Sometimes we question if we are doing a good job or if we could be doing a better job and it helps to have a few reference points to fall back on in times of uncertainty. A truly proficient leader of staff will understand that guiding them is all about personality – because you are effectively managing personalities, not merely ‘staff managers’ or ‘part timers’ – and yet you must lead them despite their personalities.
Difficulties can arise when you realise that you don’t really bond or connect with everyone who reports to you, but in your capacity whether you bond with them or not, your obligation to manage them remains the same. In turn, the way you lead your staff can affect the productivity of your self storage business and its overall success.
Leadership involves many aspects under your control and some beyond your control such as: creating targets and effectively communicating to staff how you will go about achieving these targets, rallying them, motivating them, assisting them and encouraging them so they will successfully aim to reach those targets. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? The challenge is to remain flexible and approachable while maintaining your authority. Employees value being treated fairly and with respect – and you will certainly get more productivity from them if you fulfil this basic human need.
Assessing yourself as a leader:
1. Seek feedback from staff
It’s all in the way that you do it – whether it be in casual conversation or a scheduled meeting. Asking for feedback on how you communicated something or advice from those whom you lead can be quite illuminating. Leaders should not be so self-conscious or arrogant that it prevents them from seeking an honest perspective from people. Besides, asking for advice can actually help you gain the respect of your staff.
2. Get educated
There are various leadership books, seminars and/or conferences you can attend or find on-line in order to improve your skills, and give you the much needed inspiration you need to go from being a good leader to a great one. Arm yourself with the know-how: you won’t know what you didn’t know until you learn it! Updating your skills keeps you humble and open-minded and more equipped to deal with staff matters.
At the team lunch or staff meeting, make sure you move around the table. Don’t just sit next to or talk to the people you always do. Don’t make it a point to single anybody out but make it a point to include everybody. Maybe not all the time, but at the next meeting or even, focus on people who you did not focus on last time and make a connection.
4. Regular contact
This might sound left of field, because working together provides a natural day-to-day contact. Despite this you might want to think about having group meetings once in a while or regularly (once a fortnight) to discuss workplace goings-on or issues. This allows for lines of communication to be developed and opened, leads to better working relationship with you and your staff and amongst themselves too. A veil of remoteness helps no-one and should be avoided at all costs. It’s all about contact and connection.
5. Know your work environment
The environment you all work in is the place where work gets done (that’s obvious)! But the right mix can lead to staff taking direction more easily and more productivity. The balance is the key ingredient. Too little support, and staff are less likely to communicate with you and more likely to establish their feelings through negative means. Too much of a casual environment means that not enough work gets done because it is un-motivating. Too much pressure means that employees become tense and feel expectations are unrealistic. As the leader, it is your job to establish the right balance for work ethic and light-hearted interaction.
6. Lead by your example
If you spend all day on your mobile taking personal calls, if you attend work in your sloppy gym clothes, if you show up late to scheduled meetings – staff will inevitably form a preconceived idea about how you operate and in turn, what you expect from them. If you expect staff to behave responsibly and with integrity (especially when you are not around) then you should lead by example.
Your staff look to you, on how to behave in your self storage business. Demonstrate the work ethic you expect through your behaviour.
7. Same rules for everybody
Never allow your ‘star players’ to get away with murder. You should enforce team rules at all times for everybody. It takes a gutsy leader to take a stand and stick to it, when staff are behaving disappointingly or taking advantage because they have been praised regularly in the past and it sends a message that you are not playing favourites.