THE decisions made by managers impact the way they lead and control employees.
Those managers who seek to control employee work practices using authoritarian management practices achieve some level of employee compliance, limited productivity and poor levels of innovation.
On the other hand, academics scholars and effective practitioners recognise that the recipe for achieving high-performing employees is to reward followers based on their performance, thereby stimulating them to perform beyond expectations with transformational leadership.
According to research, by using this method managers are likely to form a constructive relationship with their followers.
Transformational leaders share some common characteristics:
- First, they provide a vision of the future of the organisation that inspires each employee to be part of achieving business success.
- Second, they are empathetic and respectful towards their employees and understand that it is their role to mentor them, and third, they role model the behaviours they want the employees to emulate.
This means that in a car sales business, the manager can not only sell cars well, they can also mentor and motivate others to achieve similar outcomes.
Few managers are prepared to 'share the pain' - work alongside their employees when demand outstrips supply and get the work done
Similarly, in a hospital, when the patient load is heavy, an effective manager leaves their work and helps those who report to them - like nurses, doctors, or physiotherapists - at key times just to show empathy, respect and perhaps role model new behaviour.
However, in the present cost-cutting climate, it is often difficult to behave as a transformational leader should. Within the public sector, inadequate budgets make it difficult to think about anything but a cost-lead approach to managing. Such environments rarely value employee relationships.
Similarly, the poor economic growth conditions in the private sector tend to promote a more authoritarian approach to controlling employees in a futile attempt to get them 'to do more with less'.
In reality, this is exactly the time to use transformational management practices.
Most managers are able to share the news about poor resources, or low demand or poor profitability.
Most managers can also provide a vision for their employees to show them the way forward.
However, few managers are prepared to 'share the pain' - work alongside their employees when demand outstrips supply and get the work done.
Some managers find it easier to ask their employees to 'take a pay cut' - but don't lead the way by also doing the same.
Evidence-based best practice in management identifies the importance of developing effective relationships between managers and employees.
An effective relationship is based on mutual trust and respect. It does not mean that employees have to agree with managers all the time - in fact, healthy informed debate can often lead to better ways of undertaking tasks or solving problems.
Effective employee-manager relationships are associated with high job performance, employee commitment and self-efficacy - which in turn are the vital ingredients that predict high employee productivity.
This is because effective workplace relationships becomes a 'resource' that keeps 'giving' into the future, thereby delivering positive workplace outputs so that in difficult times employees are prepared to do more simply because they know that their managers have given them respect and support in the past.
This act benefits the manager because it elicits obligation (to help in the future). Hence, one ingredient to achieving high employee productivity is training supervisors to develop 'constructive relationships'.