Posted: 25-Feb-2015 Category:
Many businesses and organizations spend a considerable amount of time and money on the area of employee development.
What few realize, however, is that the most essential factor in effective employee development is a well-respected and credible leader. So how does one become a credible and respected leader?
As simple as it sounds, the most effective leaders are those that lead by example. A strong leader will improve the workplace through actions rather than simply by instructing others to do so.
There are five key behaviours that are essential for leaders that strive to develop effective employee development programs.
1. Attitude - Attitude is often the first thing that your employees will notice about you. If you respond to challenging situations with a positive attitude, your employees will be more likely to trust your judgment and your advice.
On the contrary, employees will likely find it difficult to trust you as a leader if challenges are met by an overbearing, insecure or overly-negative attitude.
2. Consistency - Along with a positive attitude, consistency is extremely important in employee development. Consistency goes along with leading by example. Your actions need to be consistent with the message you are giving to your employees.
Consistency also refers to your office’s environment. According to Mitchell, Holtom and Lee (2001), employees are more likely to stay with a company if they feel an attachment and have a sense of belonging.
Consistently responding to your employees and creating an organizational culture of belonging and dependability can help reduce employee turnover and increase performance.
3. Awareness - It is absolutely essential that you, as a leader, remain aware of your office environment. Being aware can mean knowing when deadlines are, as well as being aware of the tasks that your employees are working on.
More importantly, being aware can also mean making those connections with your employees and understanding those things that are happening in the office, as well as outside of the office, that can have an effect on employee performance.
Making a conscious effort to get to know your employees and ask them how their day is going can go a long way in developing trust and increasing a sense of belonging in your organization.
Tansky and Cohen (2001) found that
employees that feel noticed and appreciated will want to do what it takes to be part of a high-performing team.
4. Communication - In order to reach your employees, it is important to be clear in both written and spoken communications, as well as implied and non-verbal communications.
“Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” This is especially important when you are attempting to build trust with your employees.
Avoiding ambiguous language, hyperbole, watered-down language and anything that might undermine your message lets employees know exactly what you expect of them.
It is hard to grow and develop professionally if you are constantly uncertain about what the expectations are.
The Division of Finance and Administration at Texas A&M University outlines several roles factors that supervisors have in the area of employee development. One of the most important of these roles is as a “performance coach”. A performance coach is like a coach of a football team. If the coach can not effectively communicate with the team, the players will ultimately lose the game.
In business, poor communication can lead to a loss of qualified employees, of performance goals and even of clients.
5. Responsiveness - The most well-respected and trusted managers are also often the most responsive.
Most employees want to know that their opinions are valued, and they also want to trust that problems are being dealt with quickly and appropriately. Responding to issues as they come up helps to showcase your leadership skills and gives your team members a reason to trust your judgment and message.
It is important to think of your employees as clients in this regard. If you want to keep a client, you provide them with responsive customer service. If you want your employees to grow, both in production levels and as professionals, it is important to be responsive to their needs.
It is critical to realize that all five of these characteristics work together in order to form a strong leader. If any one of these five characteristics is missing or poorly developed, it will be difficult to be a strong leader capable of shaping and molding team members.
These five characteristics are also the same traits nearly every leader would like to see their employees possess. Part of the employee development process is to assist your employees in refining these skills, making it even more important to lead by example.
In order to refine these traits in your employees, it is important that you, as a leader, are able to effectively demonstrate each of these five key skills.