By Meredith Wood
As a leader, you’ve proven your ability to deliver for your company. Whether it’s generating incredible sales numbers, finding beneficial financing, crafting a clear strategic vision, or creating an effective marketing campaign, you’ve shown that you can contribute to revenue and growth. The other critical piece of your role is managing your team, which might not be something you learned about in school or at previous jobs.
Some of managing a team comes down to common sense, but what are some less obvious things you can do to keep your employees smiling and motivated? We’ll explore five of them below.
1. Encourage Downtime
You may worry that providing your team with the opportunity to take a break may open the door for them to relax all day and not get any work done. But research has shown that just the opposite is true: This New York Times article cites a number of studies about the benefits of a midday nap for increasing productivity and employee happiness.
Even if you’re not ready to allow your team to pull out a facemask and pillow for a little shut-eye, creating an environment where they’re free to get up and take a walk or grab a coffee outside the office can be beneficial, too. A 15- or 20-minute break means they’ll come back to their desks feeling refreshed and refocused.
2. Hand Out New Responsibilities
It might seem that giving your employees more responsibilities would add to their workload and cause stress. However, giving your colleagues additional tasks can have quite the opposite effect. Employees who are given the authority and autonomy to take charge of more projects develop a sense of ownership over the tasks, which can increase their pride in their work and their overall job satisfaction.
Of course, it is possible to overload employees, so keep an eye out for signs of burnout. If an employee is regularly staying late or working weekends to complete new tasks, you may need to reevaluate the distribution of work.
3. Inspire Social Interaction
You may think creating an environment where employees are free to socialize and have some fun may mean they’ll slack off all day, but with a dedicated team this is not the case. Designing the office layout to foster conversation, arranging social hours, setting aside a day each week for a team lunch, and even organizing excursions for the team to do volunteer work together have proven to engender a sense of camaraderie and greater engagement at work.
If your employees all get along and are friendly both in and outside of work, you’ll find they’re excited to work as a team on projects and tasks and are not only happier but more productive.
4. Let Them Air Grievances
Why would you give employees a chance to complain? The fact of the matter is, if there are issues in an office, they’re already being discussed around the water cooler. It’s better for you, as the manager, to encourage your employees to come to you with their concerns, rather than gossiping about issues with their colleagues.
If you are willing to hear your employees out and want to take action to address the issues they raise, you’ll gain their respect and create a happier workplace. Consider using a pulse survey tool, like TINYpulse, to check in regularly with your employees and give everyone a chance to weigh in (even those who might be reluctant to come and speak to you directly).
5. Cut Down on Meetings
While the idea of fostering a culture of collaboration is a noble one, the fact of the matter is that many workplaces are suffering from what Harvard Business Review calls a “collaborative overload.” Employees find themselves called from meeting to meeting, asked to weigh in and reach a consensus on each and every issue, and are then left with little time to do their actual job. This creates stress, burnout, and an unhappy team.
Eliminating unnecessary meetings and streamlining those that you do need can create a much more positive office environment. Make sure each meeting has an owner who creates a clear agenda, and considers using tricks like having a standing meeting–people are more likely to keep things succinct if they’re forced to stay on their feet.
Leaders have a great deal of influence on the way their team feels about coming into work each day. When you take steps to create a nurturing and positive work environment, you end up with employees who are not only more content, but also more productive and dedicated.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. Meredith is also the Senior Financial and B2B Correspondent for AlleyWire.