Old-fashioned management was easy. Back in the Machine Age, all a foreman or boss had to do was stand at the end of the line and make sure everybody was doing their job.
How did they make sure people were working? Threats, of course! It’s easy to manage through fear. All you have to do is let people know that you have the power to fire them.
Now we’ve left the Machine Age. We’re in the Knowledge Economy now, and we need more from our employees than grudging compliance with our standards and procedures.
We need them to care, and to put their heart and mind into their work. Now we see the truth: you can’t get people to give their best by threatening them!
We have to lead in the opposite way — we have to create trust in our environment, and that’s something that is new to plenty of managers.
They grew up as managers leading through fear rather than through trust. Now they have to learn a whole new way to manage their teams.
They aren’t used to talking openly and honestly with their employees. They aren’t used to saying things like these:
- I need your help.
- I’m not sure how we should proceed. What do you think?
- I so appreciate what you did yesterday to solve that problem. We couldn’t have done it without you.
- What can I do to support you in this assignment?
Managers are learning a new vocabulary. If trust-based leadership is new to you and your team, here is a way to step into it and begin to grow your muscles!
If you haven’t been holding one-on-one meetings with your staff members, now is a great time to start.
A one-on-one meeting is a chance for a manager and a team member to catch up and share ideas. “Have you met your goals?” is a topic for the meeting, but it’s not the primary topic.
The primary subject for your one-on-one meetings is “How are you doing?”
If your employee isn’t hitting his or her goals, you need to know the reason. In the old days, a fear-based manager might say “I don’t want to know the reason — if you don’t hit your goals, you’re history!”
That’s foolish. You won’t learn anything unless you ask questions. Foolish managers say “Under-performing employee? Off with his head!” and let a potentially tremendous employee walk out the door.
Liz Ryan has written this article. she is a regular contributor to Forbes and she writes about bringing life to work and bringing work to life.