Never forget to tell people when they're doing well. Also, get to know people. Ask them about themselves at lunch, after work. Keep it light but let them see the more human side of you. Before you leave, ask someone about their plans for the weekend. Organize an outing once in awhile, invite families to a barbecue.
Save punishment for people who actively defy you with insubordination. Make them understand what impact their lack of initiative has on the entire team. Explain the impact of their actions, such as: When I see you staring out the window, I worry that you're not getting your report done, I need you to focus on how to do that by five o'clock."
Quantify the results of the job, not the actual activity involved so that employees will know what they're working towards.
Managing Face Time
Many managers are still managing by keeping track of face time, the time that people actually spend in the office. But in the information age, especially with younger workers, it's a good idea to consider quantifying what you really want them to accomplish and judging by results, not just time. Many studies show that younger workers want the flexibility to work remotely and be judged by results.
Many managers are reluctant to consider this approach. Because I'm an attorney, I'm asked to do a lot of consulting projects for law firms, many of whom are having trouble keeping their best young associates, especially women. When I suggest that they allow attorneys who have done well the privilege of working at home or other out of the office locations, many older partners are horrified. We might need them for something!, they cry.
Never mind that most legal work these days, even in-office conferences, is conducted over the phone or the internet. Never mind that attorneys keep track of their time in tenths of an hour, so it's very easy to quantify who is working or not working. The resistance to change remains strong in many professions.
Even if you don't decide to loosen up on where the work actually needs to be done, however, you'll benefit from setting specific, measurable objectives for the job. These need to be results that are quantifiable, easy to understand, and that everyone can agree on. Of course, these objectives should actually add value to the organization. Employees - especially the best and the brightest - rebel eventually against busy work. Maybe the slacker you're trying to shape up isn't lazy but just bored or failing to see the larger meaning in what you're asking them to accomplish.
Lynne Eisaguirre is a former practicing employment attorney whose media credits include CNN Headline News, ABC News, Bloomberg TV, U.S. News & World Reports, The Boston Globe and The San Francisco Chronicle, among many others. She presents speeches and workshops on management issues to clients such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Harley Davidson, Sun Microsystems and Southwest Airlines. You can reach Lynne at www.workplacesthatwork.com .