[December 10, 2013] One of the more interesting things about people is that we love structure in our lives. From having that cup of coffee in the morning to watching our favorite television show – humans crave structure and predictability. Leaders who help create structure in the lives of their employees will be more successful leaders.
It is easier to adapt when people know and understand what is expected of them and what rewards are given for specific levels of performance.
The lesson for leaders who help create structure for their employees, is not new. I first recognized this as an important aspect of teaching when I was working on my graduate degree and taught some of the university’s large introductory courses.
There were a number of us graduate students teaching and each of us was evaluated on our teaching ability, in part, on how well our students rated us. I discovered that those graduate instructors who were specific about what chapters students were to read, required class attendance, demanded they be on time and prepared for the class, and a host of other specific requirements, were also the best rated and best liked.
Conversely, my peer graduate students who felt it not important to control the “flow and direction of intellectual discussion,” were not rated or liked as well by the students in the course. This appeared to be the case regardless of how smart or productive the graduate instructor was in the classroom.
This information is perhaps not new to teachers. But many leaders do not yet know that creating a structured environment in their organization also helps creates predictability and lowers anxiety for the employee. Importantly, it also helps with establishing trust and confidencein the leader.
All leaders should recognize and use this understanding of human psychology in the workplace to improve worker productivity and ultimately help their organization’s mission be successful. Establishing structure is one of those things leaders can do.