Why does it seem that good management skills are so hard to come by? Possibly because few people are actually provided training in people-management when they are promoted. The reasons behind promotion are also suspect…
In July, I attended a Strengths Finder Live meetup at the San Francisco office of 34 Strong. Gallup’s Jeremie Brecheisen explained how only 1 in 10 people possess the natural talent to effectively manage others.
Employees are usually promoted because of success in a previous non-managerial role, or because they have significant tenure at a company or experience in a specific field. Jeremie reminded us that management is a responsibility, not a reward.
No amount of education is going to help people that have no business managing others. This post is for you, the lucky few who are blessed with natural management skills like assertiveness, relationship-building, and the ability to motivate others.
Starting off on the right foot is important, especially where professional relationships are concerned. Here are some tips for improving management skills right out of the gate:
Have regular one-on-one meetings. Get to know the history and aspirations of each employee. Learn who is helpful, who is honest, and who may need extra support.
Set short, clear, achievable goals. Establish time lines and benchmarks to measure progress. Help people understand how their careers, lives, and the world at large will profit from their contributions.
Turn your reports into ambassadors. Look for opportunities to share their accolades with other departments, by holding training sessions, publishing newsletters, and emailing success stories.
by: Caitlin Schiller
Great managers do more than oversee roles and responsibilities, they inspire people and are highly focused on employee development. Caitlin distills valuable lessons from some of the most influential leadership books ever written. Here are some juicy takeaways:
– In Getting Things Done, David Allen shares how actual tasks that you have to accomplish belong on your “Next Actions” list, never in your calendar. You can address them, dispatch them, and then move on to other pressing matters.
– In Search of Excellence tackles one of the most difficult tasks for any manager, letting someone go. A poor fit can be a destructive force and even have a negative impact on the employee himself. Firing quickly, fairly, and with generosity is the best way to keep the company moving and retain the respect of the remaining team.
by: Kristin Burnham
In this piece, Scott Abel shares his advice for fostering transparency, trust and loyalty. For example, Scott stresses the importance of keeping your door open to employees. But this needs to be a practice and not merely a policy. Leaders need to either listen on the spot, or immediately set-up a time to continue the conversation.
According to Scott, open-door policies help foster trust and openness on the team:
Trust is so critical. You want to get to a point where employees walk into your office and say something isn’t working. You want them to give you that feedback honestly and openly – and fast so you can fix it. If you team is scared or intimidated by you, you won’t get that.
Many companies are successful at assembling productive teams based on their technical abilities, but the less quantifiable, “people-building” element often tends to get lost. With the right management skills, leaders can anticipate and alleviate some of these common risks to team success:
Establish the “Why”. Clarify the importance of a project for each employee and how it fits into the company’s overall goals. Take time to answer questions at the very beginning, and give everyone a chance to talk about how they feel about what they’re about to undertake.
Communicate Directly. When someone’s behavior causes conflict, ask questions instead of making judgments unless you see the underlying cause as the main issue that needs correcting. If that’s the case, focus on the cause, not just on the incident. Be careful not to superimpose your own impressions on the situation, since it’s always possible that what you observed wasn’t what the team member intended.
by: Sara McCord
Mmmmm…humble pie. While it’s nobody’s favorite dessert, managers need to eat it from time to time. You may be worried that an error will make you appear unqualified, but covering it up can make you appear dishonest and untrustworthy.
Sara suggests apologizing if necessary but recommends picking your battles. You don’t want to say sorry for every little thing that happens because that could take away the potency of apologizing for a major error.
Another helpful tip is to offer a forward-thinking solution along with your confession:
I realize I haven’t been sharing feedback with you outside of your annual review. I know that makes it harder for you to do your job — and it’s my job to help you, not keep what I see as areas for growth or praise to myself until January. It’s a mistake I’d like to rectify by scheduling times for us to discuss progress more regularly.
Even those of us who are born with the raw talent to manage others can use help supporting people to become the best versions of themselves. The common thread in all of these articles is that clear, authentic communication is paramount. Focus on that, and your employees are sure to joyfully give their best every day. That’s the mark of a truly great manager.