Manager, Team Lead, VP, CXO – whatever the role of the captain in question, there’s only one thing that the team craves for irrespective of their roles and that is Job Satisfaction. Mind you, these are highly driven people we’re talking about. Professionals who have worked their way up to their current positions and are more than capable of excellence. Yet they crave for that new challenge, that ‘AHA moment’, that little excitement every now and then or that unexpected pat on the back – all contributing in some small way to their love for the job. Are you as a leader aware of this small but significant need to boost employee morale?
It is all about encouragement and inspiration more than simple direction. Especially so when managing knowledge workers – those who know more about a particular job than you do as their leader. In leading today’s knowledge workers, it is important to invert the pyramid and look at leadership vis-à-vis the wants and needs of the professional—as opposed to the skills of the leader. Sample this truth – leaders may be judged more by the gifts they provide than the gifts that they possess. That’s when you will lead teams that love their jobs and actually display genuine desire for excellence. Here are some tips for successfully managing knowledge workers:
•Encourage their passion
Gone are the days when professionals worked 35-40 hours per week and took four to five weeks of vacation – then it was not so important that they loved what they did. But when professionals are working as many hours as they do today, it’s crucial that they love their work. Professionals need to look forward to going to work in the morning. That’s why today’s leaders need to look for, support, and encourage passion in their professional employees. Leaders also need to “lead by example” and demonstrate this same passion.
•Enhance their ability
Help them update and refine their skills. Job security has decreased and global competition has increased so it is critical for your team members in maintaining professional careers. Help them look beyond the skills needed for today and learn the skills that will be needed for tomorrow. That is when they will feel that they have a leader who cares for their overall growth and not just about meeting deadlines and numbers. After all, top professionals will often be willing to accept less money for more growth and loyalty will be gained through learning—not just earning.
•Value their time
In today’ fast paced world, we as professionals have less disposable time and therefore the value of time increases. As leaders, it is imperative that we do not waste our team’s time and create bitterness or irritability. It is hard enough working 50-80 hours a week and doing what does matter but it is incredibly painful to work that much and then end up wasting time on things that don’t. Leaders will need to increase skills in protecting professionals from things that neither encourage their passion nor enhance their ability.
•Build their networks
Easier said than done you might think but leaders benefit from expanding their team members’ networks and ensuring a feeling of security. By enabling professionals to establish strong networks both inside and outside the company, organizations can gain a huge competitive advantage and the loyalty of their workers. Besides, professional networking enables people to expand their knowledge and bring back new knowledge to the organization. More importantly, their loyalty to former employees helps lead to loyalty from future customers.
•Support their dreams
The best professionals are working for far more than money. They have a dream of making a meaningful contribution in their field. Give them the support they need and you will have their unflinching support and loyalty. So ask yourself what you can do to help your team members achieve their dreams starting today.
•Expand their contributions
Two of the most important needs of hard-working professionals are happiness and meaning. Leaders need to encourage passion to create an environment where people are happy and want to come to work. Leaders will also need to show how the organization can help the professional make a larger contribution to the world. Remember that is the individuals that make a team, the team contributes to the organization, the organization shapes society and society transforms the nation. Many of us seek out opportunities to make a contribution outside of work. Why should this be the case? Why can’t professionals make a positive difference from inside of work? No one wants to put in endless hours on trivia. That’s why wholesome and inclusive work systems are the need of the hour.
Before we sign off, here’s something every leader would love to see from his team members – until next time, happy leading by loving your job!