Managing Employees

5 Secrets Every Good Boss in the Modern Workplace Knows

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Trust in bosses is on the decline, according to a new survey by Interaction Associates released last month. Nearly 60 percent of the 520 managers or supervisors  polled worldwide believe their organization lacks trust.

And 85 percent of 24,000 respondents to a worldwide Regus survey last year said they wanted their bosses to show more trust in their employees who work flexible hours.

Indeed employee engagement measured just 13 percent in a huge worldwide survey conducted by Gallup in 2012.

The best bosses know the key to keeping employees engaged is by giving them the managerial support they seek.

Here are a few secrets every good boss knows about managing a modern workforce:

Related: Join the League of Extraordinary Bosses: 4 Habits to Cultivate

1. Motivation is not all about rewards.

Contingent motivators (such as “if you do this, then that”) narrow thinking and block creativity unless the tasks at hand are simple and rote, Daniel Pink said in a TED Talk "The Puzzle of Motivation." When employees have a complex problem to solve, their possibilities seem restricted by the idea of an incentive.

Instead, managers should share a compelling vision and the objectives to be reached to realize that vision. Provide feedback and recognition along the way to help employees reach their objectives. Empower autonomous workers with the necessary tools and support them along the way.

2. Micromanagers won't win.

When managers are looking over every employee’s shoulder, this only builds a nervous, disengaged team. The employees involved feel a lack of trust from their managers, which sets a negative tone through the workplace and puts unnecessary pressure on staff.

Give employees the tools they need and the direction, but leave the rest to them. When mistakes happen, look at it as a teachable moment not just for the employee but the leaders as well.

Ask “Why did the employee screw up? Did he lack the necessary skills? Was the objective unclear? Did the employee not receive appropriate feedback? Ensure that evaluations and feedback are growth not punishment oriented.

Related: Culture That Counts -- 5 Ways to Dramatically Boost Employee Satisfaction

3. Hierarchies are not conducive to trust.

Millennials are expected to take the workforce by storm, occupying 75 percent of the world's workforce by 2025, according to a 2014 Deloitte survey released last January. "Roughly two-thirds of Millennials feel the outlook and attitudes of management are serious barriers to innovation, such as a reluctance to take risk," according to the report that polled 7,800 millennials from 28 countries. 

Forward-thinking managers regard their employees as collaborators in contrast to the management-centric approach prevalent years ago. And open-minded managers appreciate employees who are unafraid to share ideas and who want to contribute in a way that makes a difference, even if that means challenging the views of their superiors. 

“Millennials want to leave their mark on the world by working for organizations that benefit society, encourage innovation, and provide them with the opportunity to expand their skills,” the Deloitte study noted. Only 45 percent of the millennials surveyed said they believe leaders in developed markets are committed to helping improve society.

Don’t sit on a throne expecting employees to follow directions blindly. Expect questions, new ideas and the challenging of opinions. When working together with staff, transcend the limitations of rank. Involve everyone on a team in making big decisions. Always listen to what employees have to say and respond supportively.

4. Employees do great work when given freedom.

In a 2012 study by Bentley University, 40 percent of 1,000 millennial women and 33 percent of millennial men said they were interested in working from home.

More recently, 41 percent of 933 employees polled for the 2014 State of Telecommuting Report released in February said they telecommute one day a week.

The remote workforce is on the rise, and the ability to work from wherever and whenever will undoubtedly move from a desire among workers to a mainstay.

Why is sticking around the office from 9 to 5 no longer cool? For many employees today, the work results are what matter more than the time involved to produce them. Technology has enabled efficiency at record-breaking levels when it comes to getting things done.

There's no use in letting all that spare time go to waste. Many employees today want to use it to put the “life” back in work-life balance, which may have been thrown off by workaholic predecessors.

Respect employees' time and give them the freedom to work from home occasionally, if the organization can permit it. Recognize them for their achievements instead of how much time they put in at the office.

Related: Stop Delaying: 3 Surefire Ways to Do Employee Reviews Properly

5. Information needs to be accessible at all times.

When retrieving information, consumers are no longer used to waiting, unless it’s just three seconds. Many contemporary workers don’t like to wait either, especially when it comes to receiving feedback on the job. Information, whether it's about how-to guides or performance evaluations, needs to be immediately accessible to help workers learn how to improve faster.

Communicate with timeliness in all areas, especially when giving feedback. The sooner employees know what they’re doing well and what they need to improve upon, the sooner they can work on making the necessary changes.

What are some other secrets a good boss might know about managing a modern workforce?

Related: Multiply the Trust Factor Inside Your Organization