A hint: It’s way beyond pep talks, good organization, and discipline when necessary.
Don’t you want your team to be on fire? Not just doing their job, but really killing it? As a leader, you know where you’re going, but you also need to be a good manager to drive an entire team to get there.
A lot of things about being a good manager are counter-intuitive, including some of the things I’m about to cover in this post. However, being a good manager is an attainable skill.
Based on our experience from working with hundreds of startup managers and thousands of employees, the most important thing you need to know about management is this: You need to create a succession of successes for your team.
You must do this because success leads to more success. When an employee or an entire team reaches success, they feel empowered, confident in their abilities and more motivated to reach their goals. Also, being a good manager is all about making it your responsibility to ensure that your employees succeed.
The two common pitfalls of managers
Before you try to make your team successful, you need to learn how to avoid these two pitfalls. These are mistakes most managers make:
1. Not managing according to time. Most managers don’t run their teams with a time frame in mind. They manage one day at a time. When an employee completes their task, they come to their manager for the next task. This creates a feeling of endless, meaningless work.
2. Creating instability. Instability is what you get when you keep on adding or changing tasks all the time. When you do this, you set your employees up for failure because you keep moving the target further and further away from them. It means they can never complete what they said they’d complete.
It’s true that sometimes changes are necessary, so allocate time for the unexpected. But don’t turn adding and changing tasks into a habit. Employees cannot feel they’re succeeding if their target keeps moving away from them.
Being a good manager: A successful team is five steps away
1. Share the company’s high level goals.
To generate a high level of commitment, deep understanding and strong motivation, you need to share your high level goals with your team. Since people search for meaning, the meaning of all their work is in the ultimate goals. Knowing the high level goals gives meaning to the tasks. When workers know the high level goals, tasks become part of something bigger that everyone is trying to achieve together.
2. Define tasks for one week.
A week is an easy-to-grasp time frame. It’s straightforward for people to estimate what they can get done in a week.
So instead of managing one day at a time, create a list of tasks for one week each time. The tasks should be things the team can definitely do. This is the most important thing about the list: Don’t write down things you want to do next week, right down what you will do next week. A team that says “this will get done” and then gets it done is an effective team.
3. Decide on tasks together. Make sure that the people who are supposed to execute the tasks are on board. This will ensure that tasks actually get done. At the end of each week, talk to your team and decide together what you’re all going to do next week. As a result, the tasks will contribute to reaching the high level goals.
4. Create clear tasks.
When you give an employee a task, they need to be able to understand exactly what it is and how to complete it. Otherwise, you’re setting them up for failure. For example:
Vague task = Clean kitchen.
Clear task = Wash dishes; throw out expired products; wash floor; take out trash.
Clear tasks = Doable tasks = Success.
5. Acknowledge and give recognition for doing, not for achieving. If you give your employees tasks, then you need to give them recognition for completing tasks. Tasks are things we do, not things we achieve. Things we achieve are often out of our control. Things we do aren’t. Don’t wait to see the results of the task. Give positive reinforcement and actionable feedback when the task is completed. This will make your employee feel successful and geared towards more success.
- Share your company’s high level goals so your team will know what they are working to achieve.
- Manage tasks by a one-week time frame to generate fast wins and a feeling of success.
- Manage your team to be successful by first giving them tasks you know they can complete. Success brings more success.
- Recognize in public and in person the completion of tasks you give.
Setting goals requires leadership – reaching them requires good management.
The views expressed are of the author.
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Featured Image Credit: Barry Bahler at Creative Commons