7 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Manager Right Now

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Mar 28, 2013

One of our key insights: 79 percent of people leave managers, not companies.

It’s often reductive to say you left a certain company. The chances are, you didn’t leave a company, you left a manager.

You left a manager who made your work life (and sometimes your personal life) difficult to the point where you were willing to leave a secure position and enter an unknown situation. It’s time to take a hard look at how managers are affecting your retention rates and how you can improve them.

Here’s how you can be a better manager:

1. Know what you’re doing

Are you aware of each of your team members responsibilities? Do you know how to do their work if you had to?

If you know what your employees do and how they do it, you are better able to identify when obstacles arise. It’s your job as a manager to remove those obstacles.

You’re qualified to reach across departments and find the key stakeholders to help you remove obstacles. You’re able to prevent needless obstacles by being your employee’s voice in steering meetings. At the same time, you must allow your employees to do their work without constant micromanaging.

2. Resolve interpersonal problems

It’s your responsibility to resolve any interpersonal problems on your team.

Members of the same team who do not get along cause contention and anxiety for the whole team. Your employees will look to you, and they should, to fix those issues. Make friends with your HR team and get their advice on how to proceed.

Sometimes people are in the wrong positions, have the wrong responsibilities, or are unhappy. You don’t need to resort to letting someone go until you’ve tried to find a better fit for them. Occasionally you will come across an employee who is poisoning the team with inefficiency or is not performing up to par.

In many states employment law is specific about what you can and cannot do. Your HR team will assist you in taking the next steps.

3. Trust your employees

If there’s anything I can emphasize it’s that you should trust your employees to do their work and produce great results.

Employees in high trust environments perform better and innovate more. Trust them with smaller projects until you can hand over medium to large projects.

If a project fails, it doesn’t mean the employee failed. Find out what happened and work together with your employee to deliver a better outcome.

4. Be clear about expectations

Employees who understand where the company is going and what their role is in accomplishing the strategic vision are more likely to engage tactically.

Your employees should know what your expectations are so they can meet or exceed them. Keep them informed about company changes or long range goals. Help your employees want to build your company.

5. Say “yes”

I’ve never understood managers who want to keep their employees under lock and key. Say “yes.”

Let them take vacation time. Tell them to stay home when they’re sick. Allow them flexible work environments. Be OK with telecommuting.

It comes back to trusting your employees: You set up this team, do you trust they can do the work? Nothing else matters if the work is getting done and getting done well.

6. Limit gossip and tearing down

It should go without saying, but gossip and interpersonal drama will kill a team.

Do not gossip about your employees with other team members. Decline to participate in gossip in meetings. Do not allow public destruction of an employee with tactics intended to humiliate.

You may think you are making an example of them, but all it sends to your employees is the message that they will be next. Fear and drama destroy teams, they do not build them.

7. Encourage and appreciate

Once your employees know where they’re going and that they are going there together, make sure you are encouraging their work as often as possible.

Set up regular recognition goals as well as informal appreciation. Tell them “thank you.” Make sure you attribute great ideas to the employee who came up with them. Call out a great performer during a meeting.

Award, gift, and appreciate them. You will keep this great team you’ve built running and producing exceptional work.

What are you doing now to become a better manager?

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

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