Meet Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful, Happy, and, of course, the resident know-it-all, Doc. You may think of this as a list of Snow White’s seven short friends, but these monikers may actually apply to the collection of assorted characters that make up your staff. Yes, the workplace is populated by a myriad people with unique personalities, different values, diverse cultural backgrounds, and varied abilities. And managing them takes expertise.
So how can you motivate a Sleepy, build confidence in a Bashful, and harness the enthusiasm of a Happy? Thankfully, by following a few effective management tips, you can successfully lead your team and, as the fairy tale goes, live happily ever after.
Reward Trumps Punishment
How would you go about discouraging Sleepy from napping during office hours? Would you dock him for his time spent dozing or would you reward him for the times he remains alert and awake?
According to most experts on human behavior, positive reinforcement–rewarding Sleepy for desirable behaviors–works best. In fact, according to Entrepreneur, a study by a McGill University Child Psychology Professor revealed that when children are told they will be punished for a certain behavior, they continue to perform the behavior, but lie about doing so in order to appease the adult.
Punitive action, therefore, does not discourage the behavior, but, instead, motivates the individual to perform the behavior covertly and participate in deception. And this is the last thing you want to happen within your team.
Equip Them for Success
Has it ever occurred to you that Dopey may not be dopey at all? Perhaps, he has not received adequate training, he has been burdened with outdated equipment, or his natural abilities are not being tapped in to.
Dopey may need to engage in job shadowing, take a refresher course, or be provided with a mentor. Plus, as Forbes‘ “7 Management Practices that can Improve Employee Productivity” points out, many people receive considerably more training and development opportunities in the latter stages of their careers than in the early formative stages, when they need it most. By providing Dopey with learning opportunities, you will not only better equip him for the job, but you will also boost his confidence and self-efficacy.
Give Them Something to Strive For
Humans rarely engage in an activity unless there is some sort of end goal. Slaving over a hot stove leads to savoring a tasty meal, mowing the grass adds to your home’s curb appeal, and taking an anti-histamine decreases your allergy symptoms. You do these things to experience the consequences. You would not, however, spend time slapping a winter mitt against your front door as this activity neither serves a purpose nor achieves an end goal.
Your employees need to feel like they, too, are working towards goals. If they perceive themselves to be merely slapping mitts, they will lose their motivation and productivity will decrease. But by assigning them tangible and doable goals that relate directly to their work tasks, you will increase their enthusiasm for the tasks at hand and increase their output.
Back Pats and “Atta Boys”
Everyone from the CEO in the ivory tower to the newbie in the mailroom needs recognition for a job well done and, unfortunately, individuals on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder receive fewer extrinsic rewards than their more highly placed counterparts.
It is important to remember, however, that your sales team could not reach its goals without the support of your “behind the scenes” staff. Your Bashfuls are just as important as your Docs, so ensure that you celebrate the achievements of everyone who meets or exceeds their goals.
Use Your Ears
Do you invite your employees to voice their concerns, share their ideas, and engage in collaborative problem-solving? Have you ever considered that, perhaps, Grumpy’s demeanor is caused by a valid problem at work? If your door is often closed and your schedule does not include face-time with your team members, you may find Grumpy’s low level of job satisfaction spreading to other workers–including your perennial ray of sunshine, Happy.
“4 Tips on Being a More Inclusive Manager” recommends, instead, inviting input from every employee, inspiring them to think of the best ways to help the company, empowering employees to take control of their own careers, and taking a greater emotional interest in the success of the company.
Cookie cutter shapes can only be found in the bakery. Your team is made up of very different people–and this is a good thing. Instead of trying to mold your employees into your image of what a model worker should be, embrace the gifts, talents, and unique qualities that each individual possesses.
Scientists say that variation is the genetic key to survival–and the same is true of the workplace. So, embrace Doc’s leadership abilities, Happy’s enthusiasm, Sneezy’s ability to overcome obstacles, Bashful’s modesty, Grumpy’s determination, Sleepy’s observational skills–yes, he’s known for them–and Dopey’s ability to provide comic relief. And treat them all with dignity and respect.
Managing a myriad of misfits can prove challenging. But, by following a few common sense tips, you can create a cohesive band of merry team members and ensure that your company becomes the standard of excellence in your sector. Heigh ho.
If you are concerned about Sneezy’s respiratory health or Grumpy’s mental wellness, you may wish to revisit the health insurance offered by your company. Check out “Does a High Deductible Health Plan Really Benefit Your Employees” to learn more.