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 How to be a Better Manager

Business managers are a lot like stage managers behind the scenes of a play. Although you don’t tend to see them unless there’s an issue, they’re hugely responsible for making sure each and every production goes off without a hitch.

And in order to keep “running a successful show” so to speak, managers need to keep brushing up on their skills so that they can continue to keep their employees productive and motivated to deliver the best possible results.

Let’s start the by discussing the foundation of management success: the importance of establishing the right team. 

Choose Your Team Wisely

Any manager worth his salt knows that he can only accomplish so much work on his own. The key to running a successful business is to have a strong team behind you, which means you need to be incredibly selective about who you decide to hire.

We recently talked about the core members every team needs to work most effectively, and while finding the appropriate skill sets to match your needs is vitally important, it’s only a piece of a larger puzzle. The other piece is cultural fit, an important (but often overlooked) factor when it comes to hiring decisions.

When the hiring process has become grueling and you’re in the weeds, it can sometimes be tempting to check off the interview boxes and just be done with it; the candidate is proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and he has a typing speed of 97 words per minute? What more could I want?

Actually, a lot.

Don’t get so wrapped up in the little details that you lose sight of the big picture. Instead of obsessing over the qualifications on a piece of paper, look at the person as a whole package and think about what it would be like to supervise them day in and day out. What about that questionable thing he said about his former boss during the interview and how he blamed his coworker for making him late? Is this someone you want representing your company? Will he play well with others?

Motivate Your Team

So, you’ve nailed down the right team, offers have all be accepted and they’re starting next week. Awesome! But don’t kick back and celebrate just yet; now’s where the real work begins: the work of keeping these rock stars on your team.

You didn’t think you were going to put all this time into hiring them and then just go about your business as usual, did you?

A big part of your job as a manager is to make sure that the team you worked so hard to build is happy and motivated. I mean, you want them to stay and continue to deliver great work, right? Right.

And there’s a great number of ways that you can do this, ranging from as simple as buying them a cup of coffee when they’re having a tough day to giving them a bonus for a job well done.

Let your employees know they’re appreciated, help make them feel safe, and demonstrate that their contributions really matter. Because when things get tough (and trust me they will), their happiness with the work environment will serve as the glue that bonds them to their position and make them want to continue fighting for it.

Put Your Employees' Needs Ahead of Your Own

Best-selling author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek writes about the importance of putting your employees’ needs before your own in his book, Leaders Eat Last. The concept is based on biology in its most basic form.

Since the earliest hunter and gatherer times, we’ve been wired to seek food, shelter, and safety, thriving only when we feel safe amongst our group. Sinek discusses how a leader should sacrifice his own comfort by putting his team first in order to establish a “circle of safety” in the workplace. This sense of safety will yield stable, adaptable, and confident team members who all feel that they belong, and are therefore more dedicated to committing to their roles and facing any challenges head on.  

So if you want to keep your team around for the long-haul, it’s in your best interest to foster an environment where they feel safe and can be their most productive.

Resolve Conflict

But even if you have the world’s greatest team, at some point, conflict is inevitable. And although it can sometimes be tempting to bury your head in the sand, brush it under the rug (or any number of other clichés that would apply here), you need to be willing to face conflict head on and resolve it quickly.

Start by speaking with each individual involved privately so that you can understand both sides of the issue and prevent anyone from getting defensive. Do your best to be objective and not take sides, but instead try to reach a fair conclusion so that each party is satisfied with the results.

Moving forward, be sure to clearly define roles and responsibilities and clarify expectations. This way, your employees will know exactly what is expected of them, creating much less confusion and conflict.

Continue Learning

In the midst of making sure workplace conflicts are resolved and focusing all of your energy on keeping your team happy, it can be easy to lose sight of yourself. Don’t fall into this trap; instead, identify management areas where you’re weak and improve upon them. Even if you’ve been a seasoned manager for decades, there’s always room to grow and learn.

Remember, a team will only be as strong as its leader, so if you continue to keep improving and strengthening your weaknesses, your employees will evolve right along with you. And that’s a win-win for everyone.

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