Enchantment defines a relationship with employees that is deep, delightful, and long-lasting. If you can enchant your employees, they will work harder, longer, and smarter for you — and, ideally, you for them too. Here are the ten best ways to enchant your employees.
- Provide a MAP. In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink explains the big three of what employees want from a boss: an opportunity to Master new skills while working Autonomously towards a high Purpose. There are lots of other things that might attract employees, but a MAP is what really enchants them.
- Empower them to do what's right. A logical offshoot of autonomous work is that you trust your employee enough to make the right decision for customers. When you show this level of trust and empower employees, they do the best work that they can.
- Judge your results and their intentions. Most managers are harsher judges of the results of their employees than they are of their own results: "You didn't meet quota, but I really tried to meet mine." This is the opposite of what an enchanting manager does. Be a tougher judge of your results than your employees.
- Address your shortcomings first. Now that you know what to judge, now you need to know what to fix. No employee is perfect, but neither are you. Before you pontificate about what your employees should fix, talk about how you could have done a better job yourself.
- Suck it up. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs is an enchanting guy. Why is he enchanting? It's because he's willing to suck it up and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Nothing is too dirty for him. Employees need to know that you'll do the dirty, hard, and frustrating jobs too.
- Don't ask them to do what you wouldn't do. The flip side of the willingness to suck it up is that you never ask employees to do something that you wouldn't do. If you're not going to fly coach class from San Francisco to Mumbai, don't ask them to either. This is a great philosophy to apply to employees, customers, partners, and vendors.
- Celebrate success. On the other hand, when your organization succeeds, take some time out to celebrate. Macho and relentless toil in the face of success (or failure) is over-rated. And the best kind of success, and the best way to celebrate success, is as a group.
- Find a devil's advocate. A devil's advocate who argues against what management says is a good person. He or she will improve your product or service by pointing out weaknesses, foster internal communication because disenchanted employees have someone to talk to, and show that rocking the boat and divergent thinking is acceptable.
- Tell them you want them. According to Michael Lopp, author of Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager, the three most important words during the recruitment process is "We want you." This is true not only during the recruiting phase but everyday of your organization's existence. If you want to enchant your employees, ensure that they know they're wanted every day they come in and especially every night they go home.
- Don't rely on money. I'm not saying you shouldn't pay people fairly — even well — but money is usually the enemy of enchantment. It can pollute relationships because it muddies the motivation: Are people doing this because it's their job or because they truly believe in the product or service?
If you embrace these ten recommendations and truly aspire to enchant your employees, you'll be a much better boss, and the world will be a kinder, gentler, and happier place.
This blog first appeared on Harvard Business Review on 07/08/2011.