Thoughts From Our Heads

Thoughts From Our Heads

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7 Steps to Becoming a Better Manager

Thursday 6th December 2018

You have done well in your role, over achieved your targets and you have been promoted to a management role. Now your role takes on a new dimension. You are no longer just responsible for your results, motivation and quality, you have other people to consider.

 

Often when people make this switch we see them making some common mistakes, these include:

 

  • still acting as an individual contributor and doing all the work themselves

  • failing to identify and utilise the talents of their team members

  • not spending enough face time with their team

  • unable to unite and motivate the team behind a common vision

  • getting consumed by processes and not focussing on people issues

 

The problem is that in a management role you suddenly have a pile of new responsibilities (and usually bureaucracy) thrown at you and you have little support in this transition to an entirely new role. You quickly realise that the same skills and abilities that got you this role are not the same things that are going to help you excel in it.


Being a manager requires a constant balancing act between knowing and questioning, executing and empowering and confidence and humility. Get it right and you can raise others up and help them to become the best version of themselves, get it wrong and you have an unhappy, unproductive team who will probably leave the company. (According to Gallup - 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their manager and not the role itself.)

 

So if you find yourself thrust into a new management role, here are some things that you can action to improve your management approach

 

1. Communicate More Often 

Lack of communication is one of the most common complaints we see from employees. So often critical information filters down informal channels or is distributed via gossip and hearsay. Make sure as a manager you are keeping regular and open communication with your team about the important issues. Rarely is too much communication a problem and especially is there is negative news it is better for your team to hear it from you.  Consider not just your individual communications with your team but also how you are facilitating communications between the team as a whole. Do you have a weekly meeting for people to share updates? Is there a way for people to regularly collaborate and share ideas? Are the team encouraged to celebrate each other’s successes? Research shows that the most successful teams are those that have more opportunities to communicate with each other. This will happen informally but by making it more structured you can also drive productive conversations.

 

Rarely Is Too Much Communication A Problem

 

 2. Get to Know your Team 

Having strong relationships (especially with our manager) is an important a part of our happiness at work. Happiness means more productivity, accountability, improved customer relationships and increased quality. Relationships are not a fussy issue, it is critical for good business. Take the effort to get to know your team and respect their comfort level of disclosure. For some people they are comfortable mixing work and personal life and others prefer to segment the different areas of their life. Being a good managers means knowing the idiosyncrasies of your team members and respecting their individual wishes.

 

3. Give Regular Praise 

Never assume that someone know they have done a good job and therefore don’t need to hear it. Praise is free and has significant benefits. More praise is linked to higher levels of engagement and reduction in staff turnover. (see research done at JetBlue for one example). For every negative/developmental comment you give you should be giving five positive comments. (This ratio also applies to personal as well as professional relationships so don’t forget to thank your other half for their efforts too!) Think also about the intension behind your praise. Praise someone for doing a good job because you want to acknowledge and recognise their efforts, not because you want to manipulate their behaviour to do more of that thing. That might be a consequence but it shouldn’t be the motivation. Intensions matter and employees will quickly realise when praise has hidden motives. Remember a little praise can go a long way so be generous with your positivity.

 

 

For Every Negative/Developmental Comment You Give You

Should Be Giving Five Positive Comments.

 

 

 4. Discover your Teams Strengths 

As a manager you are in a unique position to build a cohesive and productive team by utilising the talents of those around you. You don’t need to know how to do it all because you can utilise the skills of everyone else! You can do what you do best and allow others to develop and do what they do best. We find that managers don’t send enough time getting to know the individual talents and strengths of their team members. Look for the tasks that people do with ease, enjoyment and energy. These are likely the areas where they are talented. You can also use a talent assessment tool like StrengthsFinder to give a more specific assessment of individual strengths and how to utilise them. Failing that just observe and have open conversations about what people like to do and then allow them to do more of it.

 

 5. Give Freedom to Make Mistakes 

We learn best when we have the freedom to try things, experiment and yes even fail. Give your team autonomy, let them make decisions. Guide and support them, coach them to develop their thinking and resist the urge to always step in if you think you have a better way. This can be a huge challenge for managers who probably have the right answer and have got to where they are by sharing those answers. Part of being a manager is about accepting that it is not always your role to have the answers but to pull the answers from others. Your team need the freedom to be creative and experiment with new ideas, they will not do this is they think that failure will be punished. Share your own examples of failure with your team so they know that it is okay to be wrong. This will also encourage them to be open about mistakes with you rather than hiding them.

 

 

Being A Manager Is About Accepting That It Is Not Always Your Role To

Have The Answers But To Pull The Answers From Others.

 

 

6. Have Real Conversations about Development 

When was the last time you spoke to your team members about their development? Growth is a natural human need and if you team isn’t developing they are stagnating and becoming demotivated. These conversations should be outside of the formal process of a performance review and coming from a genuine place of wanting to see your team improve. Being a manager is essentially all about developing others. What is the next step for your team members? What are they learning? What new skills do they need? Have honest conversations about your team members growth and see their engagement grow.


Challenge The Individuals You manage To Do Better, Push Back

When They Submit Average Work And Assign Them

Stretch Responsibilities

 

 

7. Challenge Performance


Being a manager requires a concern for people and a push for performance. You need to deliver results and be accountable for the productivity of your team. You should challenge the individuals in your team to do better and push them outside of their comfort zone to deliver more than they think they can. To do this you need to have all of the above in place. You need to know their strengths so you know where to push them, you need to have open communication and strong relationships and give them freedom to run with their own projects. When you have all this you will know when people could be doing better and when they are capable of more. Challenge the individuals you manager to do better, push back when they submit average work and assign them stretch responsibilities; as a result you will see their work improve and confidence skyrocket.  


Being a manager is a demanding role with a huge impact on a company’s culture, environment and performance. As a manager you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others beyond the scope of a normal colleague. Think back to the best manager you have had and the impact they had on you. Did they inspire you, open new opportunities for you and teach you new things? Now consider how you are making the same impact for others. How will your staff remember you in ten year’s time?

 

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