I started this series by taking a look at today’s employees and what employers need to think about when working with them. A lot of that post was geared towards understanding younger employees, but this one is geared towards looking at all employees, not just the young.

Ever Notice What Outright Thugs Librarians Are?
Peter Patau
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The next 3 parts of this series lead with the header “Basic Do’s And Don’t”, for which there are 7 specific categories. This article has 2, the next has 2, and I close with 3 in the 3rd article; that only seems right. Let’s begin.

Don’t take your employees for granted

A. Most employees will not stay for money anymore. This is a reality many employers still haven’t come to grips with. If you abuse people, treat them as if they don’t count, don’t take their needs into consideration or anything else they perceive as bad treatment they’ll leave, even the unskilled workers, and you’ll be training people as if they were on an assembly line.

B. Your worst PR nightmare is a disgruntled employee. Mad employees will destroy your business in a heartbeat and you might not ever recover. They can kill your customer service initiatives, ruin your computer systems, or just work slowly & incompetently. These days they can tell someone on the outside almost anything and you’ll see it on the internet the day after, with no idea of which employee ratted you out.

C. Recognize your employees intellect; money doesn’t equate to intelligence. I’ve heard from so many people who get passed over by someone new because of a degree, even without experience. In many industries the smartest people in the room are the long term employees. If you look at the military the most valuable of all soldiers aren’t the officers but the sargents because they’ve done all the real work and most often have way more years of experience.

D. Employees aren’t your children; treat them as adults. I hear so many managers complain that their employees act like children. I usually respond that they’re probably being treated like children. There are old school rules that just don’t work in today’s world; actually, they didn’t work all that well in the past either. If your entire employee system seems like it’s penalty based then you temper innovation and the ability of your employees to make decisions. Without that ability, how can you ever truly evaluate them?

Don’t withhold important information from them

A. If the company is in trouble, give them some hint of it. There are two good reasons for letting employees know something bad might be going on. One, company transparency helps organizations communicate better with their employees and it makes them comfortable. Two, there’s a lot of intellectual capital at every company and it’s possible that someone from within might have some solutions to offer.

B. Ask employees for their thoughts; some just might have great ideas to share. I touched on this one above but it’s true. Employees are the ones doing the real work most of the time, and even if you’ve done the work in the past it doesn’t take long before you lose some of your skills.

C. Impart your knowledge; it can only benefit you later. I’ve heard employees say that the person they report to knows all the inns and outs of their business but won’t share the knowledge or any tips on how to do it better for fear they’ll take what they learn to competitors at some point. That’s the nature of doing business; you have to make sure your employees know as much as you do, or at least as much as they possibly can, so they can be of great benefit to you and your organization.

D. Let employees know how they’re doing, good or bad, on a consistent basis. We do this in two ways:

     1) Don’t wait until the yearly evaluation; try at least every 4 months. So many employees get a raw deal by only having a yearly evaluation and some managers get gamed because they can only remember “what have you done for me lately”. You can’t help anyone improve, or truly evaluate whether they belong or not, without checking on them more often.

  2) Make sure whatever you say is never personal, but progressive. Starting a conversation with “what’s wrong with you” is never a great way to start. Neither is “do you know what your problem is?” Whenever you counsel employees, unless they did something to you personally (like putting a rubber spider in your drawer when they know you don’t like bugs; didn’t happen to me but did to another manager), you need to make sure you only address job issues and nothing else. I recognize that sometimes it’s hard to do but it’s necessary, both for your protection and that of the employee. Say the wrong thing and you could have a lawsuit on your hands or a good employee who made a mistake walking out the door.

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