I have been managing people for over 15 years. When I started managing people, I was not a very good manager. In this post, I will share what I have learned managing people and hopefully help you avoid some of the mistakes I made in my early days managing people and employee's.
One of the first mistakes I made was communication. I though people had to figure out how to communicate with me. I was mistaken, you need to figure out how to communicate with your employee/person you are managing. Not everyone communicates the same way, if you want to be successful, you need to figure out how to communicate with others on their terms.
It is important to hold the people you manage accountable. Is is even more important to hold everyone to the same level of accountability. If you don't, you have the potential to create "Prima-Dona's" who think the rules don't apply or are better than others who you manage. If you don't hold people accountable and then attempt to rain it in later, good luck, the train has already left the building. People watch what you do and what your intentions are. If they see people being held to a different level of accountability, you will lose their trust.
Make sure that everyone is held to the same level of accountability and be consistent.
I am still guilty of this at times, but you need to listen to your people. You need to listen to your people and consider the idea's they bring to you. You are not Caesar or Stalin, don't just bark orders or have your team wait for you to assign work and make decisions. Not only will you create a backlog of work, you will demoralize your team. Anyone who is smart or is a go-getter will not want to work for you or will want to leave.
Have Difficult Conversations
This is a mistake I see all of the time. You don't like the way someone acts in meetings or how they approach work, but instead of dealing with the problem, you complain about it and let the problem become worse.
What I have learned is that most people are blind to weaknesses or not emotionally aware to realize how they are perceived. They also do not realize that the approach they take offends people or makes people not work with them. Having this conversation is difficult (it sucks), but it is important to have it. If you don't you are failing as manager and are setting up the person you are managing to fail. Don't complain or speak negatively about that person, take care of the problem. Don't make it personal, if you do, you have failed.
Also when you are promoted and left the problem to someone else to deal with, don't expect that person to work miracles. Also, don't provide advice that you yourself did not do. It makes you a hypocrite.
Spend Time with your direct reports
Covid-19 has made team building much more difficult. Video conferencing and phone calls are not the same as being in the same building or room. It also makes focusing much more difficult.
You need to make sure that you spend time building a relationship with your direct reports. Make sure you are talking about more than work and make sure they are doing ok, especially now, it is important. You are missing an opportunity to build a better relationship and also to make the person you mange feel like you care.
When you build a relationship, it makes it easier to have difficult conversations. It also gives you insight on how the person is doing, you can sense if they are having a bad day or something is wrong. It also helps you understand what their goals in life are and what motives them. You send more time with the people at work them you do with your family. Spend time to get to know the people you work with and manage. You will be surprised how much it help build a better relationship and don't make it all about work.
I have had good and bad managers over the years. The good managers take time to ask about your day and about your life. The poor managers are transactional, they care about getting a task done or what you can do for them. They never ask about your day or call you to checkup on you, they only call when they need something. It is a cold relationship, that does not lead to trust. It also makes it difficult to be honest with them or to trust them.
Back The People You Manage
People make mistakes and so do you. If someone makes a mistake based on advice you provided, own that, don't blame the person you provided the advice to.
If you direct reports makes a mistake, address with them privately and provide feedback on what they can do differently next time. Don't through them under the bus. If they keep making the same mistake , that is different issue and can be addressed with other methods.
If you discuss the mistake and how to avoid it in the future, instead of yelling, you will be surprised at the response, I find they will think about the consequences and consider the ramifications before making a change. Empower your people to fail and learn from those failures but you need to build trust for this to work.
These are just a few ideas to help better manage people. I have read many books on this topic and most of them stink or are too much theory to truly make it work. Those books think you work in a perfect environment, were everything will work or are old idea's. Not all books are bad, some are good.
At the end of the day is is establishing a relationship, being constant, holding people accountable, having difficult conversation and making decisions that keeps your team in mind.