A strong workplace management strategy is essential to creating an efficient, low-stress work environment. This is a common issue for growing businesses, which can have the necessity of a management strategy creep up on them.
The good news is that if you’re managing a workplace and begin to realize management is less efficient than you’d hope for, there are known actionable strategies you can try to correct course.
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Efficiency is Different Than Micromanaging
Good workplace management and busy workplace management are two different things. A manager can be busy and still waste much of their time and the time of other people.
For instance, a manager shouldn’t do what can be streamlined with software. Business software solutions like Office Control can make scheduling, and mass messaging much easier than in the past and let managers focus on more important tasks.
Moreover, a manager’s job is to make sure a project (or projects) are completed, not to complete those projects themselves. A big mistake many managers make is micromanaging employees who are often more trained and skilled at the given task than the manager.
Some managers also get into the belief that meetings and other get-togethers are de facto productive. While they can be, many meetings are aimless and can give the illusion of progress without major change occurring.
To a manager, efficiency should be the goal. Is the project team working in a way that will produce the optimal end product on schedule (or sooner)? Then they are doing their job; racing around doesn’t mean they are always working better than a more hands-off manager.
Burnout is the Enemy
When discussing team efficiency, employee burnout is often ignored. It is easy to assume employees will always be productive and, if they fail to produce, it is an issue with the employee rather than management.
Unfortunately, it’s this thinking that loses many companies their best talent. Morale and employee energy levels are arguably as important a factor in long-term success as things like sales numbers and product output.
Assuming an employee makes a genuine effort to do their job (and most do), it helps to think of their working for you as training. The longer someone works for your company, the better they tend to be at their job.
For this reason alone, it makes sense to try and retain talent. It definitely makes sense to retain exceptional individuals who are able to wow management or rally their peers to their finish line.
Moreover, the worse employees feel physically and emotionally, the more work suffers. Companies with burnout problems do worse financially, struggling with turnover, poor productivity, and high healthcare costs.
Reward Success Not Volume
It is very easy for higher-ups to reward those employees in a company who are most charismatic and assertive. Indeed, many of these employees are go-getters and may deserve promotions.
However, a strong workplace management strategy rewards success, not how well an employee can catch your eye and ear. This is what encourages real growth; managers understand that good work will be noticed even if they are more introverted than their peers.
This also means those in charge of promotions need to keep a careful eye out for stolen credit. If the wrong person is rewarded for a job or a critical team member doesn’t get acknowledged for going above and beyond, it will hurt morale and discourage good work.
In this section title, we mention “volume”, and what’s interesting is it’s a good word to use in both contexts. How loud an employee is shouldn’t matter much, but neither should the sheer amount of work they put out.
If a manager is hitting deadlines and able to juggle many projects at once, at first, it may seem like they are doing good. However, if those under them are burning out or the final results are bad, their volume may be negative rather than positive.
Automation is the Future
We’ll talk more generally about evolution later, but, as a rule, businesses should be on the lookout for tasks to automate or otherwise streamline.
If there is a new technological solution that can make it easier for employees to communicate or schedule tasks, you should likely embrace it. The fewer people have to wait around, the more efficient the office is.
In business, time is money. While scheduling, information delay, paperwork, and more are the realities of doing business, there is almost always a way to do fewer of those things while achieving the same or better results.
Managed services for things like IT and scheduling mean your own employees can do other things. With the extra time, employees will complete projects faster or put more polish on critical parts of a given project.
There aren’t many downsides to automating and streamlining either. Both tend to reduce a team’s rate of error and cut down on the “busy work” of projects that are important but require little skill to actually do.
Evolution Over Tradition
When operating a business, it’s easy to grow comfortable with the past. An all too common problem with management is insisting on certain methodologies purely because it’s “how it is done.”
Tradition for tradition’s sake doesn’t have a place in business. Managing a business is about evolution and growth. If there is a new way that improves upon the old ways, it’s time to change.
While any worker can complain about change, it is managers who are stuck in their ways that are the real threat to evolution and growth. Managers have the power, intentionally or not, to push back on orders from on high and/or make good decisions seem bad on paper.
Management resisting change is a known issue in the business world but one that owners or other higher-ups can work to combat. Oftentimes this requires a three-fold approach:
1. Look Inward
If you suspect management may be resistant to change, you must first look at yourself. Are you able to evolve with your company? Are you able to keep a sharp eye out for inefficiencies and subtle changes to company culture?
This is often an issue for older CEOs (but not exclusively). A new manager or marketing executive has big, data-driven ideas that can improve things that ostensibly the CEO supports. The reality, however, is different.
If you drag your feet or don’t make an effort to understand recommended changes, management is going to detect that. You don’t need to be a master in all disciplines; what you need is to research why a change is being made and make sure you really believe in it.
2. Talk to Management
Change is hard for humans, even among many of the people who acknowledge it is important. When change needs to occur, the people in charge should be direct with those who work under them.
First, always explain why a change is being made. Just like staying the same for no reason is a bad move, so is changing. Reviewing why the company is going in a certain direction can do a lot to combat frustration.
Second, pay close attention to naysayers and employees who have been around a long time. While contradictory opinions can be helpful in meetings, you need to make sure they will do what is needed and understand what you’re saying.
3. Monitor and Follow-up
When a big change is necessary, be sure to monitor the situation and follow up with any employees who are confused or remain resistant. This is critical to making genuine progress.
First, this stops anyone from sabotaging a company’s efforts. Managers stuck in their ways can be found out and disciplined as appropriate. By extension, others learn you are watching, and these changes are important.
Second, it helps cut down on the frustrations involved in the learning process. Even good changes aren’t always intuitive; employees might like a change to an open office plan but still not quite understand how the new work pipeline operates.
Find Your Workplace Management Strategy
While the above is important to consider, good workplace management can really be summed up as managing a company for growth and employee retention. Management and higher-ups need to keep those two goals in mind for the best results.
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