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Employees Driving You Nuts? It Might Be You, Not Them.

Employees Driving You Nuts? It Might Be You, Not Them.
Image credit: agbeat.com

Frustrated by your employees? The problem may be you, not them.

Your employees are your business, and keeping them motivated has a direct result on your own bottom line. It's harder to do nowadays. More than 70 percent of employees recently surveyed claim to be disengaged at work.

But, as humans, we get fed up with the people working for us. We expect them to have the same drive and energy for our enterprise as we do, even though they don't own the business. And we may despair that we can't control them, “fix” them or at least mold them into something closer to what we want.

Don't despair. Often, it is the owner, not the worker, who is the biggest problem, and a few personal changes can go a long way toward improving staff morale and engagement – and keep you from getting so frustrated by the people you manage.

Consider the following four ideas.

Identify what's most important.
Often when managers find themselves frustrated with employees, they begin to focus on small things rather than what really needs to be accomplished. While small things can become big problems, it's important for business leaders to be clear with themselves about big-picture goals. Take an employee who is chronically late. You might feel that needs to be addressed, because you believe in punctuality. Now say that same employee is also your top salesperson. Should you work about the clock, when clearly the job results are helping you?

Set expectations.
So many managers I coach express frustration over what their employees “lack.” But, when I ask them whether they themselves have set expectations for their workers, they almost always admit they have not. You cannoit expect your employees to be mind-readers. While it's incumbent upon employees to communicate with each other and with managers, it's equally important for managers and business owners to set measurable expectations and clearly communicate them to employees.

Hold yourself and your employees accountable.
Lack of accountability creates bad habits and mediocrity. If employees are not meeting expectations that have been clearly defined, it's imperative to address that immediately. If you put it off, you run several risk. The employee's habit might be harder to break later. You will create a bad office morale situation by letting one person “get away” with something. And you can cause mutual resentment that can be toxic, particularly for a small business. What's more, you have to lead by example. Admit your mistakes and hold yourself accountable. True leaders are not afraid to admit when they're wrong and that organically commands respect.

Be more open with feedback.
Employers and managers commonly use annual reviews as the only forum for providing feedback to subordinates. Yet, formal yearly reviews are just that -- a formality. The most productive feedback to employees is more organic and ongoing, where a job well-done is acknowledged and weak performance is addressed in real time. Again, this is a chance to lead by example by asking for feedback from your own employees. Few managers think that it's a good idea to solicit ongoing feedback from workers for fear it can break down the structured organizational hierarchy. However, managers have the ability to set the tone of how feedback is offered and received. Implementing a common practice where feedback is offered in a professional manner and for the sole purpose of increasing productivity for optimal results instantly raises the level of internal communication and mutual respect. 

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur Coach™, is a certified professional coach based in New York. A Wall Street veteran, she specializes in Occupreneur™ coaching, strategy and crisis management services for executives, business leaders and organizations striving to improve their businesses or careers.

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