Want better employees? Be a good boss.

By Jen Poessnecker

What do a bartender, a bank teller, and a community educator have in common? No, that’s not an opening line of a joke that will make you groan and roll your eyes; it’s a serious question I asked myself while reflecting on my career path and what brought me to my current juncture. So, what’s the answer? I absolutely loved each one of these jobs and, as it turns out, it was largely because of my supervisor.

There are countless articles, blogs, and resources on motivating and engaging employees. Instead of looking at what motivates employees from the supervisor’s perspective, I challenge you to look at what motivates employees from their own perspectives. This is where my reflection comes in. I am very fortunate and happy to share the amazing things my supervisors did to make me understand that I was a valued member of their team.

They heard what I had to say
Even when my ideas (yes, I admit, some or most may have been a little out of left field) were not implemented, I felt heard. Being asked for my opinion and being part of the conversation made me understand that it truly was a team effort and we are all in it together. I gained a better understanding of what my supervisors expected from me, what was expected of them, and the direction of the team and organization. Just by being included, the big picture became clearer.

I was not micromanaged
Part of not being micromanaged meant that I didn’t always do things as my supervisor would have done them, or sometimes even the way they maybe preferred. I was expected to complete the assigned task, but how I completed it was not as important as the end result. Either I learned what not to do or my team was introduced to another way to accomplish the same goal. Yes, I was allowed to fail and sometimes I did. But, I was also expected to fix any errors, which meant they were no longer failures. This set me and my team up for even greater success than if we had been stifled by weak leadership and low expectations. I was held accountable. I was trusted.

My work made a difference to other people
It still does. This is something that has been deeply engrained in my work ethic. What I do is so much bigger than me and it always has been. Understanding the purpose behind the job I was doing and how each and every interaction, word, and expression can positively or negatively impact others changed everything. I became determined and empowered.

Maybe some of those left field ideas are just what your team needs. What are your employees telling you? How do they see you putting things into action? Are you including them and do they understand the big picture?

Do you trust your employees? How do they know?

Do you believe that what you and your staff do makes a difference to other people? If so, how are you communicating this to them? How are you empowering your employees to make a difference?

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