This post is for all those frustrated managers out there — I was in corporate for 20+ years and managed many large teams of dedicated people. It's one of the hardest positions to have — there's a lot of uncertainty when it comes to high-level decisions.
1. I should have worked harder to keep my best person.
The simple truth is — if they're your best, they're going to flee at some point. And there's nothing you can do about it.
When people get 'the itch' — moving upwards or onward — there are very few things you can do to hold them back. Why? Because the single action of 'holding them back' delivers the exact opposite reaction within that person. They want to grow, meet new people, experience new challenges, and make more money.
I always say — if one of your people have made the decision to leave — help them and don't get in the way. You will make a friend forever — and maybe someday — you can hire them back when you start at another company.
2. I should have spent more time growing and motivating my people.
Yes, you should have. One of the most important duties of every manager is to motivate, grow, and push their team. If you're not doing that on a regular basis, you're not managing. It's that simple.
Take time at least once a week to better understand the motivators with each direct report you manage. Do they need more attention? Less attention? More direction? Accolades? Acknowledgment? Money? Understand the motivators and you will key into what drives them to do better work and deliver 150%.
3. I should be more effective managing upwards.
You are absolutely correct. But don't focus 100% of your efforts towards this. You'll then turn into a suck-up — and no one likes a suck-up.
Find out the motivators and deliverables of your manager and help them in any way you can to deliver on their projects. It not only gives you the opportunity to learn new techniques and challenges, it allows you (and your team) to hone in on what's really critical for the company.
Also, LISTEN. Don't always go to your boss with problems. Be a sounding board and a trusted resource. Listen to what they say - don't try to solve the problem at first, just be Larry King and keep asking questions. Get them to open up. They will LOVE you for it.
4. Why do I keep hiring the wrong people?
Put on your seat belt — this is going to be a bumpy ride.
- Be VERY clear about the job description. Know exactly what you want in a person and what you want them to do. Most manager screw this up or are very lackadaisical about it.
- Make time for the interview. Don't rush it. Ask key questions which will elicit answers to allow you to better understand each applicant and their experience.
- Most of all - look for enthusiasm and fit. You want someone who has an internal power source which is ready to rock every day. In addition, you want to look for nice people, not jerks. This is a gut call sometimes, but with the right questions, you will better understand each applicant.
- Hone in on 2-3 finalists and then have your people check them out. Also, tell them as much about the company, the position, and the environment as possible. You are looking for a good fit.
5. I need to better document performance issues.
Yes, you should. And it's not that difficult. You should do two things:
Have two files for each direct report — one for all the good things they do and one for all the performance issues. Document, document, document.
- Sunshine file - all the good things. Keep the emails, the testimonials, the comments from clients, etc. Comes in handy at review time or when they're having a bad day.
- Performance file - Add quick notes with the date, time, people involved, and the issue. Keep to the facts and don't add any emotion or perspective. If it starts to become an issue - get your HR rep involved immediately. Better safe than sorry.
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P.S. How did you like this article? Let me know! If you are interested in what I can do for you, let’s talk. I work with managers all over the world who have the same questions — and we developed a successful action plan. I schedule infrequent complimentary (i.e., free) sessions – catch one today.