- Team management doesn’t get easier or more predictable
- Countering doubt with development; perfect yourself with seven skills
- Try to choose one people management skill to improve each quarter
It’s a new year. And there is a lot of work to do. But somehow your team doesn’t seem as excited as years past. Some struggle with burnout; others don’t know what to prioritize. Some feel directionless – and perhaps seek employment elsewhere.
For managers, this climate presents new plans, goals and expectations. The unknowns, however, are many. The one constant, it seems, is the need to adapt to a changing business environment. Work, life and “professional life” have never been so disrupted.
Your job as a manager has probably never been more difficult – and at the same time, your strong leadership has never been more necessary.
What management skills should you focus on developing this year?
Using data from the world’s top performers across three decades, hundreds of professional roles and a variety of industries, Gallup discovered the seven skills needed to succeed in any role, in any profession. , in any industry – from the front line to executive leadership .
Read more about it in He’s the manager.
While such skills are typically used in HR departments, they can also be used as a simple “rule of thumb” to assess yourself and perform better in your role.
Let’s see how these seven skills can be applied to being a good manager:
Build relationships. Build partnerships, build trust, share ideas and get the job done.
Managers are in a unique position to facilitate powerful partnerships. They can see the biggest network of talent that individual contributors can’t see, and they have the power to build innovative teams. In turn, employees have the support they need to perform — and the connections they need to feel energized and resilient. When looking at the work to be done, consider creative new partnerships within your organization that could lead to extraordinary success.
develop people. Help others become more effective through strengths, expectations and coaching.
When there’s so much work to do, it can feel like there’s no time for development. This is why managers must adopt a “development through work” perspective. Ask, “How can I embed development into core tasks, so that in a year from now we’ll be a better team?”
Change of track. Embrace change and set goals that align with a stated vision.
Although change happens to everyone, each individual experience changes differently. A change in process, schedule, goals or resources can inspire some while discouraging others. Managers are responsible for translating the meaning of change to the individuals in their teams. And the best managers are able to anticipate concerns.
But, perhaps more importantly, change is an opportunity to dive deeper into relationships and get to know individuals better. It is an invitation to ask important questions: How do you feel about your job? What do you need to be successful? What kind of support would be helpful?
Inspire others. Encourage others through positivity, vision, confidence, challenge and recognition.
Many managers love being managers because they love people. They may have discovered that inspiring others comes naturally – well, until about 2020. The pressure and fatigue of your team is real. But acknowledging others and generating positivity is even more important now, even if it requires new tools and a new commitment.
Remember: Meaningful recognition happens when you have intimate knowledge of someone’s work. Go beyond resources. Understand what it takes to get their job done and what makes it meaningful for them. This perspective can help you communicate that each individual is seen and valued – and in turn, create a work environment where employees also recognize the efforts of others.
Think critically. Gather and evaluate information that leads to smart decisions.
One of the rewarding aspects of being a manager is being “in the know” about what’s going on in your organization, through leadership-level friendships and partnerships. You become a clearinghouse, bringing knowledge from across the organization to the people you lead.
But it’s also important to remember your responsibility to bring your team’s potential questions and concerns at the top to leaders. This is important information for leaders – and your employees need their opinions heard. Great managers ask difficult questions of their superiors, knowing that they will have to answer these questions from their teams in the future.
Communicate clearly. Share information regularly and concisely.
Gallup research consistently reveals that frequent conversations between manager and employees are critical to employee engagement. This is doubly important when dealing with remote and hybrid workers, who depend on frequent feedback to feel engaged and ready to do their jobs. Of course, the quality of those conversations matters too. Sometimes managers may think they communicate well, but employees don’t know what is expected of them.
Getting good communication is perhaps one of the hardest parts of management – simply because, in the real world, asking someone, “How do you want to receive communication?” does not solve the problem. Communicating, really communicating is an art. It takes practice.
Create accountability. Hold yourself and your team accountable for performance.
When we hear the word “accountability”, we often think of performance measures or evaluations. A much better way to think of accountability is as commitment and ownership. When people are engaged in their work, they feel accountable to others and to themselves. When they take ownership of their work, they take responsibility for the outcome. For managers, creating team accountability is about instilling a sincere sense of belonging in every contributor.
The fastest way to generate personal ownership in someone is to give them work that they enjoy doing and naturally do well. When there’s work to be done, ask, “Who’s good at this?” Who would jump at this opportunity?
Don’t try to improve all of your team management skills at once.
If thinking of seven things to do, in addition to a hundred other things, sounds like a lot to you, here are some tips for getting started:
Choose one of seven skills to focus on each quarter. When you read this list and rate yourself, which item gives you the most trouble? Or which do you consider most important for success in your particular role? Focus on one skill at a time.
Apply your talents to build strength in each area. If there’s an area you’re struggling with, you might think, “I’m just not good at it…and I probably never will be!” This is a sign that you are approaching your development by focusing on your weaknesses rather than your strengths. If you already know your top five Clifton strengths, think about how you can use them to approach each skill. If you don’t know your top five, take the CliftonStrengths assessment.
Recognize that the eternal rules of management still apply but the playing field has changed. The past few years have turned the traditional workplace upside down, and that includes management styles. Each of these skills means something different in practice than it did in 2019. Think about what “success” for each means now in a disrupted (and regularly interrupted) workplace.