Motivate, Don’t Dominate: A Manager’s Guide

UAB Collat School of Business stated it perfectly: some managers or leaders find it difficult to manage properly, without overexerting their powers or becoming overbearing. Oftentimes, managers forget that a large part of their job is to provide the tools and techniques their employees need in order to do their job effectively and efficiently. Rather than build up their employees’ skills and motivate them to do well, they end up pushing them away because of overbearing tendencies that manifest through micromanagement, negative or toxic attitudes, and an unhealthy dread for work.

So, how can you motivate your employees without dominating them? It’s simple. Here’s how: 

1. From the moment you meet your employees to the moment they leave as former employees, treat them like humans.

This may seem obvious to some, but it’s something that a lot of managers can forget if power starts to go to their head. Remember to call them by their preferred names, to address them politely and give them the opportunity to showcase their personality as individuals. It’s important to remember they are more than a numbered person in a sea of corporate life. 

2. Take the time to properly train your employees, but understand that they will (eventually) need to branch out on their own.

A great way to motivate your workforce is to give them the tools they need to succeed and the opportunity to do so. Remember that you are there to be a guide for them, like training wheels on a bike. But much like a bike with training wheels, eventually they have to stand out on their own. Try your best to pick up on verbal or body language cues that signal they are ready to stand on their own, without their boss holding their hand along the way. 

3. Challenge them, but don’t set them up for failure just to teach them tough love.

This is another common mistake managers make when dealing with their staff members. Of course, your job as a boss is to teach your workforce lessons that will set them up for long-term success in their careers, and yes, sometimes that means tough love. But, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t always have to be the toughest lessons that teach us the most. Remember to scale back your expectations of your employees and challenge them when and if appropriate, but only if you believe in their ability to succeed. Ultimately, if you challenge them inappropriately, it may cause them to have low self-esteem and trust issues with you in the future, which will, in turn, backfire on you.

4. Guide them towards their purpose with their career.

This one sounds a bit cliche, we will admit. But think about it—no one wants to show up to a job that they feel doesn’t really matter. We all want to feel wanted, needed and appreciated. Remind them that their efforts make a difference, whether that’s in your community or in your company, and remind them of why they were chosen to do this job.

5. Recognize hard work when you see it.

Sometimes the best way to motivate your employees to continue working hard is by acknowledging the hard work they have already done. If you see an employee doing something well, remember to communicate that to him or her. Our biggest tip: don’t assume that they know how much you appreciate them, but rather assume that they want to be told every now and then. Of course, we also encourage you to strike a balance between applauding them for a job well done and sounding condescending whenever they finish a task. Remember to reward them (if possible) and to mean it when you say ‘thank you.’

These are just a few of the tips we have found helpful when trying to motivate, engage and build a team of hardworking individuals. When you find the right balance between being there for them and giving them the independence they deserve (and long for), you will ultimately have an unstoppable workforce, filled with gratitude and determination. 

What will you do to set yourself apart as a manager? 

Motivate, Don’t Dominate: A Manager’s Guide



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