Most managers get their start because they were good workers. They get recognized as being the best performer on the team. There is nothing wrong with that, except…
Being a good manager requires a level of leadership. Without the right training and development, you might find that being a manager is a struggle.
“Management is about process. Leadership is about people.”
To reach your leadership potential, you need to be a fearless, bold, and effective coach. But where do you start? Check out these 7 strategies that will help you become the manager your employees (and company) need you to be:
Talk less, listen more
We have two ears but only one mouth; great managers should keep that ratio in mind as they help employees grow. Instead of talking at employees, use that time to listen. They all have career ambitions they’d like to achieve, but that won’t happen if managers are more focused on their own points of view.
As a manager, you should guide the discussion, but ultimately, it’s the employee’s voice that needs to be heard.
There’s something called empathetic listening. That’s when you, as the manager, are fully engaged; really hearing what the employee is saying. You not only hear their words, but begin to feel their passion about the topic. With this level of connection, you can build better trust with that employee.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”Zig Ziglar
Play to your (and your team’s) strengths
Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses can really change how you coach and give feedback. While you, the manager, might be a great verbal communicator, you’ll need to acknowledge when your direct reports may not have the same skills.
Tailor your relationship to what enables them to be the most open about their goals; if possible, leverage your learning & development solution to strategically address weaknesses and encourage their personal growth.
I’ve written before about ways to perform your own personal SWOT analysis. Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses while you engage and learn your team members’ too.
Manage teams, not individuals
Performance reviews typically look at individuals, but managers are ultimately responsible for their team’s performance. By identifying individual strengths and skills gaps, you can encourage team members with complementary skills to team up; this promotes teamwork, learning opportunities, and increases the likelihood of project successes.
For more on team performance and building team trust visit my program here. I have a whole 6-step model that defines the process for creating a team environment with high trust, collaboration, and support.
Accentuate the positive
We all know our professional strengths, but our weaknesses represent our best chance for growth. Celebrate employees’ talents, but also acknowledge areas that need to be developed. By addressing them through training, you may turn a negative into a major strength.
Also, don’t be afraid to celebrate the “wins”. There’s a strange attitude among high performers. When you win, you feel like it’s no big deal. “I was supposed to do that.” is the logic. The reality is that you cannot sustain long term high performance without taking a moment to celebrate the win.
As a manager, you need to decide on ways to celebrate with your team. Use your next team meeting to have a celebration. Cater lunch or have an ice cream afternoon. Do something to let the team know you know they deserve a celebration.
The most successful companies have one thing in common: they inspire more success by publicly acknowledging employee achievements and talents. Whether an employee earned a new certification or learned a new skill, celebrate this among the team. When team members see their colleagues being rewarded for growing, they’ll take it upon themselves to seek out development opportunities.
Give feedback frequently
Acknowledging achievement is Management 101: give feedback frequently – it means more in real-time than 6 months later – and do it publicly when appropriate.
Yet when you need to correct the occasional misstep, be direct and private about it. Just ensure you make it clear you’re talking about the employee’s action, not them as a person. Above all, honesty will make sure your feedback carries the most weight.
Learn more about powerful ways to deliver feedback by using the Big 5 performance tool.
Make performance reviews about people
Performance reviews are ultimately about blending employee goals with company strategy. Demonstrate how their efforts drive the bottom line so they feel less siloed and that their work is a big part of the company’s growth. This boosts engagement and productivity.
However, a performance review should not be limited to the annual prescribed company tools. Great managers have performance check-ins routinely. One very powerful yet simple way to do that is with a tool called Big 5. You can learn more about Big 5 here.
By following these 7 principles, you will rise above the crowd as an effective and respected leader. To receive more tips and ideas for up-leveling your game as a manager, subscribe to this bog. I’ll send weekly updates to get you going toward better performance as a leader.
Note: Portions of this article were inspired by my friends at Cornerstone on Demand, a talent development company specializing in building effective teams and leaders.