Managing others is a challenge. It always has been and it always will be. If you are lucky, you have worked for a fabulous manager. Someone who was fair, competent, pleasant, and understood how to create a motivating work environment. There are four reasons that people end up in management positions.
· They took a test and scored well on the test. This method is typical in civil service organizations. A police officer takes a test to become a police sergeant.
· They were born into the family business.
· They were a fabulous individual contributor so they received a promotion to manager.
· There was no one else available to take the management job.
Most managers are not promoted because they have fabulous management skills. Most managers improve their management skills by trial and error. If they are lucky, they receive some training and/or mentoring along the way.
Here are 48 ways to be a better manager.
1. Develop trust. Nothing happens without trust. Employees won’t do what you need them to do unless they trust you. Customers won’t buy your product or service unless they trust your organization. Co-workers won’t become a high-performance team if they don’t trust each other.
2. Be flexible. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. In some situations, you will need to use the command and control style of management. For example, when an emergency occurs someone needs to take charge quickly and decide what to do. Other times, it will be appropriate to support and empower employees to make their own decisions. Managers who micromanage every situation and exclusively use the command and control style are not liked by subordinates. You must adjust your management approach for the situation.
3. Be fair and respectful to every employee. Do not play favorites.
4. Manage your time effectively. There are 168 hours in a week, no more and no less. Create a daily to do list and prioritize the list. Determine if there is anything on the list that can be delegated to someone else. Spend your time on value added activities that are tied to your personal, professional, and corporate goals.
5. Delegate. Poor managers have all kinds of excuses for not delegating. I can do it better. I can do it faster. I like doing this task. I don’t have time to delegate. When you learn to delegate, you will be more productive and will develop your staff.
6. Be a role model. Your employees are paying attention to your behavior. If you yell or curse, your employees will think that it is okay to yell and curse. If you arrive late for work, your employees will take advantage and arrive late. You represent your employers every day.
7. Create a motivating work environment. Employees are motivated for their reasons, not for your reasons. Figure out how to create an environment that is motivating for everyone. Try implementing a rewards and recognition program or offering flex time.
8. Celebrate success! Say thank you for a job well done. Appreciation goes a long way.
9. Give consistent feedback. Let your employees know how they are doing. One of the biggest mistake’s managers make is not sharing timely feedback. A once a year performance discussion is not enough.
10. Communicate more and communicate better. Communication is creating understanding which involves sending a message and receiving the message. Make sure your employees know what is going on in the organization. Share the vision. Deliver concise, clear messages. When you deliver a presentation, have a clearly defined opening, key points and closing. Don’t assume that sending an email is sufficient communication.
11. Write right. Edit your written messages. Make sure that punctuation and grammar are correct. Do not use CAPITAL letters and/or BOLD letters to yell at an employee via email.
12. Host a daily huddle. A huddle is typically 15-20 minutes. Invite your employees to get together and share daily updates so everyone knows what is going on.
13. Be enthusiastic. If you can’t get excited about your organization and the work that you do, don’t expect your employees to. Have fun.
14. Communicate clear performance expectations. Employees should know what is expected from them. If an employee is not doing what he/she is supposed to be doing, coach them to improve their performance.
15. Become a better listener and use empathy. Active listening shows that you truly care about what the other person is sharing. Remember that the one who talks the most, learns the least.
16. Be open minded. There is more than one way to do just about everything. Your way isn’t the only way.
17. Replace using why during an employee conversation. When you ask an employee why they did something, they get defensive. A better way to ask would be to replace the why with a neutral work. For example, instead of asking “Why did you do that?” you could say “Help me understand what you were thinking when you did that?”
18. Be present. When an employee is talking to you, look at them and pay attention.
19. Use positive, hopeful language. Tell employees what they can do, not what they can’t do. What will work, not what won’t work.
20. Know the difference between coaching and counseling. You should coach employees to improve their job performance. You are not there to counsel employees about their personal problems. Refer employees with personal problems to your EAP (Employee Assistance Program)[i] or to the Human Resource department.
21. Set stretch goals for your employees. One part of your job is to develop your employees, everyone has untapped potential. Identify the potential and push employees to learn more, be more, do more. Ask open ended questions instead of telling others what to do. For example, “How do you think we can solve this problem?” What solution would you recommend?”
22. Remove obstacles for your employees. An obstacle can be a person, place or bad process. Make sure that you help employees reach their goals by removing any obstacle that gets in their way.
23. Develop your replacement. No one is irreplaceable. Figure out where you want o be in five, ten or fifteen years and create a plan to get there.
24. Value each employee for their uniqueness. You cannot discriminate based on race, religion, national origin, age, sex or any other reason. There are five culturally diverse generations in today’s workforce and each generation has a lot to offer. Embrace the differences.
25. Learn interviewing skills. Having a great workforce starts with hiring the right people. Use behavioral interviewing techniques and ask open-ended questions during the interview. Hire employees who are competent and have a fabulous attitude.
26. Learn how to run a meeting and don’t be boring. When you schedule a meeting make sure the meeting is value added: create an agenda, start on time, and invite employees who need to be at the meeting. One of the biggest time wasters for managers is attending too many meetings with no action steps.
27. Embrace virtual meetings and be flexible.
28. Build your network. Managers need to influence others. You need to take the initiative to build your network online and in person so that you can influence others. Identify who you need to meet, then invite that person to lunch or ask them to share a cup of coffee.
29. Use data. Almost everything can be measured. Use data to improve processes and performance.
30. Understand the bottom line. As a manager, you need to understand how the business generates revenue and stays in business. Money matters!
31. Be a champion of change. The only thing we really know about change is that it is inevitable and constant. Some employees thrive on change and others hate change. Your job is to encourage everyone to move forward and manage the change. Manage the momentum as the change effort moves forward.
32. Develop problem solving skills. Problems can be solved using rational problem solving and/or creative problem-solving methods. Left brain people tend to use rational problem solving exclusively. Using creative problem-solving techniques can lead to innovative solutions. For more on creative problem solving read any book by Roger von Oech or Edward DeBono.
33. Create a personal action plan for your own development. There are always opportunities to learn new things and do current things better.
34. Develop a high-performance team. Nothing great every happened because one person did something. Behind every great accomplishment is a team of dedicated people moving towards a common goal. Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to the United States because she had a team of people on her boat and in the water in front of her paying attention to her. You are as good as your team.
35. Learn from your mistakes. No manager is perfect, you will make mistakes along the way. Own the mistake and keep moving forward.
36. Ask for help. No one expects you to know everything, there will be times you must ask for help and direction from your boss or from a colleague. Whatever you do, don’t be arrogant and abuse your position. Power and position can corrupt!
37. Identify your stress busters. Managing people can be stressful, especially when employees don’t do what they are supposed to do or things don’t happen in the correct order. Learn how to reduce your stress and take care of yourself.
38. Pay attention to your health. You are no good to anyone if you are sick. Eat well, exercise and create a healthy balance in your life. You are entitled to time off and vacation days. Use time away from work to reenergize and relax.
39. Have the tough discussions. There are certain situations that might make a manager uncomfortable but your job is to address the situation with tact and professionalism. If an employee has body odor and you have received complaints from other employees, you must have the discussion about body odor with the employee.
40. Be visible. Make sure you know all your employees by name. Let them see you, don’t hide in your office and eat lunch at your desk with your door closed.
41. Stay relevant. Know what is going on in your business and in the industry. Become a voracious reader and a lifelong learner. Follow your business on social media and stay informed.
42. Manage conflict quickly. Sooner or later there will be conflict in the workplace. Don’t ignore the conflict, deal with the conflict as soon as possible.
43. Be ethical. Do the right thing. You will encounter employees who gossip and spread rumors. Managers are expected to be honest and adhere to strict standards of confidentiality.
44. Use good judgement. There is no play book for every circumstance that will occur during your time as a manager. Follow you gut and make the tough decisions.
45. Move out of your comfort zone. The pace of change in the workplace is increasing and managers need to embrace a growth mindset because we don’t even know what we don’t know. Every day there is new technology and more and more artificial intelligence.
46. Strive for win/win outcomes.
47. Have a back up plan. Things don’t always work out the way that you want them to work out for a variety of reasons. Have a back up plan, a plan B, a contingency plan.
48. Have fun! When you enjoy your work, others will enjoy working with you
[i] An Employee Assistance Program can help employees with personal problems such as drug addiction, alcoholism, mental health issues, etc. Most large employees have an EAP. Regina Clark, CSP is an author, corporate trainer, international speaker and owner of Creative Performance Solutions, LLC. She has delivered management training programs in 40 states and five countries. Her newest book, PIVOT Principles – Strategies for Conquering Change, is available on Amazon. For more information, go to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-294-7089.