In our last blog we spoke about making sure to promote the right person to management. When I speak of management the same applies to any leadership role, supervisor, Vice President, CFO etc. Although the responsibilities of those positions differ, the principles of leadership remain the same.
I mentioned that owners have to be flexible and when they see an employee who has been around for a long time and who is really excelling, before promoting them to a management role make sure they have the interpersonal skills and leadership skills to be successful at management. If they do not, find another way to promote them using the skills they do have. In this blog I will talk about what traits to look for in a good manager.
With any position you need to make sure the employee has several characteristics. The need to align with your unique values as a company, they need to be passionate about working at your company and they need, not only the knowledge of how to do the job, but the innate traits to perform that job.
Let's talk about that last statement, innate traits. What I mean is that some people are wired differently than others. Not everyone is wired to manage or lead. They may have the knowledge whether through schooling or even some past experience, but that is quite different from actually having the ability to perform the task. So find someone is truly gifted to manage or to be in the role you are hiring for, otherwise you will run into complications.
Now let's talk about principles for good management.
Principle 1: Good managers EMPOWER not OVERPOWER. their direct reports. Managers that demonstrate they want their staff to succeed will breed success. Managers who act as if their employees will fail will breed failure. Authors Tom Davenport and Stephen Harding of the book "Manager Redefined The Competitive Advantage in the Middle of Your Organization," said that successful companies need to “unleash managers' potential to create an environment that fosters success by empowering employees to excel.”
Have you ever reported to someone who acted more like a policeman just waiting for you to fail, like the CHP hiding behind the onramp waiting to catch someone speeding? This management style jumps at the first sign of any mistake.
That behavior never produces good long term results and for sure never produces excellence. Good managers make sure their staff have all the tools, the training and the information they need to succeed. They will consistently check in to see how they can help.
Principle 2: Good managers HONOR and RESPECT their staff. When people feel like you believe in them, when they feel respected, by nature they want to perform well. They want to respect back and honor back by doing the best they can. When people feel disrespected and dishonored they are by nature on the defensive and will never have the freedom to fully flourish. This includes asking their staff for ideas on how to improve processes, involving them before making changes. Sometimes those who are hands on with the tasks have a better handle on how things are working, good employees will want to improve things, should want to improve things. By engaging staff for feedback you encourage them to look for ways to improve the processes.
Principle 3:Good managers give DETAILED FEEDBACK on a REGULAR BASIS. People need to know how they are doing. When managers perform reviews on a quarterly basis, but have never even communicated anything prior to that review, it does not make for a very productive meeting. Good managers take the time to make notes on specific actions that their staff perform, either that they do well or fall short in. They also communicate more often at least monthly if not weekly with some specific feedback. Sure it takes work, but when you have clear details of specific issues, the person whom you are managing will clearly understand what happened. When managers give nonspecific, judgemental feedback whether good or bad, that never helps anyone. For example, feedback like: Dave does great work. Which tasks exactly does Dave perform well? What exactly is he doing that stands out?
Finally, having a good system in place like our five part OTR system, makes evaluating employees much easier since their roles and responsibilities are clearly spelled out, along with clear metrics that each employee is responsible for. When that type of information is detailed out for each employee it makes for a much better workplace. Everyone clearly understands what exactly is expected of them and they get the feedback they need to understand how they are performing compared to those task metrics.