Haven’t you read enough blog posts like this?
Haven’t you attended enough conferences, read books, listened to leadership podcasts, etc?
Of course you have…
Chances are, you are neck-deep in learning & development–and probably have been all throughout your adult career.
Why then, do we continue to get stuck? To grow and advance slower than we’d like?
Is it because we don’t know what to do or how to act?
Oftentimes, ineffective managers and leaders are those who fail to internalize all they have learned, or fail to put those rules into action.
Below we’d like to lay out the “rules to live by.”
You’ve probably seen every one of these before–but thought it would be nice to break them down in a memorable format that will help them stick in your brain, hopefully allowing you to internalize and take action.
Live your management life by these, day in and day out, and watch effectiveness and growth improve and accelerate.
Thou Shall Think of Your Team NOT As “Your Team,” But “Our Team.”
When managing people, one must consider their feelings, emotions, and situations–in addition to responsibilities, skills, etc.
This should start with recognizing that every team member is important, and a part of the team.
- Our team
- Our objectives
- Our wins
- Our failures
- Our goals
This builds buy-in from team members, and a cohesiveness and camaraderie.
However, Thou Shall Assume Responsibility
This might seem to contradict the first commandment above, but great managers can easily distinguish when to follow which commandment.
When your team is crushing goals and functioning on all twelve cylinders, highlight the contributions and work of your team–not yourself.
After all, leaders do not push themselves to CEO–they are pulled up by their cohorts.
On the contrast, when your team isn’t functioning correctly or is not progressing as intended–assume responsibility.
Aside from being the truth (probably), it also shows great form and humility to upper management. It tells them you know there’s a problem, and you’re dedicated to fixing it.
Thou Shall Coach
It should come as no surprise to you that we at WideAngle are fired up about one-on-one meetings.
They are one of the best ways to stay connected to your employees, establishing proper accountabilities and responsibilities–but they’re also perfect for job coaching.
Managers should be required to coach their employees–and not just on the skills required for their role…
- Coach them on skills
- Coach them on the company
- Coach them on career growth
- Coach them on managing
It is your job to help them grow in their roles, as a part of the team, and in their own careers.
Thou Shall Keep an Open Mind at All Costs.
Just because your company chose you to get promoted, doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know.
Believe it or not, your team members might have valuable insights that you’d never be able to see, due to your position as manager (out of day-to-day activities perhaps? Or away from customer-facing roles?)
Great managers listen to and take advice from their employees.
Really, really great managers go out of their way to elicit that valuable information from their employees.
Closed-minded leaders don’t stay leaders for long.
Actively empower your team to share knowledge and opinions.
Thou Shall Do Unto Employees What You Would Want Upper Management to Do to You
Ah. The Golden Rule of management.
Translated, this rule essentially is “manage like a human.”
Practice empathy and objectivity. It can be all too easy to step into “boss mode” and start to treat employees in a manner which you yourself wouldn’t approve of.
It’s a shame that this rule is often difficult to remember on any given day, especially once you navigate away from this post.
We hope you’ll find little systems and processes to make sure you’re treating your team with respect and dignity.
Thou Shall Think Before You Communicate
We get it.
You have your own deadlines. Your own crowded email inbox. Your own life outside of work.
It can be easy to fire off short and not-so-sweet emails–and assume people know what you’re talking about, or what you want, or what’s expected of them.
Don’t do that.
Communicating clearly is one of the biggest traits of a super-effective manager.
Whether it’s via email or shouting to the team member in the next room, take the time to make sure your message is clear, and clearly received.
Thou Shall Get to Know Each Team Member Individually
We all work in different ways!
Each of your employees will function differently, so in order to build a cohesive machine, you will have to tweak each employee’s needs individually…
…and this requires that you know how they operate.
Again, might we suggest one-on-one meetings?
This is the optimal atmosphere for discovering how to best serve each employee, how they work, how they learn, and when and where you should step in to guide/help them.
Thou Shall “Guide the Passive, Empower the Proactive”
We found this in an Appirio post from 2015, and loved it.
“Every team is a heterogeneous mix of people possessing not only different skill sets but also different levels of the same skills.(…)”
“Meanwhile, it can be all too easy to give up on someone who is a low performer. And that’s exactly where a good manager needs to work on grooming that particular individual to get results and be able to take on challenging work. This is where it’s important that “mentoring,” not “managing” comes into play(…)”
“Similarly, managers should not hesitate to empower top performs on the team. But in order to do that, there has to be mutual trust and respect between the top performer and the manager. Those 2 things in particular lead to a meaningful and healthy partnership that ultimately drive processes across the team.”
This goes right along-side the previous commandment about know every team member.
Thou Shall Abandon Personal Pride
Confidence, yes. Pride, not so much.
If anything, take pride in your team. How they’re performing.
Do not allow your role as a manager to translate into an ego. Remember, without your team, you could not function.
Ego is the Enemy is a fantastic book on this subject.
Thou Shall Motivate and Inspire
This is our last rule to manage by:
Your team is like an automobile, and motivation is the gas. The tank needs to be refueled BEFORE it is empty.
Should you prepare motivational keynotes for your weekly meetings? Of course not.
There is a much simpler and practical way to keep the motivation fuel tank up: Encouragement.
For every piece of criticism you dish out–which will need to happen–there should be three moments of encouragement.
Encourage your team with your confidence in their abilities, and reward A+ behavior.
Build team members up at every opportunity, and you’ll hopefully never develop a motivation problem.
Have you heard some of these tips before?
Do you still live them out every single day in your career? No. None of us do. We’re not perfect.
But if you internalize just one of these rules and take a small action to include it in your role as a manager, you will see your effectiveness increase.
And along with effectiveness comes a better functioning team and faster career trajectory.
Live by management commandments.
Related reading: 7 Steps to Upgrade Your Employee Performance Evaluations (in 2018)