4 Ways to Turn Employees Struggling With Bad Habits Into Rockstars

Being a manager isn’t just about helping your business succeed — it also involves helping your employees grow and thrive. As a business leader, you’ve likely encountered employees who are transitioning from companies with less-than-stellar cultures. Oftentimes, this results in bad habits that are tough to break.

Poor managers can lead to toxic work environments, and employees often pick up bad habits like this when they’ve spent their careers being bullied, pressured, or undervalued by their teams. But that doesn’t mean these employees are lost causes. With the right feedback and support, they can learn to embrace a new working style that benefits your business and their careers at the same time.

A Supportive Place to Land

Transitioning to a new company is hard enough as it is, but it’s even more difficult if the employee has learned bad habits from previous organizations. It takes time for these employees to learn how to work in a supportive and trusting environment, and it’s important for leaders to meet employees where they are.

Get to know your team members so you know how they best handle new information. For some employees, you need to all but shout it from the rooftops to get them to understand. For instance, I once worked with an employee who had a difficult time listening to feedback, and I had to sit down and have a brutally honest conversation with him so I could get my point across in a way he would understand. For others, however, the gentlest approach can kick them into high gear. How you deliver information can sometimes be even more important than the information itself, so make it count.

Fostering a supportive, collaborative work environment can also help new team members overcome bad habits. Allowing them the autonomy to make big decisions, work from home, or take on leadership projects can work wonders in showing them that they are valued and trusted. Encouraging them to mingle with their co-workers in an informal setting can also help them feel as if they belong and foster creativity at the same time, making it a win-win scenario for your team.

Becoming a Coach — Not Just a Leader

Creating a supportive work environment and making employees feel valued is part of any leader’s job, but helping your team members become the best they can be is a job for a coach. To ensure you’re doing everything you can to help your employees grow, there are a few things to consider:

1. Create a culture of learning.

By making continued education opportunities available, you prove that you value your employees and are willing to invest in them. After all, any workplace is only as good as the people who show up every morning (and the skills they bring to the table).

First and foremost, however, you have to commit to continuously improving your own skills. That lead-by-example attitude will seep through to your team members and encourage personal growth, despite any seniority.

2. Leave micromanaging at the door.

As a boss, you have to delegate. But how you delegate can make or break your team’s spirit. Explain tasks clearly, and clarify how they play to an employee’s strengths; then — more importantly — give her the space to put those strengths to work.

As leaders, we like to think we aren’t micromanagers. But micromanaging is easy to do without realizing it. Check yourself, and trust your team members to do their jobs. Even better, let them make some mistakes so they can learn and adapt.

3. Connect tasks to larger goals.

Be honest with yourself when you’re assigning tasks. Ask yourself whether the task has real value or is just busy work. When the tasks you delegate have a clear connection to the team’s overall goals, your employees will understand their purpose and be more motivated to see them through.

It also shows your team members that you want to use their time wisely rather than give the impression that you’re delegating just because you can — something they may expect based on previous experiences.

4. Don’t get stuck in your rabbit hole.

It’s easy to get so lost in the stress of trying to get through your own to-do list that you forget to give your team important updates. But the satisfaction of completing your own to-do list never quite pays off when your employees aren’t able to use your progress to get their own tasks done well. Trust me when I say that they will appreciate being in the loop so they can do their jobs more efficiently. Everyone wins.

Above all, when the corporate world throws a great employee your way who’s just a little rough around the edges, don’t underestimate your ability to be the one who can help her. You never know — that employee may turn out to be your next rock star.

This post originally appeared on Ellevate and was shared with permission.

Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses, and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. She is one of the top strategic communications professionals in the country, with more than 25 years of experience in corporate communications and an exceptional track record in protecting corporate reputations and redefining perceptions in key areas of business.


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