Being a people manager is hard work, and it’s not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t matter what kind of manager you are – sales, IT, finance, or whatever – managing people takes skill, patience, and the ability to rise above…and at the same time, being accountable. I have seen some really amazing managers – and some true “train wrecks” – and the differences are vast. I sometimes can’t believe what I have seen and how some people stay in management. To that end, I want to share with you some of my observations of really great managers and how they excel.
Here they are – my tips on being a great manager.
- Leave the hubris at the door. Good managers know they are still merely human. They don’t know it all and can’t do it all. No one can work for Superman or Superwoman, and it’s unfair to expect that people will grow with that kind of pressure. Your job is not to outdo everyone else.
- Know the “secret of management.” Great managers know that their number one and ONLY function is to coach, develop, motivate, and inspire their staff. That’s it. If you think that your job is to step in and DO the job of the people you hire, then you will be at work forever. Your job is a noble one, namely to help people be as good as they can be! Amazing managers never, ever, miss an opportunity to coach people UP. Coaching happens all the time, and it can be planned or serendipitous. Finally, there is a difference between coaching and telling. Great managers get that and live for it.
- Don’t “borrow” authority. When great managers have an issue with someone, it’s going to be a real and valid one, and they will own it. They won’t invoke the tired old phrase, “I’m not the only one who feels this way” to make their concerns seem somehow more valid. This is called “borrowed authority,” and it’s a cowardly way to manage. Further, they have the courage to deal directly with the person and see this as a positive opportunity to coach and bring out the best in him or her.
- Make sure you have no skeletons in your closet. Great managers commit to a course of action knowing that their own closets don’t contain any skeletons that could backfire on them.
- Manage insecurities. Everyone has insecurities, but great managers don’t inflict them on their people. If you are looking at your staff as an extension of your insecurities, then all you will do is demotivate those around you. If a manager is threatened by his or her staff, that is a sure sign of a looming problem. Micromanagers are insecure and don’t survive!
- Stick to the facts. A truly excellent manager knows that facts are the only basis for any coaching conversation and that anything that isn’t factual just causes resentment and confusion.
- See the big picture. Great managers instill loyalty and pride in the job – and know that if they don’t, their best people will actively start searching for new opportunities. I have never heard of a manager who was rewarded for high turnover and low morale. In fact, this usually means they will be on the street soon.
- Be accountable. Amazing managers are accountable for their people, and when “push comes to shove,” they step up and defend their people, and then coach in parallel. Doing this ensures they are building consensus, engagement, high morale, and excellent work from their people!
There you have it. The tips and tactics of some really awesome managers who get it…and are the managers who are ultimately successful. They cultivate staff, and as a reward they are blessed with a staff that become long-term and high-performing contributors to the overall organization. So go ahead and try these tips…and let me know how they work out for you!