One of the most rewarding parts of being an employer is watching your team grow to become better each day. At our agency, we believe that every one of our employees has room to grow, both within our organization and in their professional and personal lives beyond the walls of Bear Icebox. I’ve experienced work environments where I didn’t feel recognized for the work I did or understood as an individual with a life outside of the organizations I worked for. To be honest, those sour experiences have helped shape the way we run Bear Icebox–I believe for the better. I came into my role as Director of Client Services with the clients top of mind but I soon realized that the most important part of our organization–unequivocally–is our team. I never wanted anyone working at our agency to feel anything that I’d felt. Not to mention, happy teams perform better for clients. According to Lorman, companies with happy employees outperform their competition by 20%. So, we slowly began to evaluate the way things were done.
With Bob as our ring leader and Director of PR, I knew that often leaders don’t take time to step back and assess how they’re working with their teams. And I get it. It’s hard to be in the day-to-day grind and critique your own management style. That’s why it’s great to work with your spouse (in case you didn’t know, Bob Spoerl and DeAnna Spoerl of Bear Icebox are married). See, I have no problem pointing out areas that need work (as a matter of fact, we have a leaky faucet that needs fixing now that I think about it..). In all seriousness, Bob and I talked, agreed, disagreed and ultimately decided that the best way to become great leaders is to put our team and their needs first. That’s servant leadership at its core–a leadership philosophy in which the goal of the leader is to serve. Much more about that here at the Robert F. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership’s website.
With that in mind, I’ve put together five ways to encourage, empower and engage with your team to improve your working relationships and work environment that benefits everyone.
- Compliment your team – do it often. We all love a pat on the back. But it means so much more when it comes from leaders or mentors especially in the world of PR–which can be brutal and unforgiving. So give praise when it’s due. Everyone appreciates their flowers while they’re fresh.
- Ask for clarification to know what your team is doing. This is a great way to engage with your team and also a way to help them learn. Having them explain what they’re doing along with why they’re doing it, helps them retain information. It also provides them a leg up in the future when they are training others. The Socratic method, or Socratic questioning, has been used for thousands of years as a valuable tool to educate. Ask students–or in this case–direct reports questions in an effort to educate them and create an environment where they learn.
- Let them play in fire. Oops! A little fire on the stove that can be put out typically won’t destroy the entire house. In our line of work, there’s not much room for mistakes. However, the best of us have learned some of our greatest lessons after a major uh-oh. The key is to be available to help them through learning moments and hope they won’t make the same mistake again.
- Demand opinions – seriously. “This is the way it’s done, no questions asked!” Yikes. I wouldn’t wanna work for that guy. Leaders should do more when it comes to empowering their teams to share ideas in spaces where they feel comfortable doing so. If you’ve been doing something one way for a long time, maybe a few new ideas could benefit the whole organization!
- Step away – let them fly. Don’t micromanage. That’s all. That’s the tip. If you’ve trained your team up and trust them–if you see them learning and growing–you should never need to micromanage. Just manage. And be a servant along the way.
You can read the full Entrepreneur article here.
Bear Icebox is a great place to work. If you’re a go-getter with a grasp of the media landscape and an eye for detail, I encourage you to apply for a job that will empower you to be creative and innovative for a future of highly engaging leadership skills. See what I did there?