“Welcome to management!” It’s with those fateful words that all your dreams of the executive washroom, free car space and a limitless corporate credit card ends and reality begins. The reality is you’re now setting the standard for your staff and good managers learn a few lessons as they develop. So today I thought I’d share some insights into these lessons.
Practice effective communication skills. It isn’t easy but communication is the most important skill a manager can possess. How many meetings have you been in where you’ve seen managers appear bored and uninterested or seemingly oblivious to the questions being asked by employees? How did that make you feel – inspired or demotivated? So learning that lesson means that every communication with your team is important. Be an active listener and remember positive body language and energised tone of voice are just as important as the content.
Share the strategic plan with everyone. OK, maybe not the cleaner. But always remember you’re on a business journey and the best way to convince staff to positively contribute is to let them in on where you’re headed. Don’t let pride or ego get in the way of making business life easier. Being the manager doesn’t mean you’re the only person who has to come up with solutions to achieve objectives. The more people thinking about the problem will often deliver a better solution, sooner.
Set realistic expectations with all staff. Don’t assume that every staff member will automatically know what is expected of them. You have the option of setting up a performance system with each staff member that includes personal goals and regular meetings or you can include performance expectations as part of the induction of new staff. Remember if this hasn’t been done, and a staff member isn’t meeting your expectations, it will result in conflict, staff turnover and reduced productivity.
Get to know your staff. If you’re helping them to achieve their personal and career goals it’s a win-win outcome for both of you. It also helps you to understand their circumstances if they’re facing a major issue in their personal life that’s impacting their work. That being said, be friendly but not familiar as familiarity makes potential future disciplining situations much harder.
Lead by example. Your staff will see how hard you’re working and if they understand the business goals you’re trying to achieve, it’ll increase their motivation and productivity. Make it a habit to talk to staff on a regular basis, have team lunches and ask them for feedback on the business. It’s very empowering for a staff member when they see that you have listened to them and used one of their ideas – especially if you acknowledge it as theirs.
Learning these lessons and having a positive relationship with my team members has been far more rewarding than a title on my card or the mythical possibility of scented soap in the executive washroom.
But what about you? What lessons have you learnt? What is the key to being a great manager and leader in your business?