documentation. It is supported by someone ensuring every system works, no mistakes are made and if so, why. It means watching the work through a series of calculated touch ins, meetings, training and reviews. It is everything you do.

So, intangible then is how you do it. For employees to have the utmost loyalty to doing things right, that even if they can’t, they go figure out how. They see the mistakes as well as the successes and self manage. There is no fear to ask how to do something when forgotten, because it is so rare, it is welcomed. Asking is an open invitation and feedback is welcomed.

Where Doing It, Is More Important Than Not

When you create an environment that doing the job is more important than not, you will create an employee who can manage their own accountability. This starts by finding the right employees for your positions, needs and company. If an employee is aligned with your culture and values, they will then have the drive to always strive for doing their job. They might not get it right all the time, but that is not the point. The point is they strive for doing it, they ask questions to confirm they know it and they want to do it, because that is whom they are. They can’t settle for anything less. Are you company values and cultures clearly defined? Are you using them when making hiring decisions?


Because Care Is There

If you don’t care, they won’t care and then no one cares. When no one cares, is when the problems happen. I am not saying that I love every employee as I do my own family, but I do care about their well being. I care they are healthy and happy. I show humanity to my fellow humans and you know what? They notice. They notice someone cares about them and they start caring about me…well, at least about their positions and expectations, which is what I want most. Back them up when dealing with asshole clients and customers, show some interest in their significant others and make time for them. Do you have empathy for your fellow team?


Reputation Matters

When an employee feels mattered, they dress, to impress. You know what I mean? When a leader finally creates enough space and time to be with there employees, those employees feel it. The employee feels heard, seen and cared for and they will do just about anything for that leader who is acknowledging them. Their loyalty soars, because their reputation finally matters. They finally have someone they want to, dare I say, impress. Remembering expectations, following directions and doing what is necessary to get the job done doesn’t just start happening, it happens well. Show some transparency and give them feedback about whom they are and how well they are doing..or not. Honesty goes a long way. Do create space to have transparent conversations with your employees?





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