Good economy or bad, growing workplace or fading one, it falls to front-line managers to rally the troops.
Sometimes, midlevel bosses aren't any happier than the rank and file, so they have the extra challenge of motivating themselves first.
But they have to do it, or the organization suffers.
Freelance writer Kevin Murphy shared with me a tidy little volume on communicating in the workplace that was self-published by P/Strada, a management consultancy in Lenexa, Kan.
CEO Patrice Manuel, along with A. William McVey, a motivational speaker, and Steve Ervin, president of ReVision Consulting, combined their expertise in "Talking Like Leaders."
How to do that? Here are their thoughts:
•Use emotional intelligence. Understand how your workers feel so that you can frame your message.
Share your knowledge about why things are requested, why things are happening.
Set motivating goals for your team to help meet the organization's expectations.
Give public praise when goals are met or jobs are done well.
Treat your employees like customers. Create a focus group to get their opinions.
Don't just give vapid pep talks. Share the bad news, too. But explain it and suggest how your workers can be part of the solution.
Don't hide in your office. Spend time with your employees. Ask them what they like or don't like about their work.
Provide training or other personal assistance to help break through barriers that are making their jobs harder.
Never assume that occasional performance reviews are enough to motivate or correct behavior. Be sure to have more frequent, individual contact with your workers.
In truth, there's no tougher job than midlevel management. It's the classic rock-and-a-hard-place position in which the responsibility to carry out orders may exceed the authority to make things happen.
But there can be great self-satisfaction when you can see the results of your influence.
(Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Her "Your Job" blog at economy.kansascity.com includes daily posts about job-related issues of wide interest. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or by email at email@example.com.)
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