Congratulations! You’re now at the point on your journey where you can start filling your empty room with employees, your prime asset. We discussed this topic in-depth in our previous article; please read it so that you have an understanding of how to hire the ideal employee. In this article, we’re going to dissect how to manage your staff. Welcome to your guide to effective employee management.

What is employee management?

Employee management is a position of leadership that requires a balance between interpersonal (emotional) skills as well as the ability to objectively quantify employees’ contribution to the goals of the business. It’s a topic that needs to be looked at from a holistic perspective. Here’s snippet of three fundamental aspects of employee management:

Measurement and monitoring

During the interview process/processes, the requirements of the job role need to be explained so that the employee fully understands what is expected of him/her – these requirements are known as key performance indicators (KPIs). It’s a legal requirement for you to compile a formal job offer in the form of an official contract. The KPIs should be stated in an appendix in his/her contract. However, it’s just as important that as his/her manager, you have a meticulous understanding of the KPIs that you are obligated to perform for your employees. Once employment commences, you’ll need to actively monitor and measure whether your employee is meeting his/her KPIs. It’s an essential managerial duty because failure to do so can have a detrimental effect on the financial wellbeing of the business.  

Open, honest communication

Effective communication between you and your employees is crucial for business success. At the most basic level, the workplace should have an inherent, unique culture or ‘personality’ that resonates with them, making them enjoy working there – we’ll discuss this in more detail later in the article.

Tips for better communication include:

  1. Actively listening to your employees
  2. Scheduling one-on-one meetings
  3. Scheduling group meetings
  4. Understand unspoken signals – e.g., negative body language; overall apathy
  5. Recognising and appreciating employees’ work

Part of being a manager, whether you’re comfortable with it or not, is to implement disciplinary actions against employees if he/she contravening company policies and procedures . It’s imperative that you’re able to take on this responsibility and deal with it in the correct manner. If you don’t have experience in this aspect of management, consider taking a management course – a reputable HR company will be able to assist you.

What are the traits of a successful manager?

The position of ‘manager’ shouldn’t be taken lightly. You have intellect and authority that forms a significant part of the backbone of the business. You have to be a leader. Particularly, if you are building a start-up, it’s important to learn and/or refine the traits of a manger who is a role model to which employees can aspire – this is a significant drving factor towards the business’s sustainability and brand reputation. 

Take a bit of time and etch the following traits into your mind so that they can be comprehended and actioned proficiently.

  • The ‘halo effect’

Leaders who have the ‘halo effect’ exude a charisma and self-confidence to which others are drawn. An article published in SUCCESS comments, ‘They are perceived by others to be leaders who are capable of great things. Their shortcomings are often overlooked, while their strong points are emphasised.

  • Transparency

Hidden agendas can severely hinder the productivity of a business. In the spirit of reinforcing a positive working culture, be completely open with your employees with regards to any information that has the potential to affect their jobs.

  • Effective communicator

Even though this has already been mentioned, it needs to be reiterated because it forms an integral part of the business. A leader knows exactly when to talk and when to listen. Be succinct and clear when communicating information to your staff. It’s imperative that you can articulate everything from high-level organisational goals and operations to specific tasks.

Serial entrepreneur and marketer, Deep Patel reiterates this in an article published by Forbes, ‘you need to be able to communicate on all levels: one on one, to the department and to the entire staff, as well as via phone, email and social media. Communication is built on a steady flow of verbal and nonverbal exchanges of ideas and information, so work on being approachable and involving people from different levels.’

  • Setting achievable goals

What is the purpose of your business? What do you want to achieve for the business as a whole as well as for yourself and employees? If you can’t definitively answer these questions, sit down in a quiet place and set aside some time for introspection to find your why.

Knowing your why

Start off by watching this video presented by acclaimed author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek,  entitled, ‘How great leaders inspire action’. After watching this 18-minute masterpiece, you’ll have a refreshed mindset and know exactly why your business exists. Please watch this video before continuing to read.

The video can be boiled down to the following powerful statement: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’    

Can you feel your vision flowing through your veins? Have you found your why? Fantastic! Now, it’s time to translate it into achievable goals that you wish to accomplish. Remember, that a shotgun approach isn’t going to work; it’s going to take time if you want your goals to be sustainable – they are the lifeblood of your business.

These goals may not always work out as you initially planned, but it’s the job of a successful leader to keep persevering through tough times. Never throw in the towel.

The popular mnemonic below outlines five bases that should be covered when communicating high-level goals to individual tasks. Remember to keep your objectives SMART:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable 
R – Relevant
T – Time-based

1. Have a vision for the future

An exceptional leader has the ability to see the big picture; a clear vision of where the company should be in  future. They are self-assured, optimistic and inspire passion. Furthermore, you need to be able to tackle and manage change within your industry. In today’s fast-paced dynamic workplace, a business has to find a balance between stability and growth. Your long-term vision should be compiled into various strategies, but at the same time, be flexible enough to account for potential change no matter how big or small. 

2. Accountability and responsibility

There is a fine line between abusing and/or using a position of power correctly; for many people, authority can become an aphrodisiac that can severely tarnish relationships with employees and in turn, brand reputation. A leader is strong enough to accept responsibility and take ownership without making any excuses or taking passing the buck to an employee who has to carry the burden.

Patel comments that, ‘They appreciate the importance of supporting and encouraging individuality while also understanding organizational structures and the need to follow rules and policies. They are able to balance different perspectives while taking appropriate action.’

3. Create lasting employee relationships

Great leaders have the ability to motivate their employees to do their best to contribute to the company’s goals. Employees who feel valued and appreciated, who feel like what they do makes a difference, will feel engerised to push harder to achieve success personally and professionally. In conjunction, they also need to be willing to take risks and encourage innovative creativity. 

How do I foster growth, trust and loyalty from your employees?

A business that promotes growth, trust and loyalty are the most successful because their prized asset, employees, feel valued, able to trust their manager and exude an overall happiness. Here are two ways to assist you in this endeavour.

Effective listening

Importance of non-verbal communication

Body language such as posture, facial expressions and overall attitude towards the subject or the speaker themselves can speak volumes. Here are a few examples of negative body language that can damage with your employees.

  • Looking at your watch: Looking at your watch constantly signals that you are not interested in the conversation. If you are on a tight deadline rather ask if you can reschedule the meeting.
  • Not making eye contact: By looking down or refusing at to make eye contact with your employee is not only rude, it indicates that you are not taking their issue seriously and are completely disinterested.
  • Fake smile: It’s very easy for an employee detect a fake smile. A true smile incorporates the entire face including the eyes. It’s known as the Duchene smile
  • Tapping: This is similar to looking at your watch. It’s an indication that have no interest in the conversation; it also signifies impatience.

Don’t do any of the above action because your employee will feel disrespected and degraded; their trust in you is lost.

Understand the underlying feelings:

There may be numerous underlying causes that has led to this conversation. Don’t interrupt them; let them express their feelings/opinion. Listen to the actual words they’re using. Recognise your preconceptions: No matter what your feelings towards the speaker may be, they are still your employee and you have obligations to them, if you are unsure about what the speaker means, ask for clarification instead of making assumptions.

Allow employees to grow personally and professionally

There is absolutely no substitute for ongoing employee development. Today, with the possibilities of working remotely – or from anywhere in the world for that matter – the average job longevity for an employee is approximately two years. They are continually searching for new, exciting opportunities, and they will find them. So, as a manager, you need to action a strategy to give employees the prospect to upskill. The benefits of paying for employees to attend training courses include

Preventing boredom: “For those of us who aspire to be original, predictability can be the worst kind of banality.” – James Spader, as Alan Shore, in the television series, Boston Legal.

The traditional ‘go into the office, perform your tasks, and go home should be scrapped from your business model. The chance for job advancement and ongoing career development is vital to forge employee loyalty. 

Increase Productivity and Satisfaction:

Employees will naturally become more inspired, productive and satisfied with their job if they are offered support. By adding ongoing development opportunities with an employer’s support, the business has the potential to grow significantly. The employees’ fulfilment may even spark them to develop key leadership traits such as self-awareness and process management – this is fantastic for employee career advancement and the business as a whole. Make sure that you are always actively seeking new ways to improve employee job satisfaction.

Attract and Retain Talent:

As mentioned earlier, more job seekers are joining the gig economy, so you need to offer existing and prospective talent opportunities that would be difficult to find somewhere else. 

In this case, an employer needs to remember the fundamental fact that employees are your most important asset and therefore you need to invest in them. Potential candidates want to know that their investment (time and expertise) in your business provides them with favourable returns. 

Looking after your employees’ financial wellbeing can be another motivating factor to attract top talent. Consider consulting an independent financial adviser; he/she can help determine which products will suit your business – a provident fund/umbrella fund and medical aid will usually be recommended. 

How do I manage policies and procedures successfully?

Professionally written policies and procedures allow you and your employees to know the “official” ways about  how everyone should go about their tasks and, in turn, work as a cohesive unit. As a manager, you need to see these documents as a permanent part of the foundation of the room developing. It’s very likely that policies and procedures will need to be updated as the business progresses, but the fundamental aspects will remain the same.  

Furthermore, it decreases the need for intervention, allowing your business to function more efficiently, and consequently, increases the potential revenue growth. This creates a stable working environment. A copy of your company’s policies and procedures should be available for all employees to view in the form of a booklet or a downloadable PDF.

Ironically, well-written policies and procedures should actually serve to minimise the intensity of hands-on management.

Our HR experts will work directly with you to compile these in a way that is easy to understand and implement accurately, ensuring your business achieves its short, medium and long-term goals.

How do I create a safe, productive and fun working environment?

There are various aspects that you can promote and implement – but, remember that it all starts with you; be the role model.

Studies have shown that employees who enjoy their job are far more likely to have a deeper engagement with their work and are therefore more productive. As a manager, it’s part of your job to ensure you have happy, healthy employees in the workplace. 

Here are a few ways to create a safe, productive and fun working environment.

  • Team building events: Group activities allow all staff members to bond in a casual environment, making it a perfect way to engage with them on a personal level; the more you learn about someone, the more comfortable you are with them. It will improve communication and enhance the teamwork ethic.   
  • Engage and learn about your employees through one-on-one conversation: Make a concerted effort to connect with your employees in person. By doing this, you’re establishing yourself as a manager that cares, which, in turn, provides unparalleled motivation.
  • Have a bit of fun during the day: Everyone needs a bit of downtime during the day; the demands of daily business operations can become overwhelming. So, take a few short breaks during the day to completely unplug and chat about topics that don’t have anything to do with work. Throw in a few jokes as well because laughing releases dopamine (the feel-good hormone) which will help everyone relax and feel refreshed when they get back to work.
  • Clean and comfortable workspace: The physical workspace should align with the culture you want to create. Dirty desks, uncomfortable chairs, sub-par equipment and a general blandness cannot foster good relationships and encourage creativity and productivity. Spruce up the workspace with different elements that reflect your brand’s culture/image that you want to project to customers.
  • Occupational health and safety measures: Did you know that If you have 20+ staff, the correct health and safety measures need to be in place. Occupational health and safety is designed to ensure a company has the knowledge and means to prevent injuries and hazards in the workplace. Are you unsure if your business meets health and safety regulations? An HR audit performed by a professional company is the best option. Based on the audit, you’ll be advised on the necessary steps to take to meet the required standard.

Creating a safe, fun and productive working environment is the epicentre of your business. As such, it needs to have a symbiotic relationship with all employees. In return, your company will reap the rewards of having a team that works cohesively, produces world-class work and enjoy every day they spend in the workplace.

How to I resolve employee conflicts?

Should conflicts arise in your business, it’s critical that as a manager, you are able to handle them properly and professionally. It’s in your best interests to see conflict through a lens of positivity. If you dealt with correctly, it can ‘clear the air’ of any unaddressed, simmering issues which can be resolved.  Clear and open communication is the cornerstone of successful conflict resolution. Please take some time to read the following tips you can use to resolve conflicts.

  • Recognise that there is a situation: Doing everything that you can to avoid conflict is the worst tactic you could employ. It’s imperative to understand that open communication is part of the resolution process. 
  • Let each party have his/her say: Conflict is usually accompanied by anger and other emotions. Let the parties express their feelings, and acknowledge them, before you discuss different ways to put a problem-solving process into place.
  • Dealing with an employees’ anger:  This can be a difficult emotion to deal with depending on different personalities, but this is where your communication skills, particularly effective listening, need to be used to calm the situation. Be cognisant of the following and allow the person to know that he/she knows that he/she is being heard, understood and that you’re empathetic to him/her – positive body language will go a long way to achieve these goals.
  • Define the issue: Establish and understand the problem as accurately as possible. This will help you determine the potentially damaging impact that it may have on relationships within the team and the business as a whole. 
  • Determine the appropriate action(s): Once you’ve determined and implemented the necessary actions (these should be stipulated in the employment contract); make sure that you monitor the situation: follow-up meetings with the parties to find out how/if they are working cohesively.