What do managers need and want to enhance effectiveness? The same things their employees want! According to the Gallup Poll nearly one third of Americans are not engaged at work and that’s a three year high.

In the last two months I have the opportunity to have high energy, interactive sessions with 20 to 25 participants with managers, senior managers and executives to address concerns vital to them. The key is to present a minimal Power Point of information to set the stage and then to have the managers interact with each other and share ideas, that are then shared with the entire group. Using what I have learned from neuroscientists coupled with over 25 years of management experience at all levels helps. When the participants write down a few critical ideas they leave with direct applications to their own situations. This reinforces managers being servant managers and keeping the best people. I want to share with you a story from a couple of years ago that is on point.

I was a speaker at a conference with about 700 attendees. After the conference a partner in a CPA firm that headed up their 12 person valuation function in an entity with nearly 100 employees shared some concerns with me. He indicated the firm had four senior partners that had founded the firm about 35 years ago and built it to what it had become. He was one of a half dozen junior partners and was very concerned about his firm.

His group was largely made up of very competent valuers. Most were millennials. They were sharp, wired and exceptional. He was concerned that the senior partners were unapproachable by the millennials and that the senior partners wanted the millennials to go through what the senior partners went through when they came up through the ranks. That is work 80 hours a week during the filing season and see who survives. Those that survive may have what it takes to work for our firm.

The manager of the valuation function was not so sure.

These millennials have lots of options. For those employers that respect their employees, engage their employees with ways to address this type of stress, and provide opportunities in various ways, they will continue to keep outstanding employees. Employees want three things. These are:

  1. specific, timely (weekly if possible) positive, constructive, learning feedback;
  2. the resources they need from their perspective (i.e. don’t micromanage); and
  3. the chance to shine (to have opportunities to demonstrate their skills).

He saw several of the company’s future stars leave the firm over the previous two years and this concerned him. He was concerned about who was left at the firm and where the firm was going. He did not want to stay with a dinosaur. I gave him a copy of my book, The Servant Manager and suggested he take a look at some specific topics in the book. He did. He tried to make changes within the firm. That did not work. He decide to take the courage to challenge, courage to participate in the transformation and ultimately the courage to leave. This follows directly from various tips from The Servant Manager.

Unlike best practice tax accounting firms that ask employees how the team members might want to release stress and then try some of the ideas weekly within the firm during the filing season, the firm did not take any initiatives to address stress during the filing season or plan to do that in the future. The person I spoke to made this part of his mantra during the off season to plan for the heavier tax season and valuation work.

He now has his own firm. He is doing quite well. He has hired several employees including some from his old firm that he did not recruit, but who wanted to work for him, because he was such a good manager. It is important to recruit the right people, coach them properly, treat them ethically and address stress, and bring it all together to have a well-focused, engaged team.

To keep the best people focus on the three elements above to ensure you are engaged. Whether you are the manager or report to your manager, the key components of supplying timely, positive constructive feedback, not micromanaging and looking for opportunities to let others shine can do a lot to enhance your relationships and correspondingly your effectiveness with others.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]