I was so lucky early in my career to have a mentor who helped me develop good management skills. Managers are often employees who have been promoted because of specific skill sets or expertise in a certain area. Frequently they receive no training in management skills and learn "on the job" often at the expense of unsuspecting employees.
Having mentors who can help you with the subtle and not so subtle skills needed to be successful at managing employees was invaluable.
One really important lesson I learned was that great managers know how to 'walk the talk.' in other words, a great boss needs to be a role model so that employees will mirror their behavior.
Employees are like kids, they see everything and they remember even more. If you want your employees to work hard, then you work harder. On the other hand, if you reward those employees who do little and whose greatest skill is agreeing with you, then you send a strong message that doing your best gets you nowhere except overworked and under appreciated.
As a manager, your organization's success is intrinsically linked to your success. You have many different roles and responsibilities. A typical day can include negotiating contracts, settling disputes, authorizing purchases and hiring and firing. You're instructing, motivating and evaluating all day long.
Doing all those things well contributes to moving your organization forward.
- By setting high standards in how you execute your role, you set a great example. If you demonstrate that with all of your responsibilities you can maintain poise under pressure, demonstrate energy and enthusiasm, and this behavior will spill over to your employees.
- Further, a major complaint you often hear about bad managers is that when something goes wrong, they avoid blame or push the blame to others. So being accountable for your decisions and performance is also important. Failure is part of the growth process. Saying "I could have done better" or simply "That decision was a mistake. Let's figure out what went wrong and learn how to do it better next time" sends two powerful messages to employees. One, you took responsibility for something that went wrong and second that it was ok to make a mistake and that you can fail and still move forward. The results will be empowering to everyone. None of us is immune from making mistakes. If you create a culture of accountability and learning from mistakes, you will have an invigorated team. The alternative is that employees who are afraid of doing anything that may cause them to fail will never give you their best or most creative ideas and that simply leads to mediocrity.
- Role models are also great coaches. Your team should be able to look to you for input, ideas or information to do their jobs better. So coach them to success and give them the tools to improve their skills and the quality of their work. Most importantly set an example of excellence and instill in them an absolute desire to excel.
- Finally, earn their trust and treat them with respect. Successful teams work because there is a belief that each one of the members has each other's back. As the leader of that team, you will set an example by standing up for them and setting the example with your behavior that trust and respect are important values for you and the only acceptable way to behave.
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