making managers more effective

Nobody ever said being a manager was easy. Here’s an upbeat look at how your supervisory people can increase their effectiveness — and become the manager everybody wants to work for.  

Mike Brown, writing on the blog Managers Are Heroes, offers a laundry list of things that’ll spark enthusiasm in managers and employees alike. Here’s a sampling of his straight talk for supervisors:

  1. Demand excellence. Mediocrity sucks. If you do not demand excellence, that is what you’ll get – a department full of mediocrity. When you ask people to describe the best manager they’ve ever had – no one says “it was the slacker manager who played Words with Friends all day”… No, it was the one who pushed us – and challenged us to do things that we never thought we could do.
  2. Be passionate. If you’re not all-in, why will people want to go above and beyond for you? The idea of checking your emotions at the door is ridiculous. If you are excited about the work you are doing and the people you are helping – let people know. Scream it from the mountain. Tattoo it on your chest. Passion is contagious.
  3. Believe in your people. Be their No. 1 fan. Let them know it. Believe in them more than they believe in themselves. If you don’t believe in your people – then why do they work there? When you truly believe in your people, you’ll be surprised as to what they can achieve. If you don’t  – you will get what you wish for.
  4. Listen. No…Really…Listen. How often are you planning what to say next – instead of listening to the person sitting in front of you? It’s OK if you don’t get your point in. It’s OK if there is uncomfortable silence after the person is done talking because you’re not prepared to jump in. The important thing is to allow the person to express themselves – and truly be interested in what they are saying.
  5. Have fun. We spend too much time in the office not to enjoy ourselves. Be silly. Lighten things up. Everyone needs an opportunity to blow off some steam. Check out this 30-second video describing the fun culture at Zappos. What are you going to do this week to be more like Zappos?
  6. Tell ’em about the 3 things. Communicate your top 3 priorities on a regular basis. Tell them…Tell them again…And then tell them one more time. It’s a morale killer to work hard on a task/project and then find out it was not really a high priority. If you want your people to be independent thinkers who consistently go above and beyond, make sure they know what your top priorities are.
  7. Say thank you. We get so busy that sometimes we forget the simple things. Your people may not show their appreciation every time you say thank you. But I guarantee they will remember – when you don’t.
  8. Delegate important tasks. I know…I know…“Who has time to teach someone this task? It would just be easier to do it myself.” When we delegate important tasks – we honor our people. We are telling them how important they are – and how much we trust them. When people know they are trusted and are responsible for important tasks, they are more engaged and more likely to go above and beyond for you.
  9. Give “attaboys” – OFTEN. Have you heard this one before – “My people get paid to work here. They will know very clearly when they are doing something wrong.” That…Won’t…Fly…Anymore… As a rule of thumb, try to give your people at least one piece of positive feedback per week. If you cannot think of one positive thing to say about your people – you may want to think about whether that person should be working with you.
  10. Have their backs. You will not get the most from your employees – if they do not feel it’s safe. If their first concern is to document their actions so they do not get in trouble – you are in trouble. Your people need to know that you will go to the mat for them. This may mean taking the hit from above when someone on your team makes a mistake or pushing back on a task when you know that your team is already overloaded. Words are cheap when it comes to this – you are going to have to prove this one with actions.

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