When I was laid off three years ago, it was a challenge for me to start in a new position at a lower level. Luckily my boss was older and wiser than I was in this new industry, so that made respecting him and taking a back seat much easier.
I imagine a lot of Managers and Directors are learning to manage teams that have more experience than they do, more education, are older, or come from a different industry. Maybe you’re working with my generation, the Y generation, which I have heard can be a challenge in itself. Sorry boss! A year and a half into being a training manager, I think my boss and I have figured out how to marry my experience and how I manage my time, with how he wants to manage me and my time.
Here’s what managers can do to avoid common employee pains:
Talk to each other. We are all busy, eyes down, getting our work done. This doesn’t work if you are trying to get to know your team. And let’s face it, you should always be getting to know your team. My boss and I meet at least twice a month, just he and I. This has helped shape our working relationship.
Keep talking to each other. I enjoy feedback, and my boss is very aware of it. If you’re lucky to have an employee who can speak up about what they need from you, take the hint. Being able to go to my boss and express what I need from him to get my job done has made me a stronger and wiser employee and manager in my own right. And did I mention more productive too?
Encourage questions. I love questions almost as much as I love making lists. I think every boss I have ever had probably thinks at some point, “Does she even know what she’s doing?” Processes sometimes get lost in translation or as a manager you’ve made instructions ambiguous. Questions are a tool. Welcome them. Let your staff use you as a resource as you use them as a resource.
Ask their opinion. Engage your people. As a manager, you have a team there standing ready to help. You need an innovative way to do something? Gather your team and brainstorm. Don’t take it all on yourself. It’s human nature for people to want to help each other. Because you’ve developed relationships with everyone, (right?) you now have the ability to carry on valuable conversations that promote better performance.
Delegate. When I’ve managed teams I’ve have had these conversations with myself: “If I could just get this one thing done right then I can move on to the 10 reports I have to run and 15 responses to customers I have to make and it will be fine.” How many times did that one little thing, that I absolutely could have handed off, affect the rest of my day? Countless times. Most people want to improve, want to grow and want to be given the opportunity to learn something new or do more. Let them rise to the occasion. You may be surprised at their performance and get to free up your time to…well grow your team professionally. At first delegation takes away time, but in the future it will save you time. Delegate.
Have fun. A happy employee equals a happy work life. It’s important to do little things for your team. Essentially, people just want human contact, to know what they do matters, to be recognized somehow, a thank you card spelling out how they WOW’d you. You’ll increase an employee’s happiness because you took the time and made the effort to show you think about their work as much as they do.
As a manager, you already know all of this. My words aren’t new ideas and shouldn’t be a revelation. However, in this economic environment, we need little reminders that we don’t have to take on the world ourselves. We can create valuable teams and therefore, become valuable as an essential part of any organization.
Remember: A great team equals a great manager.
By guest blogger Christina Sorrillo, Training Manager in the restaurant industry, professional business organizer, event planner, blogger…and life lover! Christina has been the Training Manager at Quiznos, Customer Relations Manager at Land Rover AutoNation and Customer Relations Manager at Northridge Toyota. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado.