Why managers fail to manage is a concept that few understand. Some managers have a number of excuses when it comes to why they avoid managing their employees - wanting to be liked, difficult employees, not wanting to rock the boat are just a few. Some feel that it's too late to make changes because they have tolerated business as usual for so long. The important fact to realize is that it’s never too late to turn the situation around and start managing. Here are steps to get started.
1. Find out about your employees. This is more involved then knowing their name, rank and salary. Remember that not everyone is the same. Some people are exactly the same at work as they are at home, others have entirely different persona. You need to find out what each person is like in the work environment. This means spending time away from your desk - outside of your office and mingling amongst your staff. Spend some time studying their work habits. Simple observation can tell you more about a person then even their own self diagnosis.
2. Determine where they need the most help. This can also be done by reviewing the work they submit. If you find a staff member who is constantly overwhelmed or making errors, additional training may be needed.
3. Figure out your own work schedule. You now have a certain number of employees that you are responsible for and need to engage. You will need to spend time with them, if not every day, at least once a week - even if they are your superstar. Determine which of your own tasks can be streamlined or even delegated to free up at least an hour out of your day. A manager must learn to manage themselves before they can manage others.
4. Actively engage your employees. Try to spend a minimum of 15 minutes with them in whatever schedule you have determined to be appropriate for each individual employee. During the first meeting allow extra time so that they can talk about themselves. Report out on your own observations, they are not meant to be a secret. If an employee says that they work best in the morning and you notice that they are more productive in the afternoon - tell them. The differences in observation versus reality will make an interesting and eye opening conversation.
5. Use subsequent meetings to set up action plans on any changes that need to be made. Come up with an action plan so that the employee can get the training they need to be successful. The key is to follow up with each individual employee. Your continued interest in their development goes a long way in building trust and loyalty. While it may be tempting to cancel a meeting with your employees in favor of other “more important matters,” your employees are actually one of your most valuable assets.
Being a manager often requires that you step out of your comfort zone in managing others. It also requires that you learn to manage yourself to get it all done. Remember that employees are all different and individualized, a cookie cutter approach will not work. This week’s challenge is to do what makes you uncomfortable and take the first step in managing your staff.