Perhaps the best way to judge your success as a manager is by the success of your employees. With all the work your team has to do on a day-to-day basis, it can be dangerously simple to find yourself slipping into the role of managing projects and delegating assignments without really helping your people develop. However, the best managers are not necessarily the ones who can extract every last ounce of productivity from their people, but the ones who produce great future managers.
How can you be sure that your best people will someday be top-notch leaders themselves? You can start by checking out the following basic, yet effective tips for being a better manager and developing managerial skills among your employees.
Start with motivation.
The easiest way to show your people how to be a good manager is not by shipping them off to a seminar – it’s by being a good manager yourself. And it all starts with your attitude. Stay positive about your company and your team’s role in its success, provide encouragement and inspire your people to do their very best work. If you are charismatic and motivating, rather than cold and demanding, your team will produce more for you in the short term and will emulate your techniques once they are put in a position of greater authority. Remember, everyone wants to be successful – it’s up to you, as manager, to create a winning environment and make your employees believe that they play a major part in your company’s achievements.
In addition, make sure to give your people the same amount of respect you would give your superior. If you place yourself on a pedestal above your team and demand their respect, chances are you will experience the opposite effect. Remain humble, stand up for your people when necessary, give credit to your team when it is due and never publicly criticize an employee’s performance. If you treat your employees like your teammates, they are more apt to come together as a team – and you will increase the likelihood that they will take these lessons with them when they move up to a managerial position.
Part of being a good manager is being able to listen effectively. So, get out of your office more (or keep an open-door policy) and communicate with your people! It’s the most effective way to find out what skills they need to take their career to the next level.
These days quicker, more convenient forms of communication, like e-mail, have taken the place of quality face time. However, if you really want to know how your employees feel about you, the company, and their job, take the time to sit with them, look them in the eye and have an actual conversation. You’ll find that facial expressions, tone of voice and body language (in other words, things you can’t see in an e-mail) will tell you just as much about an employee’s state of mind as their words (perhaps even more). Learning what each employee wants to get out of their job will help you determine who has the makings of a good manager and who still may need some guidance.
Another surefire way to help your employees advance their careers is by telling them exactly what they need to do in order to get ahead. Be clear about what your employees' responsibilities are and share with them how these responsibilities will contribute to the overall success of the company. In addition, always keep employees in the loop about what you think of their performance – good or bad. Being open and honest with your people will help them feel more involved and empowered and will better prepare them when the time comes to manage a team of their own.
Once you have established yourself as a master communicator, make sure you stress the importance of good communication skills among your people. Let them know that, during their performance appraisals, they will be evaluated on how well they communicate with colleagues and people outside your team.
Provide enough preparation.
An effective career development plan is essential to help your people hone their skills and advance their careers. Whether you decide it is best to set up an internal mentoring/training program or bring in consultants, keep in mind that one-on-one coaching, if feasible, seems to be most effective. In addition to teaching critical job skills, try to provide programs that stress attitude and communication.
Whenever possible, involve your employees in planning the topics for your training sessions. Find out what interests them and send them to any seminars, workshops or meetings that cover these topics.
In addition to providing quality training, make sure you regularly follow up with your employees and ask for their feedback on the program. This will reinforce the training principles and help you determine if your plan is working.
A strong career development plan not only makes it easier to promote from within your own organization, it also helps you retain your top people. Turnover and an inability to promote from within will cost more in the long-term than investing in training for the talented staff you already have.
The final step: promotion.
Once you have provided your people with the training and tools they need to succeed, step aside and let them go to work. Don’t be afraid to see your employees succeed – remember you are all on the same team. Plus, their success reflects positively on you and their advancement marks another opportunity for you to mentor the next group of future leaders.
If you are secure that you have prepared your employees to take the next step, why wait? Start by giving them additional responsibilities or asking for their input on an important matter. Invite them to join special project teams or planning sessions, or find reasons for them to make presentations at higher-level staff meetings to senior executives. If an employee has shown interest in a certain issue, involve that person in any discussions, analysis, and development of recommendations. If you give your employees more accountability and they respond favorably, continue to encourage them to take risks and stretch beyond their current capabilities.
Remember, good employees don’t need to be told all the details about how to do something – they are capable of doing the job themselves. Simply lay the groundwork, set the deadline and express the desired results. If you show confidence in them, they will, in turn, develop confidence in themselves and their decisions – an important trait of a good manager.