Most managers did not become managers because they completed a course in management or passed some test certifying them capable of managing others. There are courses, and even degrees, in management, but most managers first find themselves managing others without much instruction or guidance. So it should not be surprising that complaints of bad managers are so prevalent.
Left to themselves, most managers focus on what they think are the basics – how to set priorities, hold meetings, keep people accountable and dozens of other things that seem directly related to accomplishing tasks. As managers of people, it seems far too easy and common to focus on process over people, or worse, to put more effort into getting your team to do stuff for you and less effort understanding what motivates them to do their best work.
I believe that many managers simply have their own job description completely backward. They think, “There is a lot for me to do, so I have a team to help me get it done.” I think of my job as a manager in a completely different way, and each time I start in a new job, I inform my team of this philosophy.
I tell my team that they are not here to help me – I am here to help them. I tell them that they each have jobs that are important to achieving the vision of this company, and that I am here to help them to do their jobs better and more efficiently. To that end, these are the three things I have found that consistently create the happiest and most productive teams, with the best employee retention.
- Help them to be better – Everyone comes into a job with skills; they wouldn’t have been hired if they didn’t. But learning doesn’t stop just because you are no longer in school. Everyone wants to continue to get better at what they do, either for the pure satisfaction of accomplishment, or so they will eventually be considered for a higher level job and earn more money. Usually it’s both. I always make sure that there are opportunities to learn how to do their job better, either by teaching them myself, or by making classes and other educational opportunities available to them. For many, there are different facets of the job, and I find it valuable to learn about their interests and where they want to go in their career, so that I can help them to grow in the right areas, for their goals as well as mine.
- Remove obstacles – It doesn’t matter what size company you work in, there is always some level of bureaucracy, some cross-department communication challenge, or some other roadblock to getting things done. The more time your team can spend getting real work done and the less time they have to fight the system or wait for information, the happier and more productive they will be. As their manager, you are in an excellent position to make that happen. You can talk to your counterpart in another department to facilitate a conversation, reset priorities, and extract the information or resources required for your team to move on with their work more easily than they can. They will thank you for this.
- Praise them publicly – Everyone seeks approval or validation in one form or another. They want to know that somebody noticed what they did, and that their effort made a difference. It is too easy to just check an item off a list and move on to the next thing without a peep. You may already be praising individuals in your team meetings, but public praising goes beyond that. Tell the whole company if you can. There are two great benefits to public praise. First, the individual gets broader recognition, which reliably makes them feel better about their job and encourages them to continue to work hard (or even harder). Second, the rest of the company sees that your team is a high functioning team that gets things done. Without this, other departments may not even know what your team does. And by getting recognition for your team, there is a halo effect that makes you look good too, even if none of the praise is attributed directly to you.
When a manager works for their team and helps them shine, there are plenty of rewards to go around. The team is happier, they get better at their jobs, they are more productive, and they know that work is a place where they are appreciated. As a manager putting these tips into practice, you will also start to see greater recognition and appreciation of your own work, even if your own boss hasn’t yet learned these three steps.
Originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-easy-steps-great-manager-brian-duckering