Leaders that manage employees have a very tough job on their hand. They have to wear multiple hats and are usually the one that is primarily responsible for a team’s success or failure. Leaders have a lot of power and influence (both formal and informal) and must use this to accomplish an organization’s mission. For any person in a leadership position, they have four main areas where they must spend their time and energy on their employees in order to foster an environment where success can occur. These four areas are called the four E’s of leadership and are explained in detail below.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” – Bill Hybels
Equip Your Employees
Leaders have the responsibility of equipping their employees so that they can be successful and do their job safely and efficiently. What do your employees need to do their job? If you don’t know the answer then you should probably ask them. If equipment is provided to the job, not only will productivity suffer, but morale will suffer as well. Employees will perceive the lack of investment in equipment, tools, and supplies as a sign that they aren’t important to management. Leaders may not have an unlimited budget, however, they can show that they care for their employees easily by making sure that they are properly equipped.
When equipping your employees it is vitally important to engage them in a conversation about what they really need to succeed. For example, if they desire a specific brand or style of product, then you should probably invest in that instead of getting the cheapest thing that you could find in the equipment supply catalog.
Empower Your Employees
One of the most frustrating things that can happen to a working is having to get a job done but not having the authority to do so. Leaders must empower their employees to make decisions. All decisions should be made at the lowest logical level. You must learn to trust your employees and allow them to have the authority to get their jobs done efficiently and effectively. Besides, as a leader do you really want to be “in the weeds” on every issue in the office or on the factory floor? This is a waste of your time and has the effect of showing your employees that you don’t trust them. Therefore, make an intentional effort to show downward trust by empowering people to take ownership of their jobs, their projects, and their results.
When I hire a new employee I tend to place as much trust in them as I can in the beginning. I will work with them as much as is needed to ensure that they fully understand their job duties, their level of authority, and the parameters for which they must work under. I also keep an open door policy which encourages people to come and ask questions whenever they need answers. No employee ever starts a new job with a desire to fail or make mistakes; this perspective helps to make trusting new employees a bit easier for managers.
Enable Your Employees
Leaders have the responsibility to enable their employees. This goes beyond just equipping them with tools and giving them authority. Enabling employees to succeed means clearing a path for their success by removing the barriers that exist in the workplace. In this area, leaders should focus on the processes and daily operations that slow down productivity and hinder people’s ability to get the job done. Conduct and efficiency audit and look for anything that could be changed to expedite the process without comprising quality or safety.
For years my workgroup used an 18-page form to get information from customers. This form was cumbersome and intimated a lot of customers. As you can imagine, getting people to fill the form out properly was a daily challenge and it frustrated my employees as well as the customers. We decided to tackle this problem and set a goal to create a simple 1-page form instead. After a few weeks of hard work, we were able to make the necessary changes. This enabled my employees to spend less time dealing with paperwork and more time doing their actual job.
Enabling employees to succeed also includes helping to prepare them for promotional opportunities as well. No one wants to remain at a dead-end job. Employees will be happier if they are being groomed to move up in the ranks. Clearing a path for promoting employees will enable to grow, learn, and advance in their careers.
Another job of a leader is to be the one who encourages the team to succeed. In fact, it’s likely that a lot of your time managing people will be spent on encouraging them. All employees will need encouragement at one time or another. This requires you to be a listening ear and to offer support, praise and coaching when necessary. Be sure remain positive in all your talks with employees and seek to share the organization’s vision whenever possible. Positive reinforcement will always help to improve relationships, improve trust, and encourage desirable behaviors.
Find out what motivates your employees and seek ways to encourage their success by catering to these things. Some people are motivated by money however many people are not. Others are looking for recognition, fun in the workplace, or to have power and authority to do new and innovative things. As a leader, you can develop a system where people are rewarded for achieving success. A properly designed rewards and recognition system can do amazing things to encourage workers to be productive and to get the job done efficiently.