fivekeysYour job as a manager is not only to support and enforce high standards of quality and productivity on the part of your employees, but also to model those standards in your own work and character. There’s no formula for perfect coaching: it calls as much for insight as for technique, and what works with one person might not work with the next. But there are some characteristics and skills that successful managers seem to have in common. Here’s a list of five key practices that successful managers use consistently:
#1 Set and communicate effective and realistic goals
Some organizations actively involve several levels of management in the goal setting process. In other organizations, you’re given your department’s goals and have to translate those goals to the teams you manage. In either case, it’s important you set goals that meet the following criteria:
- Specific and measurable
- Stated in positive terms
- Are directed to results rather than attempts.
- Have a reasonable chance of being reached.
#2 Create action plans
Useful action plans outline reasonable, logical steps for reaching the goal. Ideally, the action plan should be created by the person pursuing the goal rather than by that person’s manager, you. Here’s an example:
Goal: I’ll achieve CSP-I certification by June 1.
- I’ll set aside two hours every Tuesday and Thursday for the next four weeks to complete the self-study coursework.
- I’ll practice the skills on the job while carrying out my everyday duties on the job for two weeks following completion of the online course.
- I’ll pass the certification test by June 1.
#3 Use positive language
Positive language is a key communication skill for building rapport, encouraging cooperation and heading off potentially adversarial interactions with employees. It’s the art of communicating in a positive, supportive tone. Take for example the following two statements:
“I don’t have time right now to talk to you about it.”
“I can talk with you about it right after lunch.”
The message is the same—now is not a good time to talk about “it”. The second statement, however, seems much more positive and supportive.
The greatest gift you can give someone is your full attention. As challenging as it may be to stop for a moment and focus on what your employee is saying, it is worth it. Not only will you earn respect, you’ll also gain valuable insight into your employees’ state of mind, urgency, attitude, and, no doubt, how best to respond.
#5 Maintain a sense of humor
Good-natured humor has a valuable place in the workplace. It can defuse tension, encourage camaraderie, and make life in the office a lot more fun. There’s no reason why you can’t take your job seriously and at the same time know when some lighthearted humor is called for. Maybe it’s a shared anecdote or simply some innocent kidding. Showing your sense of humor—assuming it’s fit for prime time consumption—can make you more approachable and human to your employees. And, if it’s done right, everyone will go home feeling good.
Practice these 5 tips and you’ll be well on your way toward being an outstanding manager! For more tips, download our white paper, Best Practices for Improving Supervisory Skills, today.
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