What's The Best Strategy For Getting The Best Out Of Your Employees?

If you feel your employees aren't performing to their full potential, a change in managerial style might be called for!

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Being the boss isn't just about sitting in your comfy office delegating tasks to your subordinates. As the leader of the group, it falls to you to inspire and motivate those working under you, thus improving overall performance levels. Every boss has their own methods of doing so, with varying results. If you want to achieve the same with your team, here are a couple of strategies backed by science for you to test.

Be The Nice Guy

Some bosses might prefer a reign of terror in the workplace, but recent research indicates taking the nice approach is the way to go. In a study published in The Leadership Quarterly in June 2018, researchers at Binghamton University found that showing compassion to subordinates almost always pays off, especially when employee goals and benchmarks are clearly defined. They surveyed nearly 1,000 members of the Taiwanese military and almost 200 adults working full-time in the United States and were surprised to note that the results were consistent across both groups despite the geographical and cultural variations.

Their research revealed three distinct styles of leaders:

  • Authoritarianism-dominant: Leaders who assert absolute authority and are focused mostly on completing tasks at all costs with little consideration of the well-being of subordinates
  • Benevolence-dominant: Leaders who care about the personal well-being of their subordinates.

  • Classical paternalistic: A combination of both authoritarianism and benevolence, with a strong focus on both task completion and the well-being of subordinates.

The researchers found that authoritarianism-dominant leadership almost always had negative results on job performance, while benevolence-dominant leadership almost always gave a positive outcome.

"Subordinates and employees are not tools or machines that you can just use. They are human beings and deserve to be treated with respect," explained Chou-Yu Tsai, assistant professor of management at Binghamton University's School of Management in an official press release. "Make sure you are focusing on their well-being and helping them find the support they need, while also being clear about what your expectations and priorities are. This is a work-based version of "tough love' often seen in parent-child relationships."

Instant Rewards

Have you noticed that motivation levels are dwindling among your employees? It might have something to do with how they're being rewarded for their work. In a study entitled "It's About Time: Earlier Rewards Increase Intrinsic Motivation" published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in June 2018, Cornell researchers found a better alternative to waiting until the end of a project to hand out rewards, which is the more commonly accepted practice.

Instead, they found that a more periodic system of compensation is much better for employees' levels of focus, engagement, and job satisfaction. One of the ways to put it into practice is to reward an employee at the outset of a new project, rather than after its completion!

"The idea that immediate rewards could increase intrinsic motivation sounds counterintuitive, as people often think about rewards as undermining interest in a task," said lead author Kaitlyn Woolley in an official press release. "But for activities like work, where people are already getting paid, immediate rewards can actually increase intrinsic motivation, compared with delayed or no rewards."

They put it down to the fact that an immediate reward seems to make people more invested in the project. A hobby is enjoyable, intrinsically motivated and rewarding in and of itself—you do it just for the sake of doing it, rather than the expectation of a reward. The act of adding immediate rewards at work increases the positive experience of the task, making it a much more enjoyable activity as a whole. "More evidence suggests immediate rewards are beneficial," said Woolley. "They're a useful tool for increasing interest in an activity."