By HYMA PILLAY
WHAT is a manager? A manager is the person responsible for directing the work of a group of individuals. He or she is a leader who supervises and guides the actions and work of the individuals working under his or her supervision.
While a manager can get by simply by giving out instructions and making sure work is done, a second-mile manager will go the extra length to also motivate, inspire, and earn the respect of individuals within his/her team.
He/she goes beyond the basic operational expectations to also embrace their position as a leader of a diverse group of individuals.
Here are some simple thoughts for those who want to be second-mile managers:
1 Motivate your people
There are many ways you can keep your team encouraged and motivated. Find out what drives them and use that as a motivation for their productivity.
Among the things you can do is to offer rewards and recognition for good work and behaviour. Make it a point to acknowledge and give praises in front of other team members as well.
You may also practise delivering frequent feedback on their work. Let them know what they are doing right and also areas where they can improve. Tell your team that you believe in them, and they will believe in themselves. You may see higher productivity as a result.
2 Set goals
Set clear and concrete goals for your team. Make sure everyone in the team has a clear understanding of what to expect and what they need to achieve. Remind them of the goals frequently to keep them focused on their work.
You can also get your team members to set personal goals for themselves. Give them a timeline and ask them what they plan to achieve by the end of that time.
It could be a personal or career aspiration, or a goal for the company itself. Remember, your goals have to be specific and measurable.
3 Be available
An effective manager is also an effective communicator. Make yourself available for your team. Keep the door open for them to come and speak to you when they need to.
Make it clear to them that they can come when they have questions and concerns. Listen and encourage the people under you when they need it most.
It is also good to take interest in your team. Get to know them better outside of work. Don’t make every conversation with them strictly business. It’s okay to keep a friendly rapport with your team, just keep in mind to not be evasive.
4 Empower your team
Recognise the importance of making your team members feel empowered. Provide opportunities for them to make decisions, and take on projects on their own, and do not micro manage.
Let them know that you trust them enough to hand them important tasks, and allow room for mistakes. Allow them to make mistakes, as mistakes are one of the best ways for a person to learn.
When they do make mistakes, don’t throw the blame on them. Communicate with them and find out what went wrong, and offer solutions and point on how they could have done it better. Also give them the opportunity to think of solutions on their own.
5 Be humble and teachable
Humble managers are more effective and better liked by their team members. Being humble does not mean being timid. An effective manager should be gentle, but strong at the same time.
Being humble means having the ability to admit that you too, are capable of making mistakes, and you can use those mistakes as lessons to help you grow and improve.
Humility is also reflected by being thankful and appreciative of the people you have working under you.
You should not look at yourself as a person who is above the team that you are managing, but rather as the person who is meant to guide them.
Remember that as much as they are learning from you, you can also learn from them.
6 Advocate for your team
Being an effective manager means that you have to be the team leader. At times difficult clients or competitors may cause trouble for your team members.
Your role is to always ensure your team has your full support. Stand up for them and fight for them whenever they need you to.
If they are in the wrong, don’t bring it up with them in public, but take it offline and discuss with them personally about their mistakes.
7 Practise equality
While it is easy to subconsciously pay more attention to those who seem to like us more, it is important to always treat each of our team members equally.
Provide equal career and leadership opportunities for everyone in the team. Each and every one of them has the potential to shine if you give them the chance to do so.
8 Delegate tasks responsibly
An effective manager delegates tasks wisely. Don’t just dump work on your team without knowing their capabilities and existing workload.
Be reasonable when delegating work. Before you give out work, first check if they would actually be able to carry it out. You may need to give them a longer deadline or get them to share the task with another team member.
9 Act as a mentor and coach
As a manager, you are not only accountable for your team’s work, but also to provide them with sufficient tools to enable them to succeed as a team.
Your team may lack the skills and experience that you have, so it is up to you to train them and get them equipped. Be clear with them on objectives, directions and requirements and set paths for them to achieve these goals.
A second-mile manager gets tasks done, but goes beyond that, recognising that they are leading a group of people. They take responsibility over the growth of each individual and invest time into strengthening team bonds. What more can you do as a manager to lead your team?
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