Have you ever heard the saying “Do as I say, not as I do?” This is a particularly problematic mantra no matter what the situation, but one place it should never come into play is the office. As a manager, you can expect that no matter what rules are buried in the employee handbook and no matter what employees are told at their first day orientation, it’s how you as a leader act that sets the tone for the office and shows employees what is acceptable and what is not. It may seem ridiculous to boil Corporate America down to a game of “monkey see, monkey do,” but every office is filled with managers and the employees that strive to emulate them. As a role model, you must set the standards and live by them yourself, and you will have a harmonious workplace where everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.
If you establish the dress code as business professional yet you frequent the office in a polo and khakis, you are projecting the wrong image to your employees. From casual “shirt and jeans” workplaces to “suits and shined shoes” offices, no matter what the office dress code, employees tend look to their superiors for guidance. This goes both for general clothing right down to the tiny details. You can’t get mad at Joe in accounting for his tie not being straight if your shirt is not tucked!
If you set an 8 am sharp start time for your employees but waltz in with your Starbucks coffee around 8:45 every morning, you are setting the expectations that the 8am start time is more of a loose guideline than a steadfast rule. If that is how you feel and you are okay with a bit of flexibility, that is fine. But if you expect a hard start for your employees, you better be following one yourself as well.
If you want the workplace to be a more relaxed environment where employees are free to converse and joke, then lighten up and jest with them from time to time. But if you want it to be a completely professional environment, you better straighten your own laces. The same goes for language. If you use profanity in the office, your employees will soon think it is okay for them to do so as well.
Quality of Work
It is the hope and assumption that each and every employee gives 110% and does their job to the best of their abilities each and every day. However, the reality is that this is another area where people tend to look at the quality of work and standards set by their superiors as the benchmark to hit. Take your own projects and duties seriously and execute them the way you want your employees to, and they will quickly follow suit.
Core Values and Mission
As a manager, you not only project the expectations and values of yourself, but of the company as a whole. Each company should have a set mission it operates by and values it aligns itself with. If your company core values are centered around service to others and teamwork, you must make sure your actions are in line with these specific values so they are engrained in your employees as well.