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1. Recognize that employee happiness is important.
Don't fall into the Don Draper trap and think that money alone will buy loyalty. Sure, it's still a rough job market, and no, you're not their mother or their best friend. But you're more likely to retain top talent if they like coming in to work every day. It's as simple as that.
2. Give your people control over their lives.
What's the difference between happiness and gratification, from a management perspective? The latter offers employees what they want at the moment -- more money, usually -- while the former offers a chance to participate in the development of one's own (hopefully satisfying) career.
"Employers should look for ways to give employees more control over their schedules, environment, and/or work habits," writes April Shetone at Inc. "For instance, employers could offer alternative work schedules such as flextime or telecommuting. Today's employees have demanding schedules outside of work, and many workers appreciate a boss who considers work-life balance. Because every person's obligations outside of work are different, customized schedules are a great way to improve employee satisfaction."
3. Be honest.
Want trust? Be trustworthy. This doesn't mean divulging privileged information to employees who aren't "need to know," but it does mean, at minimum, not lying to people. Remember that most people, probably yourself included, are bad liars -- but at the same time, most people are also pretty good at sniffing out a lie from others.
4. Be open.
No one likes to hear criticism, especially when, as managers, we tend to get it from both sides, above and below. Don't be defensive. Even if the delivery leaves something to be desired, the complaint might be valid. Don't cut yourself off from good information.
5. Get rid of bad managers.
Some bad managers are easy to identify. They're the bullies, the credit-takers, the blame-shifters. Others take a bit more time to find. When you do realize that a manager is problematic, don't waste time. Retrain or replace. The longer you leave an ineffective management structure in place, the more likely it will become part of your corporate culture.
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