So you’re finally in the boss’s chair, huh? Before investing in that new nameplate or plotting your next move up the corporate ladder, take the time to foster relationships with your employees. After all, you were there once, too, and happy employees mean a better work environment for all. Here’s how:
- Get to know them. We mean more than first names and hometowns. Your new employees may be anxious about what the change in leadership (ahem, you) will mean for them. Showing a genuine interest in learning more about them will help put some of those fears to rest. A good start is to set a meeting with HR & upper management to find out all you can about your new employees. This’ll also give you an opportunity to mentally flag any potential issues with different personalities and agendas. Once you’ve settled in, set up one-on-one meetings, noting to each staffer the positives you’ve heard about him or her. Ask employees about their roles, their goals, and what skills they have that aren’t being utilized—and then make it your mission to realize those goals together.
- Allow for time to implement your changes. We get it, you’re the boss, and as such you likely have ideas of your own of how things should be run. Let your employees in on these changes well in advance of implementing them so that everyone is on the same page. Set clear parameters of what will be expected of them and provide a (reasonable) timeframe for when you would like those changes to be completed. Make clear what support will be available—say, training on new software or social media integration—and how the shift will benefit them. And make sure to use them as a resource! They may know more about the company than you do and could be helpful in making sure your new ideas jive with existing office culture.
- Critique without being critical. Genuine praise can motivate a team to work harder; so can genuine criticism. Make it a compliment sandwich! Start with a compliment and end with a compliment, with the zinger of what needs to be improved on in the middle. It’s not phony to compliment someone whom you are also reprimanding. Focus your feedback on behaviors and skills that you want to see more of, with examples of why certain things work better than others.
- Don’t be a dictator! You want people to want to work for you, and to root for you. By being a dictator (let’s be honest: a dick), you may get people to do the work but they won’t like it. If they don’t like it, then they will not give you their best. Be open to the different ways people work, and remember that productivity works in cycles. Be open to the varying ways employees can be the most productive, and remember that time away from ye olde computer can be very positive. You can be an efficient boss without turning into a tyrant.
In the end, there will be a bit of a learning curve–and that’s alright! Take notes on what works and what doesn’t, and learn from mistakes. Be respected. Be liked. Don’t be feared. You can do it—after all, you’re the boss!