All of us think we know what a good manager does. It seems like it would be second nature to help guide employees in the right direction and help them succeed. We all know what we wouldn’t do as managers, like micromanaging, enforcing petty rules, and abusing our power. There is a lot of talk lately about how people don’t leave jobs-they leave their managers. Bad managers are a caricature we all recognize. But front-line management is not an easy job. Managers are more down on their work than ever-according to a Gallup poll, only 35% of them in the U.S. are engaged at work. It’s no wonder that their direct reports are feeling the same way.
The solution for managers and employees to grow more engaged and productive is to focus on the core activities that are needed for a functional organization. What do effective managers do? If they want a successful team that produces superior results for the organization, is fulfilled by the work they do, and wants to stay in their jobs, both new and experienced managers should try their best to do these things every day:
1. Clearly and helpfully let your employees know what needs to be done-don’t assume understanding or that they should “get it,” since people have unique learning needs
2. Be transparent about the connection between what the team is doing and the organization’s strategic goals, so employees feel purpose in their work and understand how it impacts the big picture
3. Coach constantly-this means asking questions that get your team thinking, and guiding them to learn how to get the right results instead of telling them what to do all the time
4. Deliver difficult messages with respect, kindness and preservation for dignity-treat others as you would like to be treated
5. Help employees succeed at everything they do, whether at work or personal goals, and show genuine interest in the things that are important to them
6. Get a dynamic development plan in place for every employee that is tailored to their interests, needs and goals, and show a clear path toward career advancement
7. Offer authentic recognition in a way that’s valued by each team member
8. Show appreciation for what the team is doing every day-this can be as simple as saying “Good morning, great to see you!” and thanking your team members at the end of the day
9. Manage upward to make sure the team’s needs, accomplishments and purpose is clear to executive leadership and other departments, and block bad upper management (as much as possible) from impacting your employees
10. Remove barriers so employees can achieve success-this could involve challenging stale processes and norms, and being willing to advocate for your team
For a new manager who is overwhelmed with new expectations in an expanded role, this list may feel overwhelming. The response is often that there’s no time to get the basic work done every day. The truth is that it’s simpler than it looks, and often just requires a shift in how a manager is carrying out the work, instead of adding more to her plate. A good HR professional can be a partner in tailoring these goals to the organization, and with human resources support, the list is much less daunting, especially when a clear roadmap is in place for each step.
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