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How Managers Can Positively Influence Employees

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  • 0:03 Impact of a Manager
  • 0:50 Be a Role Model
  • 1:56 Provide Frequent Feedback
  • 3:40 Connect to the Bigger Picture
  • 4:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Bayliss
Managers have a significant influence on employees' experiences at work. In this lesson, learn specific strategies managers can employ to positively influence their direct reports.

Impact of a Manager

Sandy and Martin are both managers for a small publishing company. They both oversee about ten employees and are responsible for managing day to day operations, helping their employees prioritize tasks, providing feedback, and helping their employees develop new skills. Sandy's employees love coming to work, support each other, and are highly productive. Visitors to the office routinely comment about how happy Sandy's team seems. Martin's group is a different story. His employees take frequent time off, grumble about the job during their lunch break, and don't complete tasks as efficiently or well as Sandy's group. What's the difference between these two managers? How can Martin adjust his management style to more positively influence his employees and consequently get more out of them?

Be a Role Model

Sandy frequently stays late or comes in early to help her employees complete tasks. She pitches in when her team is working on less pleasant tasks, often taking the hardest work for herself. She talks about even the most difficult clients with respect and doesn't complain about things that are bothering her. In contrast, Martin spends a lot of time at his desk, checking personal email. He's out of the office at 5:00 pm everyday, even if it means cutting an important conversation short. He makes fun of difficult clients and conveniently disappears when his team starts on a tedious project.

Employees have eagle eyes. They see the differences between Sandy and Martin's behavior and unconsciously emulate it. An employee who sees Sandy helping someone is more likely to step up and help someone herself. An employee who notices that Martin leaves at 5:00 on the dot has no reason to stay a little later to finish up a project.

As a manager, you should think about the behaviors that you want from your employees and make sure that you exemplify them as a role model. Make a list of the behaviors and rate yourself on each behavior. Then, identify specific actions you want to take to improve your role modeling.

Provide Frequent Feedback

Everyday, Sandy walks around the office, providing specific, positive feedback to her employees. It might be small feedback, such as 'I like the way you formatted this document because it makes it easy to scan.' Other times, it's larger, such as 'I really appreciate how organized you were. It helped you complete your project one week ahead of the deadline.' Either way, she makes sure to do it in public so that everyone can hear about their coworkers' accomplishments and share in the positive atmosphere. When Sandy does need to provide constructive, or negative, feedback, she does it behind closed doors so that employees don't feel embarrassed or singled out. In contrast, Martin provides feedback only when he needs to correct behavior or performance problems. His employees dread talking to him because they know that it will probably be a negative experience.

When people think about feedback, they usually think of it as a negative thing. In fact, most feedback should be positive. Positive feedback reinforces the behaviors that should continue to help employees feel better about their work. Provide your feedback in a timely manner and be specific. Instead of telling an employee that he did a great job, tell him what he did and what the impact was. For example, 'Your competitive analysis uncovered some new information that will help us make an informed decision.' When employees know the specific behavior they did well on, they can apply it to other situations.

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