I love a soft touch. That delicate, purposeful touch that gets me ready to do the things that I need to do. Some people need a soft touch. They crave it and if it doesn’t happen, it changes how they feel about what they are doing. Often, that isn’t a good thing, especially if you are the one trying to get people ready to do what needs to be done. Keeping the mindset positive and on the right track is paramount for success…especially in business.
What is a soft touch?
In management the idea of a soft touch is referred to as a soft management style. This type of style is employee focused, which can be awesome for employees, but may have some drawbacks for the business, at least that’s what the hard management proponents say.
The way the world is going, a soft management style is important. Just look at all the articles about emotions, feeling, empowerment, being heard, and being innovative. These articles are often based on popular research studies of the time. Right now, organizational psychologists are interested in what makes a productive, motivated employee. Part of this focuses on leadership styles, such as the soft management or permissive leadership styles.
In these styles, employees are asked to contribute, to voice their opinions and concerns. They are allowed to be part of the decision making process. This has the potential to do a lot for a business:
- Innovative ideas emerge
- New leaders are developed
- Work teams are extremely effective
- Employees become more motivated and efficient
These all sound great, but unfortunately soft management has the potential to also cause chaos in a business if a leader for a specific group or task does not come forward. Even though there is this potential downfall, a business that uses soft management can excel and become a leader in their specific niche.
What can help a business with soft management excel?
Have regular one-on-ones
You might think you can’t afford to have regular one-on-ones with your employees, but in reality you can’t afford not to.
One-on-ones are an important aspect of the manager/employee relationship. They clear up any confusion the employee might have about what is expected of them, their roles, responsibilities, and any issues they might have.
One-on-ones also help an employee feel valued, can motivate them, encourage them, and empower them.
Know what is going on
Even though you’re a soft manager, that doesn’t mean you sit in your office all day oblivious to what is happening in the business. You have to know what is going on, how the employees are doing, how the projects are going, and what issues might have arisen.
This is why one-on-ones are also important. This gives you the chance to know what is going on and figure out a way to correct and problems.
Understand your employees
Employees want to be understood. The best way to help employees feel understood is to communicate with them. This can be done during a one-on-one or at any other time. Just communicate. Learn to talk to your employees and find out what is going on that might impact their work. If an employee seems as though they are having difficulties, ask why. Do they need time off? Are they having trouble with a coworker? Are the tasks they have confusing?
Work towards understanding because this will help mitigate potential problems.
Being soft doesn’t mean that you allow your employees to walk all over you. What it means is that employees are given the opportunity to work the way they most successfully work. They are allowed to develop skills, such as leadership, that will help enhance the business. They are allowed to be innovative, which can only help the business excel.
Soft management has the potential to help your business be awesome. Look into it!