I have a great friend who has an amazing super power: not only does she make fantastic pro-wrestling attire for a living, she has the rare ability to give you the best advice when in moments of struggle, weakness or just in need of someone’s guidance.
Not only this, but she manages to tailor her wisdom, wording it in a way that makes it exactly what you want to hear at exactly the right time. I always walk away from one of our chats feeling reassured, confident and most importantly, completely empowered…
I’ve been skimming through a great little book lately that’s simply titled ‘The Little Black Book for Managers’ by John Cross and is all about how to maximize your managerial moments of power.
Not in any way a lesson in how to dominate or micro-manage you team, it holds some great advice on the best way to take the reigns as a good manager and instead guide your people in a way that makes them feel self assured, confident, empowered and ultimately passionate about driving the company forward.
I was quite surprised to find, very early on in my little black book, some of my friend’s advice right there in black and white: she once told me that a great way to get yourself out of any of life’s little ruts is to take a piece of paper and, down the left hand side, write exactly what it is that’s bothering you, what you want or what you hate about your life. Then on the right hand side, write what you intend to do about it. It’s so simple: creating short-term objectives that feed into your long-term objectives. You create them yourself and so you set your own targets that you know you’re capable of achieving.
And this advice was pretty much one of the first moments of power for managers. Instead of telling employees what to do, my little black book shows some great examples of how to maximize your power by letting your people set their own objectives, allow them to reach their own conclusions and therefore recognise and take pride in their own contribution to the bigger picture. Of course this must be closely monitored: you can’t have your people’s objectives be to look through pictures from Saturday night all afternoon…
So, how do we begin to do this? Whether you’re an MD, an assistant manager, a supervisor or regularly manage or take responsibility for a group of people, there will be something in this advice to get you doing things, not the right way, not the wrong way, but the Max Power way!
(Which, in this case is actually the RIGHT way. But faster.)
One of the worst and most destructive things you can do as a manager is micro-manage. It shatters trust, enthusiasm and creativity quicker than you can say “stop breathing on me”.
Having been on both sides of the fence, I can see how difficult this is for managers – becoming redundant in your field is sometimes a very tricky thing to do especially if your mantra is “if you want something doing right, do it yourself”. Oops… guilty.
But this is so important as micro-managing or constantly looking over someone’s shoulder (despite your good intentions) makes it look like you have zero trust or faith in their ability and eventually they will dread reporting things to you, stop making suggestions or sharing ideas and generally feel as though nothing they achieve on their own will ever match or exceed your standard.
This of course is not only a waste of your time, but your employees time as well and once they sense that they’re wasting time and money, they won’t hesitate to leave and look for work elsewhere where their efforts are more trusted and appreciated.
Left Hand Column (long term goals):
So, to start building some trust and responsibility, allow your team to set some goals for themselves. By all means, proof read and verify each goal they set, but don’t set them for your employees – this opens the door for the goals to be deemed unachievable if they are not complete within the set time or to the best standard.
However, when allowing your employees to set their own goals, just remind them of the SMART rule: that is to make their goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time specific. Be sure to remind them how these goals will fit into the bigger picture at all times to create a real sense of pride in achievement.
Avoid Shared Responsibility:
Allowing responsibility to be divided between two or more people will only allow for duplicate work or tasks being left out. So if the objectives that have been set are shared responsibility or not person specific make sure they are before adding any descriptions of how they plan to achieve said goals.
Make It Digital:
Any good manager will have some form of diary teamed with a content management system. If you can’t all physically get together to measure your progress, opening up discussions using management software is a great way to keep everyone up to date with the progress of certain tasks.
However, personal or private feedback is a good way to focus on the individual, so once you have agreed on some objectives verbally, make sure each employee emails over their own personal goals to you. These could be for the next week, quarter, year – it’s up to you.
Right-Hand Column (short term goals):
Once you’ve finalised the individual’s goals and both agree, you can then allow your employees to write up their plan of exactly how they will achieve each goal. Much like my friend helping me to sort my life out, these short-term goals will each feed into the long term goals that you’ve both set and really give each individual a sense of confidence, achievement and personal power.
Put aside an afternoon to make sure these plans get back to you in good time and once complete, keep a copy of them in a place that the employee can quickly refer back to on a daily basis.
Being a manager isn’t an easy job. Being a GOOD manager is even tougher and sometimes dealing with certain individuals or work situations can be a daily struggle. You have to respond to your staff and their individual needs and sometimes changing the way in which you approach challenges can make a slow but sure difference. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for the next instalment of Max Power.