Ask Not What Your Employees Can Do for You

Ask Not What Your Employees Can Do for You

By Zach Heller

“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” – Peter Drucker


How does a good manager see to it that his or her team produce the best results?

It is necessary for managers in any organization to expect the best from their employees. If you didn’t expect the best, you would be doing the organization a disservice. Your managers (or clients, or shareholders) expect the best out of you, and in turn that means they expect you to get the best out of your team.

With that, many managers fall into the trap of “demanding more”…

    • Demand better results
    • Demand faster action
    • Demand more productivity
    • Demand smarter answers

Cameron Morrisey, author of The Manager’s Diary, explains it like this:

“The success of a Supervisor or Manager depends entirely on how they lead their people, and the productivity that their leadership enables.”

You want to get the most out of your team, and so you think that the best way to do that is to push them harder. But the problem is that you’re looking at the situation, at the relationship between you and them, backwards.

Instead of asking what your employees can do for you, you should be asking what you can do for your employees. That’s the question strong managers will ask:

“What can I do for them that will help them do their jobs?”

Employees will rise to the challenge more often than not. And when you show them that you’re there to help them do their jobs, and that you value their input, you will get more out of them.

Start to view yourself as an enabler, and not as an enforcer.

Get input from the team on goal setting, project timelines, reward systems, creative solutions to problems you all face, and how to make your company or office a better place to work. Odds are that the ideas are all there just waiting for a good manager to come and pull them out.

If you don’t do this already, it’s a great way to get started on the path to a more fruitful manager/employee relationship: sit down with each of your direct reports and discuss progress and future goals, and ask them directly:

“How can I help you do your job better?”

How has a particular management style impacted your life? Share your stories of good and bad management in the comments below.

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