It might seem a bit redundant to declare that managers must manage, but numerous studies have shown that managers are doing less and less to manage work and people in the workplace. There has been an upward trend toward more paper pushing, allowing employees autonomy, and giving them freedoms to perform work as they see fit, and that’s all well and good, but the work still needs to get done, and not every employee is suited for an autonomous working environment where work is self-managed. Many companies are even cutting out the idea of middle management altogether, and it’s having less than ideal repercussions. Maybe it’s not that managers need to go, but that they need to do a better job of managing the work, and not the people doing the work. Here are some things to consider as you take a look at your own management style, or how you are being managed by a senior employee.
Don’t Work on Autopilot
Many managers make the mistake of thinking the system will function on its own once it is set up. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need managers now, would we? Managers need to be present and be ready to take on anything that gets thrown their way from employees calling in sick to computer systems crashing at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend. If you want your department to work more efficiently, you need to set it up like that; then you need to tend to it like it’s your life’s work. Ignoring problems, neglecting to pay attention to processes that might be outdated, and hoping that it will all work itself out is the calling card of many a terrible manager, but it doesn’t have to be: just look around and see what needs fixing.
Planning is key
Some of the best managers are the ones that can see a storm coming from a mile away. They just have this sense about them that even when things are great, they might not stay that way. Managers are most effective when they are poking holes in plans and then making new plans to account for those new holes. Planners are the best managers because they can see a problem and figure out a multitude of solutions. They know that around the corner is another problem and another after that, but they also know that taking the time to plan a course of action is time well spent. They see opportunities in every situation that arises. Managers who make decisions off-the-cuff don’t always get the job done the way it was intended to be done, and unfortunately, everyone pays the price when a manager doesn’t take the time to plan.
Good Managers Face Challenges Head On
If you have one of those managers that retreat to his or her office right before the ball drops, then you probably already know they are not a good manager. Great managers stick around when the going gets tough, and they encourage their teams to dig in and focus on the solutions, not the problems. They don’t retreat, and they don’t blame others for what is happening to them or their department. Great managers keep their eye on the prize and let their teams see them stand up to the issues with grace and grit.
Effective Managers Can Handle Difficult Employees
Have you ever had a manager that fired anyone who questions their tactics, decisions, or motives? If so, it’s likely that it didn’t take you long to figure out that you better keep your mouth shut or you’d be next on the chopping block. These type of managers are like poison because rather than deal with the issues employees have or bring to their managers, these guys and gals project the blame on the employee and send them packing as a way to deflect some of the responsibility from themselves. It’s a slippery slope and one that many managers ride for a long time before someone notices they aren’t as good at their job as they once thought. Good managers can have a frank conversation with an employee without feeling threatened by them and without making the employee feel threatened in return. It’s about mutual respect and trust, and a good manager can handle even the most difficult employees with candor, respect, and trust.
Great Managers Trust, but Verify Work
Some of the best managers you will ever have will trust you enough to go out into the world and create products, solutions, and services on your own and bring back the finished product when it’s ready for fine-tuning. Some of the worst managers will sit with you at your desk while you try to create products and services because they don’t trust you enough to leave you alone. The truth is that most employees want a manager that is somewhere in between: they want to feel confident enough to take on a project on their own, but they want to know that their manager is there to help if they run into trouble. This kind of relationship creates a feeling of trust and respect that is ideal in the workplace. It keeps managers in the loop with what their employees are doing and working on, and it helps the employee to feel supported but autonomous at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds, and that’s what managers should be focusing on: creating a work environment where employees feel empowered yet supported.
Let’s make 2018 the best year yet for you, your company, and your employees.