Welcome to my first solo episode in my new Reflect Forward Series: Advice From a CEO. Beginning this week, I am going to a new format where one week, I will be posting my interviews with exceptional leaders. Then in the other weeks, I will be answering questions and talking about leadership…solo! This week, I discuss soliciting feedback from your direct reports and six ways to be a better manager.
I hope you enjoy it. Please share your feedback with me as I would love to know what you love, or what you hate, or if you think I should go back to interviewing people.
On to the episode…
I recently had a conversation with an amazing woman trying to figure out how to be a better CEO. We talked about all kinds of interesting things, the most relevant being feedback and the importance of soliciting feedback from your direct reports and creating a safe place for them to do so. I shared our process at StoneAge, which includes managers get formal, direct feedback from each of their direct reports as part of our quarterly performance conversations. I share a story about feedback that I recently received from one of my direct reports via this formal process that was insightful, helpful, and valid. It’s easy to be in your own head and assume that what’s in your head as in everybody else’s, and that’s just not true. This feedback was a great reminder. Listen in to hear the story!
Next, I talk management.
There are many attributes and qualities that can be assigned to good managers, such as being a decent listener, accountable, organized, motivating, honest, and having a positive outlook on life. While these are all important, they are the minimum requirements of good management.
So what makes a manager GREAT?
In developing my own managerial skills and helping others to do the same, I have found that accomplishing these six things will help a good manager become a GREAT manager. Here are the highlights; tune in for the details.
- Connect Through Regular One-on-One Meetings
The best way to build strong relationships is to have regular one-on-one meetings with each team member. Most people want to share certain aspects of their lives and appreciate when their boss takes the time to get to know them better, especially when it comes to personal and career aspirations.
- Right Seat on the Bus
It’s not enough to have talent on your team; your employees must be in the right seat on the bus to do fantastic work. Great managers recognize their employees will be at their best when their talents and strengths align with their roles. It will result in happier, more productive, and engaged team members who enjoy their work.
- Continuous Improvement
There are many ways to make an organization better and great managers are committed to continually improving. They understand that the intentional pursuit of honing processes, teamwork, goal-setting, cultural issues, communication, collaboration, and quality and content of work product will reduce obstacles that frustrate employees and make the organization stronger.
- Good Decision-Making
Leaders who make good decisions and empower their teams to do the same are highly regarded in most organizations. Good decision-making builds trust and credibility and creates success. Improve your decision-making skills by slowing down, listening more, and considering all possibilities.
- Rally Teams Around the Bigger Picture by Tying it to the Daily Picture
A job is just a job (aka a paycheck) when you can’t see how it’s tied to the bigger picture. Great managers understand that most of us want to be part of something greater than ourselves and tap into that motivation by ensuring every employee understands and cares about the company strategy and vision for the future. Be transparent, talk about and get feedback on the vision and strategy often, engage more than just the usual suspects in vision and goal development, and celebrate small and big wins often.
- Radically Candid
I saved the most important for last; if you must pick just one of these points to work on, improving how you give feedback should be at the top of the list. Great managers are always candid and address performance issues directly and timely. They show they care by being honest, compassionate, and holding their team accountable to high standards. They never take the easy way out by putting off tough conversations, sugar coating bad news, or letting their desire to be liked to get in the way. If you want to get better at giving feedback, I highly recommend reading “Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” by Kim Scott. It’s a game-changer.
Mastering these six points will not only help you become a better manager but, more importantly, will help you develop good employees into great ones. And that’s the legacy all rock star managers should want to leave behind.
Like this? Check out my blog on why being a transparent leader matters.