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What's the Difference Between a Leader and a Manager? Building Better Employee Retention

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Think back to the best boss you have ever had. You know, that one that made you feel like you could conquer the world.

We've all had at least one, and they probably all have one thing in common.

They were leaders.

Whether you are a leader, want to become one or are looking to hire one, it's essential for retention that you have good leaders and good managers. The first step is knowing the difference between a leader and a manager.

Difference Between a Leader and a Manager

It might seem like these two things are the same, but they aren't. It can take us time and training to learn the small, but big, differences.

These nuances can make a huge difference in the retention of employees.

So What is a Manager?

As a manager, you focus on goals and give employees direction on how to complete those goals. As a manager, it's your job to make sure the team simply hits its numbers and follows the policies that are already set.

When you're are doing your best managing, you're trying to imitate your favorite boss, and it works for a while.

Managers learn how to tell people something, be direct and not hurt any feelings along the way. It's important that you make sure your employees feel appreciated for all of the work they do for you. A little bit of gratitude can go a long way.

But even as a great manager, you might notice that your teams aren't always happy.

Not only that, but you might start to lose chunks of them. Granted, it might be easy for you to shrug your shoulders and say it's because of things outside of your control.

But that's not always the case.

You're doing your job, setting up the procedures and workflow and meeting all of the goals. But in reality, you aren't being a leader. You're being a manager.

This is why having strong people in both positions is so important. You need that balance in order to have a successful, productive workplace.

What is a Leader?

As a leader, you don't just give direction, you motivate your teams to find it themselves. To be a real leader, you need to stop mimicking what your best boss did and adapt it to your leadership style and the people you're managing.

Being a leader means focusing more on what is important and less on how to complete it.

You want to be someone who inspires and influences your team to come up with the processes on their own. Your teams will work hard for you if they feel like they are a part of something. Once you start to engage your teams during your day to day processes, they become happier and a loyalties start to grow.

In fact, it's that same loyalty that you tried to achieve by mimicking the best boss you ever had.

For some people, being a leader comes naturally, while for others it takes some time to hone. The best leaders have a way with people that can bring out their skills and qualities that they didn't know was there.

Using Leaders to Retain Employees

We've all heard the expression people don't leave companies they leave managers?

Well, they don't leave leaders.

When your employees started to feel a bond with you and the company, they started to stick around for a longer time

Leaders can't just sit back and rely on the skills that you already had. If you are going to help motivate and grow your teams to improve, you as a leader have to continue to grow as well.

You have to learn how to coach your employees, not just be the enforcer of policies. This means looking for teaching moments. Maybe he didn't mess up the files because he was moving too fast, maybe it was a lack of foundation. A leader takes advantage of these types of situations as a teaching moment to do better.

Taking the time to coach shows the employee that what they do is appreciated. Coaching allows you to build that loyalty day in and day out. Then your employees will begin to see that you have their back.

How to Lead Millenials

Sounds great, but what about those pesky millennials?

Guess what, it'll work for them too.

We all know the stereotypes that follow their generation, but in reality, they just need better leaders. They can be strong-willed, but if you listen to and inspire them, they tend to be fiercely loyal.

Yes, that might mean listening to requests that you might not be able to meet like nap pods and coming in at 11 a.m. They want a strong work-life balance. And if we can give a flexible schedule, we should. If an employee is happy then he or she will work harder and stick around longer.

That doesn't mean answering every request, but it does mean showing your employees that you're listening and making an effort to make them happy.

If you give them room to grow and a little bit of nurturing you might be surprised by how great a millennial employee can be.

Hiring a Leader

Maybe the nurturing and inspiring thing isn't you. Your business still needs someone to fill that spot.

The role of a leader is important. This person is going to have a big impact on the company and the employees. That's why when you're hiring and looking for that person to take on a leadership role, you should ask some tailored questions to make sure that they are a good fit. You don't want someone to come in and change the company culture or direction your company is headed.

Asking them about a time when they could have done better as a leader can give you a good idea of their leadership style and where their head is at. If they can recognize what they have done wrong in the past then you can be more confident that they will continue to learn and grow.

How they give feedback is another important thing to find out during the interview. You always want to make sure that the person you are bringing in has a similar style to the company. This person will influence your employees, who will hopefully become leaders themselves.

Why You Need Both

So, what is a manager left to do? It's rather simple, almost like Ying and Yang.

Leaders paint the big picture. They allow teams to come up with solutions on their own. They swoop in and inspire teams to be better and strive for more.

The manager keeps employees focused and hitting their numbers. The managers help to make sure that those solutions are put in place and followed.

It's important that you know when and where to use each of these people. You need both to keep the retention rates high, with too much of one people get burnt out and unhappy.

Forbes estimates that between 60 and 70 percent of employees don't work to their full potential. This causes a few different problems, but either way, it means we are wasting money on wages on bored employees that will soon turn into ex-employees.

When you have good leadership and management skills you can help to resolve this problem. With leadership skills, your employees are inspired to be more productive. On the other hand, with management skills, you can control the workflow.

If you put the wrong people in a management or leadership position, it can create a ripple effect well beyond their individual role. There's little to nothing you can do to keep your employees if the wrong people are taking on those roles. There's always coaching, but it needs to be done sooner rather than later.

Managment and Leadership

There is a big difference between a leader and a manager, but both are important in retaining employees.

We have to be able to provide our employees with both, whether it's us switching back and forth or making sure that we hire the right people for the roles.

Hiring the right people can make the biggest difference in keeping your employees happy and productive.

If you aren't positive that you are picking from the right pool of people, or aren't sure how to find someone to fill either role, contact us. We can help you get that perfect person to motivate and inspire your team.

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