The other day I was reflecting that it's been more than a decade and a half since I've been managing people. No matter how long it's been, I always come back to these five principles as a manager.
It takes years to build up trust and only seconds to destroy it.
You may have the word “manager” in your job title, but without the trust of the people you’re managing, you’re only a manager by title. There is no follower who is taking your lead. Therefore, the first and foremost activity that you will want to do as a new manager is to build trust with your people. One easy way to do this is to embody integrity; say what you will do and do what you said.
How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.
Work is a part of anyone’s life and this is true even for the least hardworking employee in your team. We spend so much of our waking hours at work. If you have a manager that makes you feel inadequate, unvalued and excluded, you will not want to do your best. A manager needs to know what makes each of their employee ticks and make them feel valued, respected and included in order to get the best out of them. A good manager goes a step further by making their people believe that they can achieve anything together.
Being clear is kind.
Brené Brown, the author of Dare to Lead said it best in her book. Clear Is Kind. Unclear Is Unkind. Being clear as a manager means providing clear instructions, context and expectations in order for team members to perform the job well. Not being clear with expectation but blaming people after the fact after they have delivered something that didn’t match your expectation is not only causing time and money but also respect and loyalty.
Feedback is a gift.
“I only ever give positive feedback. I don’t like to make people feel uncomfortable. I’m a good manager,” says a bad manager.
Constructive feedback does not just mean negative feedback. The University of Tasmania explains what constructive feedback is:
Constructive feedback can be positive (letting someone know they’re doing well), negative (letting people know about ways in which things could be improved), or neutral (just an objective observation).”
Constructive feedback is a gift because it’s given with the intent to direct you towards a positive outcome. Those who provide constructive feedback are those who are real leaders because they have the best interest of others in mind and the willingness to elevate others for success — even if the process of giving such feedback can be uncomfortable.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
One of the most impact thing that a manager can do is to create a team where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. No matter how smart or hard-working an individual may be, they cannot be successful if they are not a team player. Teamwork is now more important than ever as companies embrace remote work with distributed teams who need to come together across the globe to deliver business outcomes. As technology becomes more advanced, companies need to deliver solution that are more sophisticated and complex to meet the expectation of customers today. In this era, managers that fosters team work and psychology safety enables team members to collaborate more effectively and have a greater chance of achieving their goals.
Good management is a responsibility
There are plenty of advice out there for new and seasoned managers on what to do. Knowing what to do is important, but what is more important as a manager is to know what not to do and avoid doing them. This is because as a manager, your actions are magnified and you have the authority to affect more people than yourself.
I want to share with you my favourite quote on leadership, by John Maxwell who is a well-known author and speaker on the topic of leadership.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
As a manager, it’s not enough to tell people what to do. You must first know the direction and share this information openly. Even then, words alone aren’t so powerful. You have to start leading the way and involve people along the journey. Others will follow your lead more willingly when you’ve embodied and demonstrated the essential principles of good managers.
Whether you are a new manager or a seasoned one, I hope you find these principles useful.