5 tips to become a better manager for your employees

November 26, 2020

In Management & Organizational Performance

conseils pour devenir un meilleur gestionnaire pour ses employés

When we think of leadership, we often imagine the stereotype of an army general, with an authoritative voice, decisive wit and charismatic aura. Perhaps you’re thinking of Gordon Gekko from “Wall Street” or Miranda Priestley in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Has Hollywood really portrayed leadership accurately, or have the characters led us to make assumptions without any real foundation? To find out, it’s essential to explore in depth the qualities that make managers exceptional leaders, capable of maximizing the commitment and loyalty of their teams.


1. Foster Kindness to Build Trust, Loyalty and Reduce Stress at Work

Kind manager with employee

Studies have shown that leaders perceived as “nice” perform better as managers. Why? Because of the trust that kindness inspires in employees. From a biological point of view, this makes perfect sense. Our brains and bodies are constantly on the alert for threats. Whether faced with a hungry lion or a disgruntled boss, our physical reaction is identical: stress is triggered, and we enter “fight or flight” mode. Faced with an authoritarian or oppressive boss, the “fight or flight” instinct naturally kicks in. The employee may then feel the urge to fight back with courage, sometimes leading to conflict, or choose to withdraw to preserve his or her well-being, even going so far as to leave the company.

On the contrary, when an employee deals with a nice person who behaves kindly, reactivity to stress is considerably reduced, helping to develop loyalty and appreciation. So, being a kind boss not only increases your social status, but also helps to alleviate employee stress levels. It’s a win-win situation!

How to Become a More Compassionate Leader?

Work on your emotional skills: Specifically, your employee recognition skills. Saying thank you in different ways is often overlooked, but so important to employee engagement and well-being. You can participate in the Orange Program to learn how to become a recognition expert and get concrete ideas that will make a difference for your team.

Set an example and demonstrate modern citizen behavior: if you’re having coffee with your team, pay for the next person in line too. If you notice an employee struggling to meet a deadline, offer to stay and help them finish with him or her. These small gestures of kindness will be noticed and help reinforce your leadership.

Tip: It’s possible to be too nice. Make sure you act with authenticity and use strategies to prevent others from taking advantage of you. The right balance is the key.


2. Put Integrity at the Heart of Your Management Strategy


According to a study by Robert Half Management Resources, 75% of workers cited integrity as one of the most essential leadership traits. To have integrity, you’ll need to be fair and honest, give credit where credit is due, take responsibility for your mistakes, have difficult but necessary conversations, and be able to act at a moment’s notice – even though it may be uncomfortable or unpopular.

How do You Put Integrity Into Practice?

1.Give and seek honest feedback: the authenticity with which you provide and receive feedback is a building block of integrity.

2.When giving feedback to an employee: make sure you start with noble intent. Frame the conversation, share specific observations and be alert to their effects on the employee. Exercise caution and, if necessary, discuss realistic alternatives and solutions to resolve conflicts/problems.

3.When you receive feedback: Two-way feedback is an essential element in building a trusting employer-employee relationship. Ask your employees, your manager and your network how they perceive you, and ask yourself how you can improve. Stay open and ask questions. This act of vulnerability and openness not only increases your self-awareness, it also opens the door to others to do the same.

4.Admit your mistakes: it’s likely that you have high expectations of yourself in your management role. To earn the respect of your team, you may even intend to develop your skills to prove that you deserve the job. But remember: if you’ve been chosen for this role, it’s for a good reason… And like your employees, you’re human too.

And that means you’re bound to make mistakes. So take off your armor. Use failures as a chance to recognize and model responsibility. See them as learning opportunities that will enable you to grow in your role. By admitting you’ve been wrong, or laughing at yourself, you show others that they can do the same. When people know that “failing” isn’t the end of the world, they’re more likely to come up with new ideas and pave the way for innovation.


3.Learn to Know Your Employees for Personalized Leadership

Manager getting to know her employee for a personalized management


Imagine you lead your company’s sales team. Your employees may have a lot in common – perhaps they all enjoy human interaction and the exhilaration of winning a new customer. It’s easy to assume that members of the same team need the same things. After all, they’re all doing the same job, right? Well, not exactly. Your employees will all have different personalities, family situations and needs. You’ll need to understand them and adapt your management style to meet their needs. We’re not saying you should lose your personality and flavor in the process. The idea is rather to make minor adjustments in your approach and communication to be better understood and appreciated by all your employees.

How to be an Effective Leader for Everyone

1. Personality tests

One way to get to know your employees is to give them a personality test. At Altrum, we use the Predictive Index (PI index), however, there are many simple and free options such as the 16-personality test. Find out which test would be most beneficial for you. This will help you better understand your team members and give you additional tools to adapt to each one.

These tests will not only enable you to learn more about your team members’ personalities, but also to discover their preferred learning styles. This will enable you to adapt your coaching style to the individual’s preferences. Visual learner? Turn on your webcam and share the screen if you’re explaining something via Zoom. If the person learns by doing? Set up a test environment where they can try out the functionality of a new tool. Make sure you offer different learning methods to your employees – organizing a meeting with a PowerPoint presentation as support may only work for a fraction of your team.

2.Ask questions

It’s crucial for managers to ask their employees questions on a regular basis to get to know them better and adapt to their needs. By asking questions about their preferences, motivations and career goals, managers can create a more inclusive and productive work environment. By understanding their employees’ expectations and aspirations, managers can adjust their management style to better support and guide them. Asking questions regularly also shows employees that their opinions are valued and that they are being listened to, which builds trust and collaboration within the team. This will help you build stronger relationships and achieve better results.

Managing well is about empowering your employees rather than controlling them… It’s about constantly assessing your environment and adapting to it so that each employee’s unique contributions, needs and styles can emerge. Your success as a manager will greatly depend on your ability to do this.


4.Celebrate Victories and Recognize Contributions

An employee being celebrated by her employer

Big or small achievements, you’ll find that integrating recognition and celebration into your management practices will make a big difference to your team, and to your organization. Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, has discovered through her research that “small victories can give people a huge emotional boost [to employees], increase their level of intrinsic motivation [for their work] and lead to creativity.” Celebrating small victories = an emotional boost + increased motivation + increased creativity. A 3-in-1 you can and should exploit!

How to be a Good Leader who Fosters Celebration and Recognition:

Use a social recognition platform: Modern offices take many forms. With remote working, the use of shared office space, the adoption of hybrid formulas, and the introduction of numerous exceptions aimed at improving employees’ work-life balance, a web-based tool is the way forward for encouraging peer-to-peer recognition. A social recognition software like Celebration’s lets your team recognize, comment on and like the recognition given to others.

Use rewards to celebrate: You don’t need to buy a bottle of champagne for every goal you reach. Rewards can be cheap and very effective! At Altrum, we do it via the Celebration Peer Recognition Software. Managers have the power to award points to recognize good work or outstanding results. These points accumulate, and eventually the employee has enough to claim a gift or gift card! This system gives managers great flexibility and autonomy to carry out spontaneous recognition, which is appreciated by employees.

Communicating within your company is easy: When your team does something well, make it visible! Send an e-mail to everyone, post it on your reception bulletin board, write a note on your peer recognition platform, publish it in your internal newsletter, mention it at team meetings… the options are endless! The goal is to recognize the people who make things happen for your company.

Warning: make sure the people you recognize like to receive public recognition. Some of your employees may prefer to keep the celebration low-key.


5. Cultivate Leadership in Your Team Through Coaching

A manager coaching her employee

When you and your team have a long list of responsibilities and little time to complete them, it’s tempting to take the quickest route and give strict directives to get them done. “Marie, call the customer and tell them X, Y and Z!” “Philippe, do A because B and C won’t work!” Boom, problems solved.

But for how long? While there will certainly be times when it’s necessary to intervene and give orders, most of the time, it’s better to equip your team to help them improve and perform. In this way, your employees will take ownership of their work and be more invested in their responsibilities.

A Good Leader is an Excellent Coach:

1. Assess the situation

In the book Co-Active Coaching, the authors advise managers to take the time to answer three questions when an employee comes to you with a problem or challenge:

—What will best serve the employee – now and in the future?

—What is there to learn here?

—What needs to be fixed?

The answers you receive will guide your approach to the situation. Consider the development of the employee or team and think about how your response will affect their ability to perform their tasks. Trust your instincts while being aware of your default tendencies.

2. Guiding decision-making

Helping your employees make informed decisions: coaching is about helping people recognize the choices they have in front of them. By doing this for those you lead, you not only shed light on blind spots, but also help develop critical thinking skills. Ask questions, offer new perspectives, suggest options, and empower the employee to choose the best course of action. They’ll be more likely to take ownership of the work when they play a role in determining the course of action.

3. Reverse the roles

Ask the employee to teach you! What have they done in the past—perhaps in a previous role—that would work for this situation? Unlock the knowledge and experience that already exists and leverage it to improve the current situation. By doing so, you help those you lead to trust themselves and make more confident decisions.

As the saying goes: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This approach not only strengthens the skills and commitment of your team, but also enables you to develop new leaders.

The Qualities of a Good Leader

In her book Dare to Lead, Brené Brown defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential.” Good leaders can have a significant impact not just on their team, but on the entire organization. When an entire company reaches its potential, imagine what’s possible.

The Author

Annie Breton,CRP

Senior Account Executive, Recognition Solutions

Armed with a marketing degree, Annie became part of the Altrum team three decades ago, progressing through various roles throughout the years. Her ability to connect with people, her passion for her work and her authenticity led her to specialize in recognition solutions over the past decade. Annie is recognized for her in-depth expertise in best practices and her proactivity in meeting customer requirements.


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