How managers operate with their team ultimately sets the tone for how employees interact with customers, and how they manage relationships both internally and externally. Not only does the manager act as an example for the team to follow, but they are also important for employee satisfaction and retention. The role of a manager is so influential that 50% of employees report quitting their bosses, not their jobs, according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup.
Now more than ever, the manager’s role is complex and constantly shifting. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to put forth work from home policies, making it paramount that managers can practice empathetic listening, clear communication, and general flexibility. Not every person has the same experiences or background, and accommodating for these differences is a key factor in effective leadership.
Overall, the current environment is heightening the need for effective leaders, and it is increasingly important for organizations to invest in managers that reflect the values of the business. Managers who have an impartial mindset, the ability to adapt quickly, and a knack for problem-solving are positioned best to be great leaders.
Maintain an Impartial Mindset
During a time when the majority of interactions are occurring through a screen, managers are tasked with maintaining individualized and impartial relationships with team members, while keeping in mind the overall goal of the company or department.
Managers are often working with people of various skill sets and knowledge levels and unique backgrounds both professionally and personally. Furthermore, each employee is working toward their own personal career goals. With this in mind, successful managers will need to take an employee-first approach to leadership, focusing on the individual’s personal goals, strengths, and challenges. Managers who listen, set explicit definitions of expectations, and provide open and individualized feedback enable the best outcomes across their team and department.
This is even more important now when lines between written and verbal communications are blurred. Assigning a project and explaining the task, the deadline, and the expectation is significantly easier to do in person than over email. Managers need to prioritize providing detailed and descriptive explanations that resonate with individuals as people continue working from home.
This approach, coupled with a focus on each person’s own career goals, will encourage employees to put forth their best work and, as a result, meet the needs of customers, partners, or clients.
Whether it is being able to jump from task to task quickly, adjust feedback to fit an individual, or guide a team through a new type of project, managers can only be effective if they are adaptable. Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, about a third of Americans are now working from home, which is a major increase from 2017 when less than 6% of Americans were remote working. Organizations are implementing work-from-home policies for the long-term, and managers are now faced with challenges surrounding communication and prioritization like never before.
A distributed workforce model makes it impossible for managers to observe their team and develop strategies as they traditionally would, but effective managers will continue to look for ways to help fill gaps and accentuate the strength of their team members. Managers must learn to adapt while communicating solely via chat rooms, email and video, and phone calls. Effective communication over these platforms is important as the structure of the workplace shifts; some roles and responsibilities may need to be adjusted, and team dynamics are inevitably changing.
In response to the pandemic, managers have been tasked with shifting priorities. Undoubtedly, the goals of organizations have changed in recent months, whether it be shuffling paid time off and the mental health of employees to the top of the list, rejiggering business strategies, or setting new expectations for revenue. Managers must adapt to these changes and continue enabling their team to provide the best service possible.
While effective communication and prioritization have come to light recently as two prominent qualities of successful managers, adaptability is at the core of it all. To be a productive leader, it is critical to have the ability to flex in reaction to external factors, as well as changes within an organization.
Have a Knack for Problem-Solving
Managers who not only showcase supreme critical thinking skills but also have a desire to solve problems are more likely to be successful in their role. Managers with a knack for problem-solving are able to chase down the right answer and figure out the next best step, even for projects outside of their comfort zone. And they enjoy the process.
Ultimately, successful managers are those who enable their team to improve and strive to make decisions with their organization’s goal in mind. Demonstrating a problem-solving mentality is integral to career growth for other employees, and often, this employee-first approach actually translates into a customer-first approach. Teams that are fueled by creativity and beyond-the-obvious thinking are inspiring, and that sentiment bleeds into the work the company does externally with partners and customers.
In the current environment outside of the workplace, when many employees are encouraged to work from home, and the personal lives of employees are being altered dramatically, the environment managers create within the workplace is even more influential. Organizations need to focus on investing in quality managers who portray the three essential skills and recognize the relationship between building a productive company culture and maintaining the overall values of the business.