In many of the coaching conversations I have with emerging leaders in organizations, the question of “how can I be the best manager?” continues to come up. People are hungry to be effective managers and want to know the secret sauce to managing people. They are afraid of micro-managing, but at the same time want to ensure their direct reports are making progress on the overall organizational goals. People thrown into managerial roles are often never trained and therefore worry if they are managing “correctly.” I have spent a lot of time studying how to be the most effective manager, have been managed by many different people, and managed many different people so wanted to share five tips for new managers.
- Have your direct report fill out a new team member document
I share a “new team member document” with every new manager that brings up this topic of how to be the best manager. The truth is most people don’t take the time to learn about their direct report – what motivates them, why they took this job, what their goals/dreams are, etc. and by asking these questions you are separating yourself as a manager. Additionally, take 30 minutes with your direct report to talk through their answers as there may be things they didn’t want to write down. Even if you’ve been managing someone for a long time, it’s still recommended to have this type of conversation later in the relationship.
2. Manage the whole person
It’s so important to understand who the person is both inside and outside of the office. People are going to be much more motivated when they believe that their boss cares about who they are as a person. As long as the person wants to share, figure out what’s going on with the person outside of work. Understand that they are a person with interests and hobbies outside of the office and they probably want to share these with the people they spend so much time with.
3. Provide feedback with clear examples
Whether it be positive or negative, people want feedback with direct examples so they can learn. Feedback can be scary for some new managers and they can be worried about making their direct reports feel bad, but that can be mitigated by providing timely and direct feedback. Take it to the next level by understanding how your direct report likes to receive feedback. Does he/she prefer it be sent via email first so they can digest it, or do they prefer all feedback be in person?
4. Find a way to connect
Even if you don’t seem like you have much in common with that person you manage, it’s so important to find some way to connect with them on a deeper level than just the role. Be intentional to really listen in your early conversations for certain topics (travel, kids, siblings, sports, etc.) that you can connect with your direct reports on. It’s so important that you develop a relationship with your direct report, and that’s going to be done by creating those connections with shared interests.
5. Be a human being
This should be the golden rule of managing, but really this is what it comes down to. The best managers I’ve seen and studied are the most understanding of the people that they manage. Unfortunately, a lot of new managers are so worried about production and hitting goals, that they forget to treat the people that they manage like human beings. As long as your direct report is doing their job and getting their work done, it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt when they are asking to do things like visit family for the holiday’s or go to a doctor appointment in the morning.