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Mastering employee management: 4 best practices

Learn how to optimize your business and motivate employees through effective employee management. Learn employee management best practices for strong communication, acknowledging top talent, harnessing available tools, and promoting growth opportunities.

Content team
Content team

Content manager Keith MacKenzie and content specialist Alex Pantelakis bring their HR & employment expertise to Resources.

employee management best practices

What are employee management best practices? While the details can vary depending on industry and business needs, these four principles summarize employee management best practices for every business.

1. Regular communication and feedback

Your employees need to know what is going on, what plans are underway, and what struggles the business faces. Without this knowledge, they can’t make the best decisions in their sphere of responsibility.

So, managers must provide clear feedback – both negative and positive – to ensure that employees know what they need to do. Managers must provide this feedback in clear and effective ways. It should mirror the SMART goals. If feedback isn’t measurable or timely, it isn’t clear feedback.

Telling an employee, “That was a horrible presentation,” doesn’t help them make a better presentation next time. Telling an employee, “that was a great presentation,” is nice but, again, it doesn’t highlight the things that work.

Make sure your feedback is, at a minimum, specific and timely. “Your slides had so many typos. Please ensure you have someone else proofread before you present next time,” is a specific item that someone can act on.

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2. Acknowledge top performers

Top performers often work independently, and managers are relieved not to have to directly manage them, opening up the bandwidth to focus on the lower-performing employees. There’s a side effect of this, however – this can result in top performers feeling unappreciated or unsure of their abilities.

Even top performers need feedback and acknowledgment that they’re continuing to perform at a high level. And it is critical that you create career plans for top performers.

Unless they say they don’t want to move up the ladder, you should assume they do. And while it may be difficult to lose a top performer from your department, it’s worse when they leave the company altogether.

Focusing on the top performers, giving them growth opportunities, and rewarding their high performance are all critical management jobs.

Related: What is employee management?

3. Use the best management tools available

There are employee management tools everywhere. Of course, employee management software helps you keep track of everyone’s progress and helps you identify areas of concern. But you also need solid training programs for managers and employees alike.

Why is training an important part of this? First of all, training is part of employee development. But second, and more importantly, employees leave managers, not companies. You’re neglecting your most important tool if your managers don’t receive proper training.

Related: What’s included in a good employee management strategy?

4. Identify opportunities for development and progression

While each individual is ultimately responsible for their own career progression, they don’t necessarily know what they need to do to advance. Additionally, they may not know what is available at your company. Good employee managers help develop employees.

Developing employees includes giving stretch assignments and providing cross-training opportunities. A best practice is to use a skills-gap analysis to determine what skills your employee needs and what skills the business will need in the future and then match the two of those together. Sometimes this can include formal education or training outside the business.

Your employees want to succeed. Helping them to achieve their goals benefits your business and your individual employees.

Remember, it’s almost always cheaper to bring your employees’ salaries up to market rate than to replace them.

By focusing on employee development you decrease your turnover and increase your performance. It’s time and money well spent.

The day-to-day of good employee management

It’s easy enough to say you want things to be better, but you have to do something about it, and if you want your goals to be SMART, you’ll need to be able to measure improvement.

Ensuring good management is difficult for any business, but especially as your company grows beyond the original start-up crew.

You’ll need to place more trust in managers you don’t necessarily interact with every day. And you’ll need to make sure your managers follow procedures.

One thing that can help refine your employee management practices is employee management software. This can help automate mundane tasks, remind people to follow up, and give a central location for plans and progress.

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