Management Success Series Tip #6: Be Human

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Earlier in the Management Success Series, we talked about integrity and the importance of being honest and open with your team.  But as we discussed, we as managers cannot always fulfill promises no matter how hard we try.  And while integrity can remain constant, the business environment can be difficult to navigate.  We as managers can make mistakes, and that’s what makes us human.

I managed an employee once who was top notch.  He worked extremely hard, was intelligent and dedicated.  He was fiercely loyal to his own employees and would fall on a sword to protect them.  His integrity was solid.  But no matter how much effort he put into his team, his employees sometimes hesitated to ask him a question, or would think twice about asking him for advice.  I could see this, but could not pinpoint the issue. Eventually, I held a skip-level meeting to talk with his reports to understand what was going on.  It was simple they said: “He will never admit to making a mistake.”

Most people would agree that they want to have a good relationship with their boss.  In contrast, your employees don’t want to work for a robot. Employees are inspired and motivated by people they can relate to.  If you’re managing a group of individuals, no matter how high you are in an organization, showing a human element helps employees make a personal connection with you.

Being human will help you be more aware of what’s going on because your employees will not be afraid to speak up.  Being human means you are forgiving, which will encourage your team to do their best and not be afraid of the occasional mistake.  Always admit your own mistakes.  Do so opening and audibly so that your team hears it.  In Tip #2, we talked about visibility.  Admitting you made a mistake is another form of visibility. Finally, being human helps create a sense of trust between you and your team since employees will feel they can communicate opening and honestly about concerns.

It may sound simple.  But the underlying key here is that effective managers get the best out of their people.  Getting the best out of your people requires you have regular, open dialog that is grounded in trust and relationships.  As a manager, that open communication and trust allows you to push and pull the levers we described in Tip #1 when it comes to your managerial influence.  Simply put, showing humanity as a manager will help you establish the strong relationships with your employees that you need to effectively manage your organization.

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