The Road to Becoming a Better Manager
Managing people can be one of the hardest, most stressful parts to any job. You spend countless hours each week trying to ensure all your ducks are in a row, but then one employee doesn’t show up for their shift, another employee wants more vacation days and your favorite employee up and quits out of the blue. Yep – It can be downright mentally exhausting.
As you shake your head and wonder if it’s always going to be this way, you ask yourself: “What am I doing wrong?” While it might seem like you are failing, you might not be doing anything wrong at all. But maybe it’s time to build your people management skills by making small changes to your mindset and your perspective on problems.
While the road to becoming a better manager isn’t any easy one, there are a few steps you can take to not only improve your work performance, but your team’s performance as well.
- Become a Coach
“Great managers know that their number one and only function is to coach, develop, motivate and inspire their staff. That’s it,” says Todd Cohen, co-leader of Career Transitions. “If you think that your job is to step in and do the job of the people you hire, then you will be at work forever. Your job is a noble one, namely, to help people be as good as they can be.”
While it might seem easier to wear your farmer hat instead of your coaching cap, solving your employees’ problems for them won’t solve your management problems. Instead, give them guidance, advice and listen to their concerns. Helping them figure out the answer on their own not only helps them grow, but it can also help you get back some of your own time.
“Amazing managers never, ever, miss an opportunity to coach people up,” Cohen says. “There is a difference between coaching and telling. Great managers get that and live for it.”
- Focus on Alignment
A key part of managing your team is to ensure that they understand how their jobs and actions directly align with business goals, according to Tim Stobierski, a marketing specialist for Northeastern University.
“Knowing how and why what they do matters to the company as a whole helps to create a sense of shared responsibility and can improve employee engagement in significant ways,” Stobierski says. “Transparency with your team about goals also helps workers understand that targets are not arbitrarily chosen.”
- Be Accountable
When it comes to leading an efficient team, mangers need to be held accountable not only for their actions, but the actions of their employees as well.
“Amazing managers are accountable for their people, and when ‘push comes to shove,’ they step up and defend their people, and then coach in parallel. Doing this ensures they are building consensus, engagement, high morale, and excellent work from their people,” Cohen says.
- Give Performance Updates
Giving regular performance updates helps keep your employees on track and has been shown to boost morale. Take time to speak with your employees individually and let them know what they are doing right and what they could improve on.
“It isn’t enough to measure progress towards your goals; you must also communicate this progress to everyone involved,” Stobierski says. “Performance updates allow everyone to understand whether or not you are on track to hit the goals you have outlined. Regularly give performance updates to everyone involved—both stakeholders and those you manage—so that everyone knows how you are progressing towards shared goals. In the event you are not on track to hit your targets, this allows the opportunity to make necessary adjustments to either improve performance or scale back expectations.”
- Practice Makes Perfect
Becoming a great manager doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, commitment, and practice.
“Real, hands-on experience in the workplace is a critical piece of becoming an effective manager, as on-the-job training and time spent in a managerial position will allow you to slowly earn the experience you will need to be a successful manager,” Stobierski says.
Remember, it is a tremendous responsibility to have the opportunity to lead other team members. With time and continued practice, you’ll be able to improve the overall performance of your team.