You’re a Leader, but You’re Not Moses
Stop Calling Co-Workers “My Staff”
It is true that staff will generally do what they’re told to do, simply because it is what they are told to do. However, if you want to be a good leader, you have to do so by setting the example. That starts by respecting those who you manage enough to call them your “co-workers”.
While it is true that managers manage staff, it is truer that managers can get more out of staff by encouraging them to, and then allowing them to do their best. It may seem like a small thing, but referring to people as “my staff” can have a connotation (or undertone) of ownership, or “I’m in charge”. Even if your co-workers don’t take offense to it, it may come across as disrespectful to others outside the organization. Others that may hear you refer to staff as such.
In a previous blog post titled I’m Not the Most Important Staff Member, we discuss being humble and how the hospital/clinic for which you work, may not miss you if you’re gone, but it will feel the impact of one of your co-workers being gone. Along those same lines, if you allow staff to do what they do best and encourage them to do it to the best of their ability, it will actually be done with more enthusiasm and likely better than if they are told exactly how and when to do it.
Let’s use a specific example. You identify a staff member who does a good job on her own social media sites and you decide to turn over the hospital’s social media accounts on a trial basis to her or you go outside your staff and hire someone for this position. You give them very specific instructions about what to post, when to post, how to post and what not to post. You are specific in how many posts per day, and you limit how often to post. You lay out these “rules” for each social media platform, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, etc. Sure they do a good job, but could it be better? The short answer is “yes”. The longer answer is “it could probably be way better”. In this scenario, you’re Moses; too much direction.
Let Them Take Ownership
Let’s now approach it differently. You have identified the same staff member that you want to turn your hospital’s social media over to but instead of giving all the criteria as before, you lay out the ground rules, but simplify them. Instead of how, when, how often, simply explain the ultimate goal in your posts. Is your goal engagement (includes “likes”, comments, link clicks, etc.)? Is it followers? Or, is there another goal? If you don’t know the purpose of your posts, you should figure this out before you hand this off to someone else.
Set some basic rules; original photos only, a mixture of shared posts (from other sites) and original posts (from your own site) or simply your own graphics with text. Perhaps you want to limit the number of posts to five per day, perhaps you only want one per day. This really is up to you, and you have to figure out what works for you and your hospital. You may want to explain the composition of photos or what you’re looking for, such as watching what is or isn’t in the background. Keep the rules simple, and allow, and in fact, encourage this person to take the reins and be creative with it, unless you want to be generic and have all photos and posts look exactly the same. Give an example of the number of posts per day; 2-5 on Facebook and 5-8 on Instagram, maybe you want more on Twitter?
Set up a weekly discussion initially and put it on your calendar, but reduce this meeting frequency as you become more comfortable with how they are handling this task. Follow up with positive feedback (more than negative), but provide constructive criticism as well.
Note: Don’t be too quick to judge their results. Give them time to work into their new role and after they get into a “groove” you’ll start seeing positive results. Likely these results will be better than what you have been able to achieve yourself. The good news is, you still get credit for any improvements. As the manager, all positive results are a reflection of you and your leadership. The same is true of the negative, but once you see how well this works, you can then move on to the next project that can be delegated to another co-worker.
Once you have delegated a few tasks that take up a good deal of your time, you’ll quickly find that new free time you have created will be filled with something else. That “something else” may very well be that task that you’ve had on the back burner for the past 18-months. You know the one that you have been meaning to get to since you thought of it initially.
Your staff will respect you more when you respect them enough to do the job they can do without too much oversight and when you refer to them co-workers, and not “your staff”.
This action item is an easy one, stop calling your co-workers “My People” or “My Staff”. And, do it today. It really may be that no one is bothered by it, but once you change how you view them, and they see you as sincere in this, the environment may change because you view them differently. You will soon find out that they will follow you anywhere. Maybe not 40 years in the desert, but they’ll follow you where you want to take them in business.