How To Be The Manager Everyone Wants To Work For
Wouldn’t it be great if people applied to work for your organisation because they wanted you to be their boss? Wouldn’t it be a testament to your skill as a manager if people asked to be put on a waiting list for vacancies where you work so that they could have you as their supervisor?
This may sound like a pie-in-the-sky; even cloud-cuckoo land, but the truth is that there is much that you can do to become the person that people want to work for. And the tragedy is that so many managers ignore these things to the extent that those who have that “privilege” can’t wait to leave.
Which of these is true of you? That people look forward to getting to work because you’re their supervisor, or that they can’t wait to go home for the same reason?
Make people happy
The key to all of this is that you strive to make people happy in their jobs. Happy people are more productive, and you know that. And it’s not just that they do more. Their attitude is contagious, too. Their enthusiasm makes everyone that much happier. It creates a positive work environment - a place where people want to be.
If people are happy at work, then they look forward to each day, and they enjoy being around you. So how do you make yourself the boss that everyone wants to work for?
By doing things for your employees that will make them more valuable to the industry that they work in, and not just your organisation, and by recognising them for doing so.
For generations, these two things have been central to making you into the manager everyone wants to work for, yet they continue to be overlooked or ignored by most who hold supervisory positions. That’s because the perception is that doing it requires more work.
What is that work?
It’s the work that’s required to build relationships with people, or the ability to “make nice” as those who are weak in that respect prefer to call it.
It’s self-evident that people are social creatures, and for that reason alone they expect to have good relationships with others, and especially those with whom they spend the most time. The workplace, therefore, should have an abundance of strong relationships.
Many managers, however, think it beneath them or unimportant to develop relationships on any level with those they supervise. They often assume that to do so will weaken their authority. They also believe that it requires more time to do that than to simply bark out orders. What they fail to realize is that many orders become redundant among those who know one another well, and and that’s because those who enjoy the company of one another already know what the other would like to have done, and just get on with it. Where relationships are weak, however, people generally are reluctant to show initiative lest they get their figurative hand slapped.
Weak managers not only fail to do what’s needed, they also make much of what doesn’t make people happy, but which to them is “easy.For instance, they believe that they can make people happy by “throwing money at the problem,” or by creating inclusive, politically correct company policies and applying them equally to everyone who works there, or by providing a safe and secure workplace, or by discouraging bullying or cliques. The fact is that employees expect you to do these things. They’re not “nice” options. By themselves, they won’t make people happy. In fact, in the absence of simultaneously making them more valuable to the industry and recognising them for it, they won’t make people happy. None of those things individually or collectively will make them excited about their jobs and make them want to come to work.
If it’s your ambition to be the manager that everyone wants to work for, then that will be the outcome that you’re looking for. And it’s how you know that people are happy at work; by their enthusiasm. If there’s no enthusiasm, then rest assured that people aren’t happy, even though they may fake a smile.
So how can you make people more valuable to the industry that they’re in, and how do you recognise them for that?
How to make people more valuable in their industry
It must be said that anything you do in this respect will also make them more valuable to your organisation, but you shouldn’t attempt to do the latter to the exclusion of the former. You shouldn’t think that you can develop people so that they’ll be more valuable to you, but try to limit their growth so that they can’t provide value to a competitor. You might be tempted to do this especially if the opportunities to advance where you work are limited.
The problem goes all the way back to the 1980s when companies told employees in no uncertain terms that they no longer had a job for life. When that happened, organisations forfeited their right, if they ever had it, to train people just for them; to expect that those they trained would stay with the organisations that made it possible. It’s probably why some training incurs an additional time commitment in the Forces. It’s so that the organisation gets some of the benefit of that training.
Work must be meaningful
The first thing to consider is the meaningfulness of the work itself. Everyone needs to feel that what they do actually matters, not only to their organisation and the people they serve, but also in the grand scheme of things. They need to have a sense of purpose because without it, they have no reason to do it at all.
One of the most powerful words in marketing today is because. People will do a lot of things if there’s a good reason to do it, but if there’s no reason, or the one you offer seems to be meaningless, then they’ll lose the motivation to do it. Boredom will set in, and soon thereafter complacency.
And you can’t expect people to find meaning. Instead, you have to make it your business to educate them - to connect the dots - to show them why what they do is so important. And if you’re unable to do this, then that’s a clear sign that either you need to grow more yourself, or the job needs to be changed so that what they do obviously does matter. There was a time when “hard labour” in prisons meant breaking rocks, a task if ever there was one that had no meaning. You don’t want your employees ever to feel as though that’s all they do when they come to work.
Work must provide opportunities to grow and advance
Growth and advancement go together. Growth is always with a view to taking the next step.
Children complete GCSEs so they can prepare for A-Levels. A-Levels prepare students for university. University prepares people for cognitively demanding work as adults. This doesn’t stop until they retire, though even then, various forms of adult education and training enable people to do more than they could have before. This is the essence of lifelong learning.
The work that you give your employees must stretch them a little every day. Not so much that they become discouraged and want to give up, but enough to make them believe in themselves to get the job done.
When growth stops, however, then people begin to feel that they’re unqualified for the next step. Those who are unqualified are no longer valuable, and those who feel this way will either become fearful about their jobs, or will leave for a place where they do feel valued.
People will want to work for you as long as you help them to grow
You can help them to grow by giving them the opportunities to do so. These may come in the form of training courses, or programs designed to help them to get further degrees, such as an MBA. Secondments to other departments or organisations also afford people the opportunity to grow. If you’re not sure what to do for your employees, then talk it over with them. Talk to them anyway. They’ll appreciate it.
Opportunities for growth don’t need to be limited to things that are work related. Extracurricular activities will make people feel good about themselves, too. Amazon, for instance, helped a warehouse worker to get a nursing degree, which meant that when he graduated, he left that company to work in a hospital. Yet, Amazon uses that story as an example for why people should work for them. Although training and development may mean that you lose an employee, it may also mean that you uncover a set of skills that you need, but didn’t know existed.
Employees must feel a sense of achievement as they grow
Growth is possible without feeling as though you’ve achieved anything of value. How often university graduates, for instance, will tell you that they didn’t learn anything in their studies. What do they mean? They mean that they expected to learn something useful for their jobs, but instead just “got a piece of paper” which led to their job. They couldn’t have qualified for the job without the degree, but to them, the degree was a waste of time and money.
What so many university graduates fail to realize, and higher education is remiss in pointing it out, is that their studies - reading and writing especially - has taught them to think and to reason - skills which they will need for the rest of their lives. But as no one has explained this to them, they feel that the system has let them down.
Employees must be recognised when they grow
Recognition is a tricky subject, if only because some want there to be a fanfare and others want to be practically unnoticed.
Public recognition, however, is only one way to mark their achievements.
Other ways include promotions, added responsibility, and more authority.
This gets back to providing meaning for people in their work. If what they do matters, then as they grow you’ll want them to do more of it.
You could add new, more demanding tasks, give them more decision-making responsibilities, and even rewrite their job descriptions and give them a new title. Such things give people greater status in the organisation as well and make them feel good about themselves.
And of course with the recognition and added responsibility, they should also be paid more. Otherwise, it looks like smoke and mirrors. Believe it or not, there are managers who want people to feel that what they do is valuable, but are unwilling to put their budgets where their mouths are. They talk a good game, but are misers at heart.
The managers that everyone wants to work for are trusted by their employees in everything. They know that they can rely on them for day-to-day stuff as well as in a crisis. They are models of integrity - people whose sense of what’s right and what’s wrong is there for all to see. There’s nothing wishy-washy about them.
The manager that everyone wants to work for will be known for inspiring people to grow, and encouraging them to take on projects that are bigger than they think they’re ready for. And they’ll always be on the lookout for activities that they can pass along to people that are like that.
They recognise how important it is to personally mentor those who are under them. It’s one thing to delegate a big project to someone, but it’s quite another to be there coaching, instructing, listening, or even hand-holding when necessary so that people can succeed.
Managers like that are fun to be with. And when people have fun with you, then that makes them happy. Are you a manager that everyone wants to work for? If not, then make friends with those who are. Model yourself after them. Find out why people want to be with them.
You won’t regret it.