A couple weeks ago I talked about the 3 roles of a leader of people, manager, leader and coach. This week, manager! I share this as the first deeper discussion as it is the part that gets the “job” done. It’s the part that is first on people’s minds when they ask “how are things going?”
Managing is about measuring and controlling. It's about measuring your output against your stated goals or key performance indicators. It's about measuring the output of your people. It's about measuring attendance. It's about controlling performance, controlling methods and providing processes. It's about giving feedback on performance and achievements.
For me managing was a necessary part of what had to happen each day. My aim was to do this from a “helping” perspective - sometimes a difficult thing to do. How do you help someone meet measurements, especially if they are having a struggle with a task that's part of their role? You also have to consider how the your team is stacking up, as a unit, against the group measurements? At times working to meet expectations around what is being measured can feel, overwhelming and not your favourite part of the job. Make no mistake though, you need to meet (and there will be an expectation to exceed) those measurements.
For me, my approach to helping or being in helping mode, more often than in “telling” mode, was to start with a very clear description of the job, the expectations, the measurements and how I wanted to give feedback. Then it was time to have a conversation and deliver my messages. The result of this conversation was alway to ensure that the other person was absolutely clear on what I needed from them, what they were accountable for, how their performance impacts the rest of the team and an agreement on how we would approach their performance conversation. A challenge here as manager is that you need to use a little bit of your coach role to check-in and be sure there is a common understanding of the conversation!
Now, you've set up expectations, you've been clear and you have a common understanding of what each person needs to do in their job. How well they do they their job and how good their performance is depends on skill, knowledge and commitment. The commitment you are looking for here is the commitment not just to do the job but, to bring best effort to get a best result everyday. People will be committed based on their internal motivation. Their motivation will be influenced by many factors (the work, fulfillment, team etc.). A big factor will be how they see you and if they can be committed to you. This is where walking the talk plays a big role. This is where your other 2 roles come in - leader and coach - to help you inspire and build commitment. I mention commitment here because it affects your ability to manage and your results.
You’ve earned their commitment to you and they love their work. You’ve put in the right processes to measure and control the work. You have a focus on your people and results at the same time. Now, you need to provide feedback - acknowledge what was done well, correct errors, adjust or replace incorrect processes and maintain strong relationships. This can be one of the more difficult parts of managing people. This is where your strength in having conversations that build trust, reduce defensiveness and keep the other person open to your feedback is most important. A tip here is to have these conversations regularly - not once a year. Another tip, have them when things go well and when then don't go so well - reflection and learning can and should happen all the time - it will help balance your relationships with your team.
So, that’s a good start on job one! Managing, measuring, controlling and correcting behaviour and results! Now you may be getting the feel for this transition - all of the above is part of the job of managing and one of your three roles! So, dive in and do this part well. Next week, leading!