Over the past few weeks we have been writing a series of articles on employee management and the role of employee and manager self-service in making employees feel empowered and engaged. Certainly giving employees the right tools to make them feel more in control of their work life is important but technology is only a part of it. The employee-manager relationship is key.
Ultimately, the role of the manager is to translate the overall goals and strategies of the organization into tactics and assignments for employees. A manager must marry the work that needs to get done with the employee’s personal goals and aspirations. Communicating the goal of the organization and making it relatable to employees is a challenge. Keeping your eye on the big picture while overseeing a myriad of projects and employees (all with different motivations), is not easy. Understanding how people work and the larger market challenges in your particular industry takes time and grows with your operational experience. The underlying objective of managers has not really changed throughout the years. What has changed is how employees work and the amount of information available to them through technology at any time of the day.
Gone are the days of command and control when work environments could be tightly controlled and monitored. Everyone was in the same physical location and what technology they interacted with during their workday was uniform. Today, even if organizations take the step of blocking social media sites on company computers, information is still streaming in on employees’ smart devices. Today employees have better personal systems in place than many of the enterprise systems and tools that they are provided with at work. And work teams may be distributed and many employees work remotely at least part of the time.
So how can a manager cut through all this noise and communicate how an employee’s individual input is contributing to company goals and shaping the organization.
We can provide tools such as employee portals to help with the communication process, but for managers and employees to be successful, an investment needs to be made in building the trust relationship between them. This trust relationship takes time and you cannot substitute a technical tool in for the personal contact needed to build this relationship.
If a manager invests time into that trust relationship, they are in a much better position to recognize the individual contributions of employees but they will also notice how the employees’ skills and interests change over time. The manager can then re-deploy resources to get the best work from their employees while meeting the employee’s individual goals. Working together to meet both organizational and personal goals is what bonds an employee to the organization and keeps them engaged.
When an employee is engaged, accountability increases. As I have written about before, I feel accountability is crucial for an organization to be successful. Accountability grows when you have that trust relationship between a manager and an employee. Everyone knows what is expected of them and what they will be evaluated on. Managers need to know who owns the work and the processes and rely on those resources to alert them to issues. And once an employee takes ownership of the work or the process, they will be motivated to improve upon it.
We can connect with someone online or become a ‘friend’ with them on Facebook but we know that in most cases, these are superficial relationships with no deep level of trust. We can use an app or push a button to do many things in our day-to-day lives but there is no technical substitute to building a strong trust relationship. And investing into those relationships will have a big returns both professionally and personally.
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About the Author:
Marnie Larson is the CEO of StarGarden Corporation and oversees its operations in Canada, US and New Zealand. She has over 20 years’ experience in the software industry and specializes in HCM, Business process automation and Workflow technology.
Follow Marnie on Twitter: @mblarson