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If Managing People Were Easy…Everyone Would Do It! Part II

Managing people is not easy. In most businesses there are certain processes and procedures that must be followed; and in many cases flexibility in how you handle human resource issues is just not practical or feasible. If you haven’t read Part I yet, please read it first. In Part II we’ll look at some ways to reward staff when additional monies are not available for increases in salaries or for bonuses for a job well done.

When you can’t reward your staff with a bonus or raise for their hard work or can’t offer them a promotion, try any of the following:

For those who are doing an outstanding job:

  • Let them know they are doing a fantastic job.
  • Send them an email with a cc to your boss and others on the leadership team commending their outstanding work on a particular project or task.
  • Praise their work at your next department meeting.
  • Talk to HR about the possibility of offering a comp day to thank staff for staying late or working on a weekend or consider personally offering a small token – such as a $25 gift card to a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts as a “thank you” (assuming your company permits this).
  • Write a note for their employment file that acknowledges their efforts.

For those who need more challenges:

  • Assign them to take the lead on a department project – such as redesigning processes or planning a department event.
  •  Ask other managers if they may need some help for a few weeks on a project – this enables your staff to learn about another department.
  • Ask them to be a mentor to a more junior individual in the department, or see if another department manager could use a mentor for someone in his department.
  • Talk with the leadership team about the possibility of the individual serving on a larger organizational project as a team member.

When you have to manage employees who are disengaged, bitter about the company situation or just demoralized and dragging down others with them, try the following:

Have a one-on-one conversation with the individual. Listen to their side of the story and understand why they are frustrated, hurt, demoralized, etc. Your goal here is to empathize with them. You may not be able to resolve the situation (for example, if the individual is just working harder than usual because of reduced staff or projects with shorter timeframes), but you can help them understand if it is a short term situation or something they have to be prepared for since it will be long term. Ask what you can do to help alleviate the situation. Sometimes you can do something, sometimes you just can’t. But certainly you can have a conversation with your own boss about the situation and problem-solve it together. The last thing you want is for good people to walk out the door because they do not feel valued or they are overworked.  You do have to tackle immediately individuals who are dragging down others with them. I want to stop this behavior right away. These individuals can be like poison within the organization.

I try to help these individuals however I can – either by suggesting they take a bit of vacation time to relax or seeing if I can get them some help (sometimes you’ll find you have one or two people really overworked and others who are not as busy and could certainly share the load) or ask HR to find them help if it is a personal problem. But my primary goal is to stop the spreading of the negative attitude.

Sometimes, however, it is just time for people to move on. When it becomes apparent that the individual is just better off elsewhere, I want to help them to make that transition before they become a real problem within the department. I support them either by helping them find work within the organization somewhere else, or helping them to find work outside the organization.

Back to our story which we started in Part I. My new friend was going to go back to her office after the conference, personally thank her staff for all of their terrific work and take them out to lunch to celebrate! Her goal – be sure they feel appreciated before she has to deal with “bad apples” within the department.

How about you? What do you do to manage others in challenging situations? What have your managers done or not done? What are your best practices? Please share your stories with others in the Comments field below. Thanks!

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