It is generally a daunting journey but this doesn’t have to be the case
By AMANDA CHUA
Congratulations! You have been promoted to manager. However, for some, this may not be a positive news or a desired upward career progression.
Despite the well-remunerated managerial position and professional opportunities it promises, there are individuals who rather stay in their current role and prefer not to move up to managerial positions.
Being a manager is an entirely different ballgame, with it being one of the most stressful and challenging transitions in any career due to the significant change in working styles, habits, and most importantly – managing a group or workforce.
Your initial script which got you promoted as a leader, focusing mainly on “me” and “my” success as an individual contributor may not be exactly what is needed for you to be an effective manager.
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It is now about “we” and the collective group success whereby part of your success is largely hinged on the contribution of others.
Having an engaging manager is paramount, as it is said,
People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.
Much of employees’ experiences and engagement levels are created by their direct managers to intentionally foster healthy relationships connecting with each employee with frequent feedback and constant communication.
Yet, 75% of employees end up being disengaged due to dissatisfied relationships with their direct bosses which ultimately leads to a decrease in productivity and morale with higher likelihood of absenteeism and resignation.
With all the evidence pointing towards the need for an engaged manager, here are four fundamental engagement strategies to create an engaged team of your own:
1. Identify talent for the right fit
Knowing how to identify the suitable talent to match the role is important as the right job-fit improves engagement and maximises performance.
By knowing our talents and how we are naturally wired, we would know where to best invest our time and effort for higher chances towards success, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach that does not lead to full engagement.
One of the ways to identify talents is by knowing your team’s strengths. Gallup’s Cliffton Strengths believes that when we build our strengths, our performance exponentially increases even without focusing on managing our weaknesses.
People who focus on their strengths are six times as likely to be engaged at work which leads to higher learning gains, lower turnover and greater productivity.
Consider your team member’s talents in mind when managing your team with these questions: “Do your team members have the chance to do their best work each day?
Are your team members working on what they are strong at or their tasks are randomly assigned? Do you know about and understand your team strengths?”
As managers, we can leverage on strengths by providing each team member the opportunity to operate from where their strength lies with the opportunity to further develop them on their jobs.
Identifying your team’s unique talents would also build a stronger team as it enables the team to build relationships and work better with one another.
2. Be a great manager by setting expectations for high performance
A manager’s primary responsibility is to lead and inspire team towards performance but many mangers do not own the task of helping team members set and achieve their goals.
Without knowing what is expected of them, employees struggle to be effective at work.
Great workplaces have managers who define the right key results and performance outcomes in line with the organisation’s direction and strategies.
Doing this with the team members from the onset does not only define the job scope but also what success looks like on the job.
“A manager is 100% accountable for results of that 80% is delegated” which indicates that a huge responsibility of the outcome lies within the manager for performance.
For this to be successful, expectations established would have to be at the top of their mind with the right performance management mechanism and support in place.
Employees also need to know if they are performing well and on the right track to meet the required standards.
A great manager would enable this by providing frequent real-time feedback with constant communication and regular check-ins to clarify expectations, help manage priorities and keep their performance in check.
No one goal setting is the same where each may have their own route towards attaining those desired outcomes.
About 69% of employees are more engaged when their managers are involved in the goal-setting process.
A collaborative approach customised according to the individual’s aspiration and development path builds ownership and inspires performance.
Employees are also more willing to experiment, be innovative and try new things when the manager communicates confidence in their direct reports with the freedom and autonomy to reach their objectives.
Conversations on expectation setting and measures of performance can begin with these questions, “What are the measures used to evaluate the performance of our team and of each other?
How do I set objectives with my team? How often do I sit down with my team members and discuss their progress?”
3. Create an engaged workforce that is motivated towards high performance
Employees thrive in a safe and supportive environment with access to managers who are open, approachable and available whenever the employee needs support. Having a responsive hands-on manager where they are heard and get the support needed whenever they encounter problems, encourages high performance.
To motivate achievement and accountability, managers need to develop a healthy relationship that is built on trust, respect and cooperation.
These positive interactions can be facilitated through meaningful conversations and consistent individual checkpoints.
Having a platform for two-way feedback allows managers to address the achievement needs at hand more immediately and help team members to perform their job better by removing roadblocks.
This fosters a greater mutual understanding of employee and organisational needs and shared ownership which contributes to a healthy sustainable working relationship.
This is also an opportunity for managers to initiate coaching conversations to progressively align on performance expectations and manage priorities, especially in this VUCA changing work environment.
Managers can harnesses their employees’ deeper internal motivation by creating win-win strategies to help meet their KPIs to reach organisational goals.
Having frequent ongoing feedback about their performance contributes to more engaging and high performing employees as they are held accountable for their progress often and success is more easily measured.
The best managers get to know their subordinates as people first beyond who they are at their work. They build authentic relationships by showing genuine care and having candid conversations on their wants and what engages them.
These “soft” aspects of people managing such as rapport building and being empathetic encourages their subordinates to be open and honest with their manager.
This provides managers the opportunity to take into account the different individual qualities and inherent motivations to empower them towards high performance.
Here are the few questions to consider towards creating an engaged team:
How well do you know your team? Do you know what motivates them? Do you keep them at arm’s length or do you know what’s most important to them personally? How do I let my team members know that I care about their successes? How do I let them know that I am there to support them?
Pic source: Gallup
4. Focus on strengths for development
Engaging and retaining top talent is one of the most challenging aspect of managing teams yet a crucial element in employee engagement.
In a global Gallup’s Q12™ engagement survey study, two out of five key questions that separates the most successful companies from the rest relates to employee development:
“There is someone at work who encourages my development” and “This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.”
If the organisation does not provide the right environment for growth and career development, chances are you would lose your high talent to other companies.
According to Gallup, “the greatest potential for growth and success comes from helping people discover and develop their most dominant talents.”
Building employees’ strengths is a far more effective approach than creating a team of well-rounded individuals by improving their weaknesses.
Gallup studies shown that great managers engages and realises their team member’s potential through strengths-based approach. To be a more effective manager, target your development efforts by fostering your team member’s dominant strengths to propel the individual for growth.
Additionally, one of the best practices as a strengths based development manager is to reinforce, leverage and synergise your team’s strengths through work delegation and recognition.
Pic source: Gallup
Managers play a crucial role in understanding and exploring employee’s career development expectations to positively improve employee performance.
Good managers would individualise their team member’s development needs and design a unique career path for each employee to reach their fullest potential.
Employees are more productive when the company creates a learning environment such as access to formal training and development, having a structured career development pathway, working on the job learning and career advancement opportunities, e.g. promotion.
Managers who provide effective feedback on how to do their work competently with the necessary guidance and resources given contributes largely towards employee development and engagement.
As a first time manager, asking questions that looks at development considerations like, “How do I help my people develop? How do I help them find the right tasks, jobs, and career paths?
How does my team members define “development opportunities”?” would be a good way start to create the right environment for learning and growth.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts
While the above recommendations would help you lead your team better, the result is greater when, according to Gallup, four human capital strategies can be combined together to create a greater return as much as 59% more revenue growth per employee.
Gallup introduces the “Additive Effect” where the culmination of its parts used in tandem is more effective compared to just a single strategy employed on its own. As a manager, you have what it takes to take your team towards new heights.