Four ways to become a better manager

Being a manager is not the same as being a leader, it requires a different set of skills and can be complex to master. When you step into the role you move from being an individual producer to being responsible not only for your development and goal completion but also for developing everyone on your team and motivating them to achieve their goals.

This is a big undertaking and few managers are prepared for the challenge. Managers need to understand that being an effective manager depends on two things.

  1. Being able to share and have the team buy into a clear and compelling performance goal or challenge.
  2. Helping each team member understand and leverage their strengths to most effectively contribute to the goal and be engaged in their work.

Developing others can be a daunting task. With engagement levels in the US at 33.5 per cent and 13 per cent on an international basis, we have a lot of work to do in this area. This means that in a group of ten people, in the US, only three people are engaged and like their job and less than two people are engaged internationally. This is an important statistic for managers to be sensitive to when they are interacting with people on their team.

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Managers need to understand that successful outcomes can be reached through many different paths depending on what someone is good at. So for each manager this means it’s essential to customize their approach to help each person share their strengths and achieve their goals. Although this may sound simple, it’s not easy.

Four areas for all managers to focus on 

1. Understanding strengths

When managers focus on strengths, it gives people an opportunity to do what they do best every day. Gallup’s research shows that when people use their strengths they perform better at work, have more energy, are more likely to achieve their goals, have more confidence, have higher engagement levels and are more effective at developing themselves and growing as individuals.

The issue is that most people don’t know their strengths or use them on a consistent basis.

Managers can lead the way with this initiative and re-focus the conversation away from all the areas where you don’t excel to the areas where you add the greatest value. If in fact someone does have a weakness that gets in the way of success then it must be addressed. For the person who makes a lot of presentations but is not comfortable in front of a group than yes this needs to be practiced. But for the person who travels a lot and is not good with logistics and admin stuff, he or she can manage this weakness by partnering (see section below) and it does not impact their success.

Would you prefer to hear what you don’t do well everyday or what your strengths are and what you can do to use them more often?

The best managers spend time with each person on the team to help them understand their strengths and how they can best contribute to the team.

Read: Get REAL to become a modern business leader

2. Building effective partnerships

A great strategy I use while coaching managers is to incorporate a strengths based approach where we shift our perspective from what’s wrong with people to focus on what people do well. This approach helps to build confidence and engage people.

Managers need to first understand their own strengths and then identify the strengths of each person on their team (a useful assessment is the Gallup StrengthsFinder, as noted above). Once individual strengths are clear, the manager and his direct report can combine strengths to make a greater impact. For example, someone who is great at taking action and turning an idea into reality can partner with someone on the team who adds value by analysing the risks involved and thinks of potential strategies to move forward. The best teams understand how each person contributes rather than trying to make each person a jack-of-all trades.

The best teams have greater success because they build effective partnerships. 

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3. Asking better questions

Tony Robbins says the quality of your questions will determine the quality of your life. So if you keep asking why is this happening to me or why does this person always make mistakes, you will get one set of answers which lead you down an unproductive path.

Change the questions so they help you focus on solutions to move forward. For example, what role can I play to help this person be more consistent in their role? Or what would you like to do more of on the next project? Or are you clear on your role and what you are supposed to be doing?  

A powerful way to change your results is to shift your perspective and change your questions.

4. Creating clear and compelling performance goals

While goals can often be a stressful word, they are important to help people move forward, gain clarity, take responsibility and build confidence.  A few keys areas to include when setting team goals are:

  • Create a compelling why for how the goal relates to your purpose or values.
  • Make the goal specific instead of vague so the results can be measured.
  • Break down the goal into smaller steps so it’s not as overwhelming and people understand their role and can take responsibility for specific projects.

Creating powerful and clear goals that all team members embrace can be the difference between a good and great year.

(Please note setting goals takes time, you can refer to chapter four in my book, Living in YOUR Top 1%, to step through the process)

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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