5 Things You Can Do TODAY to Be a Better Manager
How to Become a More Effective Manager
Our employee survey scores just came in. The results were about as poor as you could imagine. Employee engagement scored a 58% overall. Communication came in at 50%. Management Effectiveness across the business: a whopping 61%. Only six out of ten employees see his or her manager as a good leader and motivator. To make it more eye-opening, these values represent an average decline of 4 points from the last survey taken just two years ago. My peers were clearly perplexed. “How can employee morale be so low when we spent so much on upgrades?” “Maybe because it took us 3 months to get the vending machine fixed?” someone asked. I quietly turned over the sheet in front of me containing the scores from my department, so that no one else could see them. I am proud to say that my scores from my specific function was significantly higher (by about 30% each) than the business averages, suggesting that my scores actually brought the overall scores up to their dismal levels. I offer this information not as a pat on my back, but as a way to express how dismal the situation really is.
Many of my peers on the senior staff have been leading teams and managing people for over 20 years. And, yet, the scores suggest that this experience was still unable to create an enjoyable work environment. The business director stepped up to the front of the room and somberly embarked on having the discussion about the situation and what we could do.
As I sat back, listening to the discussion, I quickly realized how much my counterparts were struggling to come up with sound actions to make improvements. There were comments like “I meet with my employees each quarter to get some face time. I’m not sure what else they want.” “My team does not have the skills to do more, so I can not give them added responsibility.” Then there was my personal favorite “All my employees do is complain about their workload. Maybe I’ll give them the action to come up with a plan to resolve it.”
The conversation was disappointing and enlightening at the same time. Did no one else see the obvious gap between what the survey said and what was being offered as resolution? Why are my scores so much higher? What am I doing that others are not? Over the course of the dialogue, I offered my thoughts on how my peers could do to be better managers, because as a team, we were clearly falling short. So I decided to offer the same ideas to our readers. Here is my list of the 5 things you can to starting TODAY to become a better manager:
1. Set Up REGULAR One on One Meetings
How much time do you truly spend with your employees just talking about their career, their growth and the challenges they are dealing with? The better managers I know – as measured by their employee satisfaction ratings and the results they achieve – remain dedicated to meeting with their employees on a regular basis. I recommend you do the same and set up monthly one on one meetings with each of your employees. Doing so gives you ample time to meet with employees over the course of the year, but allows sufficient time to pass between meetings for the discussions to be meaningful. Maybe the one on one meetings need to be rescheduled from time to time, but the point is that they are scheduled as recurring events. The key to holding a good one on one with an employee is to have just a few agenda items to get things started, and then to let the rest of the time serve as an informal conversation. For more on holding one on one meetings and coaching your employees, CLICK HERE.
2. Construct a SWOT Evaluation of Your Team
The best managers out there are constantly evaluating his or her team for its strengths and areas for improvement. This behavior is not just a once-a-year thing, but again, a recurring activity. To give you more structure in your team assessment, consider creating a SWOT analysis for your organization. A SWOT Analysis is an activity in which you brainstorm and critically evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) to your organization, from the perspective of your competitors and customers. A SWOT analysis will help you identify various aspects your team that need improvement as well as target the skills your team needs to bring better value to your customers. It will also tell you what you do well such that you can stay ahead of the competition. But how does a SWOT analysis of your team make you a better manager? Simply put, a SWOT analysis arms you with the playbook and focus you need to make your team operate on a whole level.
3. Look at Development Plans
Developing your employees is an essential activity for modern managers. Why? Because justifying increases in headcount has gotten so tough. Thus, your first line of defense is to make the people you do have more capable. Effective managers know that to get the best results, they need to get be most out of each employee through individual development. Even if you don’t buy in to the philosophy that part of a manager’s job is to develop his or her staff, your employees will demand it. In the modern business world, employees no longer see the work they do just as another job, but rather a career. Your employees want opportunities to learn, develop and grow both personally and professionally. Better managers know this and deliberately carve out plans each year to help employees sharpen their skills and learn new things. So, talk to each of your employees about their development. Your one on one meetings are a great time to do this. Ask them point-blank “Do you think you are learning?” to get a clear answer. When setting up development plans, follow the 70, 20, 10 rule as a simple management framework for employee development. If you want to read more about employee development, CLICK HERE.
4. Reduce Your Focus RIGHT NOW
Unfortunately, many of today’s managers suffer from what I like to call the “overprioritization” of the workplace. You know what I’m talking about. Everything is important. You have to get your employee’s goals documented. Be sure to spend at least 30 minutes week cleaning your workspace. There’s the audit coming up that you need to prepare for. You’ve been asked to interview some job applicants over your lunch hour. Finally, your metrics are non-negotiable, but the customer is still #1. The best managers around know that if everything is important, than nothing really is. Further, the best managers you encounter know how to set priorities and focus their team’s energy around the top 3 or 5 things that are truly critical to the job. Why does focus make for a better manager? 3 reasons: First, by reducing the focus on the few critical items, these managers are concentrating energy behind a handful of key items. Doing so ensures they get those few key things done, and done well. Second, in order to reduce the focus, such managers must be great communicators and good at managing the expectations up the food chain. Again, this behavior ensures your employees can keep focussed on what’s really important. Third, managers who are able to control the focus and prevent employees from getting overloaded build loyalty and trust with their teams. Over time, employees will go above and beyond for these managers out of this mutual respect.
5. Publicly Recognize an Employee TODAY
Effective managers recognize and embody the concept of recognition. Many managers make the mistake of seeing recognition as a fancy awards banquet. In reality, effective recognition of an employee is simply taking a few minutes to publicly appreciate the efforts or contribution of the individual, or individuals. While it can be in the form of a nice recognition dinner, it could also be as simple as a shout out in a staff meeting. The better managers you will find in today’s workforce will follow a concept called ‘Gamification’ when it comes to effective recognition. The general idea behind gamification is that your reward and recognition of employees should resemble that of a game and an acronym known as S.A.P.S. – Status, Access, Power, Stuff. Just as if you were to play a video game with friends, your quest and motivation is set by the things you can achieve by your performance, such as adding points to your score, gaining special access to things, and collecting the stuff you can find along the journey (armour, weapons, food, etc). The same logic applies to employee rewards. Taking your employees to lunch, earning an extra day off, a promotion and cash awards are all great examples of how you can apply the S.A.P.S. concept to employee recognition.
Looking for more ways to be a better manager? Learn five new ways to lead you overseas employees.