Did you know that Forbes estimates 50%-70% of new managers fail in their first 18 months? A contributing factor is when managers neglect to take the time to understand and develop their employees. Whether you are heading a new team or have a team that is not performing to its potential, here are four tips to get back on the right track as a manager:
1. Be a Sponge: get to know your team members without having any bias. Set up bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with them. Don’t just talk about their performance, but start by seeing how they are doing, what inspires them to work, what struggles they face, and what aspirations they have for their future. Incorporate a Lean approach using a practice called “Communication Cell” when having your team meetings where you start with the “People” topic first. Then you follow it with “Performance” and based on how things are going, you end the meeting with the “Continuous Improvement” topic so that it creates a problem-solving environment among the team. Be an observer during these meetings to see how the team is interacting. Absorb your team’s dynamics like a sponge!
2. Be Transparent in your Communications: the manager-employee relationship is a two-way street. As you learn from your employees, you also want to get them to know you. Kill the “need to know” mentality used by bad leadership and choose the “this is us” mantra instead. You cannot have team cohesion if everyone has their own agenda or looking out for themselves. The last thing you want to be is the weakest link in your team because you are not utilizing them to their full potential. Build trust with your team by being transparent!
3. Customize your approach with your employees: There is no one-way of handling everyone in your team. As you get to know your employees, you will learn how to interact with them. The way you build a relationship with them is by knowing how to approach them. This does tie to having a ILM mindset. There are times when you will need to hold their hand through a task as they learn how to execute; a more experienced employee may need your guidance as a mentor to help them through the task; or you may want to challenge your employee by coaching them instead. Being aware of your employees’ needs is key to getting them to trust you. If they know you have their back as a manager, they in turn will have your back!
4. Reward and recognize your employees: Do you remember how you felt in grade school when the teacher placed a sticker on your homework because it was excellent? It motivated you to continue working hard in the class. As a manager, you may not be placing a sticker on your employees’ performance, but you can reward them. Check with your HR department for a reward & recognition program. Also don’t wait for the yearly review to tell them they are doing great; tell them every time they actually did something great. You can also include in your quarterly team meetings a section for reward & recognition so that it is not something done in secret but celebrated by the team.
If you are reading this blog and feel that working through tips is too time consuming, then we do have a shortcut you can take as a manager. We offer a team performance program tailored to your team to establish self-awareness and group-awareness that can translate to creating a robust team with peak performance.
Have you initiated your team cohesion as a manager? Let us know your tip….