Which members of your team do you spend most of your time with?

For many managers, the natural thing to do is to delegate tasks to the best people and let them get on with the job.  The perceived wisdom is that this frees up time to spend more time with the poorer performers who need the most help and support. This might seem to be the obvious approach, but it can also be the wrong thing to do.

Often the only time a manger realises there is something wrong is when one of their best people comes in with their resignation and says that they have accepted a senior role with another company. We get to hear many reasons from employees about why they want to resign from their current job. Most often they tell us that they liked working at their present company but never felt appreciated or involved. They will say that they were left to get on with their job, seldom told they were valued and never asked their opinions about decisions being made about their department.

Encourage people doing the right things

Some managers think their job is to be on the lookout for employees making mistakes. In reality, business performance improves when you catch people doing the right things and praise them for it.

It’s no secret that genuine praise makes people feel good. Pride, pleasure and increased feelings of self-esteem are all common reactions to being paid a compliment or receiving positive feedback. This is because being praised triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. As well as making us feel good, dopamine can also contribute to innovative thinking and creative problem-solving at work.

These positive effects, however, are relatively short-lived, and for praise to have an enduring impact on employee engagement, it needs to be offered regularly.

Freedom and involvement

Top performers do want the freedom to get on with their job and definitely don’t want to be micro-managed; but that doesn’t mean they should be taken for granted or ignored.

Do delegate responsibility to your best people and give them the freedom to accomplish their tasks, but don’t ignore them.  Meet them one to one regularly to discuss progress, their ideas, their issues and their plans, and help them to overcome any difficulties that get in the way of them from achieving even more.  Share some of the bigger business or departmental challenges with them and ask their opinions.

Deal with under performers effectively

You do have to spend time with the junior members and weaker performers in your team.  They need coaching and support, but don’t let this get out of balance.  Devote time and support to a poor performer, agree on an improvement plan with them, and monitor their progress.  Discuss the plan and their performance with your line manager and / or HR manager, and if they fail to improve or consistently under perform, then they should go.  No manager can afford to have consistent under performers draining their time and pulling down the team’s performance.

Aim for a balanced approach.  Spend time with every member of the team, get to know their interests, frustrations, ambitions and job-related issues.  A good manager understands their team both as a group and as individuals.  Every employee has different motivations, likes, dislikes, hopes and fears, and as a manager, you should know what motivates every person in your office.  Why do they come to work?  Every individual wants to be listened to and appreciated.

Praise and encouragement are great for weaker staff when they make improvements, but they are also important for the top performers who can often say they feel taken for granted and unappreciated.  Make sure that your best people know how much you value them.

The team at First Base can help you to recruit and retain great people. If you would like to know more about why candidates and employers tell us that First Base is their first choice call 01453 755330 or email tricia.hay@first-base.co.uk