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People development; Leadership skills, know your people.

February 18th, 2013

Having worked for managers and leaders both good and bad, and having been a leader and manager myself, there is one thing that I can sincerely recommend.  That one thing is; know your people.  Leadership skills are important but knowing your people is just as important if not more so.

I have time and time again seen hard working individuals become demotivated and disillusioned as a result of being alienated or undervalued by managers/leaders.  This has often not been an intentional outcome but more of an  unfortunate side effect of a managers lack of people skills or a side effect of a dysfunctional performance culture.  However, the outcome is still the same, individuals become disengaged, unproductive, have higher absence rates, clock watch more and potentially end up leaving, causing staff turnover and increasing costs.

So what can we do as enlightened leaders of people?

Learn what it is about the job your people enjoy.

If you know what it is about the job that the individual enjoys then you can improve their time at work enhancing this particular area where possible.  Some people enjoy particular aspects of work more than others and where possible work can be allocated accordingly.  This will assist in the individual’s enjoyment of work and there will be ‘flow’.  Many of us achieve ‘flow’ in our work; this is when time flies at work, you feel productive, good about yourself and your contribution and go home at the end of the day with a feeling of satisfaction.

Discover the individuals preferred method of recognition.

People are different, we all know that, but do you know how your different people prefer to be recognised for their achievements in the workplace?  Some of your people will appreciate a formal award or certificate, some will appreciate the awards evenings and seeing their name on the employee of the month honor role.  Other members of your teams would prefer a less public appreciation of their contribution, such as a personal thank you from the boss, an email or letter of thanks.

Whilst you may think you are doing a good thing for your people by setting up an awards evening and calling people up to receive certificates, you may well be actually causing your people embarrassment.  Similarly if you give a letter thanks to someone who prefers the limelight then you may well be seen to be not appreciating their achievement.

The above are only two of the ways that a good leader can keep employees engaged and positively contributing to the goals of the company through getting to know their people.

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