We’ve all heard the saying that people leave bosses, not jobs. The reverse is also true: good managers make for committed employees. Whether you’re a seasoned leader or a first-time manager, here are eight ways to boost your management skills.
1. Hire good people
It’s a lot easier to lead when you have the right people on your team. Drawing from interviews with nearly 500 leaders, the New York Times proposes some simple ways to find the right candidate. Suggestions include switching up the standard interview questions, watching how interviewees interact with others, and rewriting the job description to encourage more diverse applicants.
2. Define your expectations
Lack of clarity or direction is one of the most common complaints about bosses. Work with your employees to set well-defined, realistic performance goals—and then regularly check-in to review progress against these goals.
3. Empower your employees
Motivation is about understanding what really drives people. Despite what the traditional wisdom may say, the promise of rewards aren’t always the best way to inspire. In fact, non-monetary incentives, such as providing a sense of purpose and opportunities to excel, are often much more powerful.
4. Share your vision for the future
It’s key that everyone, from managers right down to front-line employees, has a basic understanding of the big picture—i.e. your strategic plan. Employees who understand why their work matters are more likely to put in that extra bit of effort. Strategy management software like Envisio can help provide visibility on how one employee’s hard work contributes to the whole.
5. Maximize your one-on-ones
Are you getting enough out of your one-on-ones with direct reports? Arm yourself with the right questions to ensure these meetings yield quality feedback and useful suggestions. Quality one-on-ones will give you a better sense of your people’s engagement, skills and capacity—a cornerstone of your strategic HR management plan.
6. Zero in on blind spots
Direct reports do not usually share honest feedback because they are often weary of speaking up. Actively solicit feedback from them about how you could do better. Everyone has blind spots; honest feedback is the best way to gain awareness about what yours might be.
7. Bring people together
Being a leader isn’t just about managing individuals—it’s also about fostering bonds between team members. In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni explores how improving group dynamics helps get the most out of every team member. Spoiler: he emphasizes building trust and the importance of collective goals over personal ambition.
8. Celebrate wins
Workplaces with a culture of celebration tend to be more productive—and more fun, too. Whether you do it via emails or thank you cards, in meetings or at special team events, it’s important to consistently show your team that their contributions matter.
Becoming an effective leader is not something that happens overnight and is something that has to be developed with intention. Take time to reflect on how you can better support your team, seek advice from other leaders and resources or even find a mentor. See each challenge or roadblock as an opportunity to learn and refine your management skills.