Ways to be a Better Manager
Being a manager is tough. You’re constantly in meetings, putting out fires, and dealing with people and projects competing for your attention. As you become more reactive to these things, it becomes harder to do the things you know you should do.
Often, it’s small, meaningful gestures that have the greatest impact. Think about how much more you appreciated the small, thoughtful gift as opposed to a check, or how a hand written thank you note made you feel.
As a manager, you have the opportunity every day to make your team members have those feelings. In the time it takes you to read this post, you can bring joy to and inspire your team. I hope you’ll try at least one of them today and see what kind of reaction you get. If you have a good story, share it in the comments!
Learn the names of the most important people in their lives
One famous quote, “No man is an island.” Your employees are not islands, either. They have connections outside work that make them uniquely who they are. Taking the time to know them by name to ask about them from time to time or to greet them by name if they are visiting the office will score you major points.
When you learn the names of those people that matter most to them, you show you care about them as a complete person. This builds rapport that will help you with difficult discussions with them and make them trust you more as their manager, especially if they’re having a personal issue affecting their work.
Always make your one on ones actionable
It’s good to talk about issues and what’s on your team member’s mind in one on ones, but that alone does not accomplish much. Every one on one should be actionable.
Take what’s discussed and identify what both of you can do to make progress on the issues. Maybe it’s buying them a good book on a subject they want to learn about. Or it could be giving them advice on how to handle a situation and having them try it and report back the results next time. Whatever it is, setting action items and discussing what the results were next time creates a very gratifying feeling of progress by small wins that engages and motivates team members.
Do one thing to help them achieve their long term goals
When the work that you’re doing is aligned with your long term goals and what you want to achieve, you are most motivated and excited. It’s easy to get bogged down in day to day duties and lose sight of that progress. Don’t think that just because someone’s goals aren’t aligned with their work that you as their manager cannot help them.
Often times, employees want to learn about new areas of the business, or add a new skill that would open up new career opportunities. This is where you have a chance to shine. Give them even a little bit of help achieving those goals outside their day to day work and watch their excitement and commitment grow.
I once had a team member doing business development and sales, but she really wanted to get into product management. We didn’t have any projects for her in that area and really needed her help in BD. So instead, I spent 1 hour a month talking to her about anything she wanted to know about product management and occasionally bought her good books on product management. Her productivity and passion for her BD work skyrocketed despite only a modest time and financial investment in her passion for product management.
Praise is fuel for the engine of great work by your team. Give them specific praise on something they did well and you will see more of it. Fail to recognize their efforts and they will diminish with each cycle of work.
Research reported at the Review showed that the highest performing teams had a ratio of nearly 6 positive comments to every 1 negative one:
If you want to see more great work from people and better attitudes, praise is the key. Consistently giving the praise ensures your ratio relative to criticism stays high.