A colleague of mine had the opportunity to provide input into hiring her manager’s replacement. She liked her former manager quite a lot, but there were some things that annoyed her because…humans.
That said, she was wondering what types of questions she should ask, and what qualities she should be looking for. Having heard hundreds of horror stories about bad managers, I was able to jump in and make some suggestions.
She would need to ask open-ended questions, for example:
I asked her to notice if this person listened to her. Someone who cuts you off, or says unflattering things about their former company or team is a big red flag.
Mostly, I told her to trust her gut.
If I’ve gotten you thinking about how you can be a great manager that people WANT to work for, here are some suggestions.
Ask for input
Employees want to feel like their opinion matters. They will be more engaged and have more commitment to their jobs if they feel like they are able, even in a small way, to influence the way things are done.
Acknowledge ideas and successes
It is very demoralizing to have your manager forget to acknowledge your great idea, or in a more sinister scenario, take credit for your great idea.
Ditto for not calling out wins and achievements. If you want to have a cohesive team, boost morale by remembering who did what – and calling it out in meetings so other team members or leadership hear about it.
This is an easy thing to do and the return can be exponential.
Create a safe environment
Everything will not always go perfectly. Even with the best planning projects go over budget, timelines are missed, and prototypes don’t work. It’s the world we live in. You need to let people know that it’s okay to fail.
Corporate cultures of blaming and shaming are toxic. Good ideas die because people are scared to share them and your best talent starts looking for other options.
And, to state the obvious, people need to fell physically safe. Yelling, threatening, and making sexual advances are not appropriate in the workplace.
I’ve personally experienced all of those, however.
If you as the manager are challenged by some situation, it might be appropriate to share that.
If someone on the team leaves or has to be laid off, it might be appropriate to address the elephant in the room at the beginning of the next team meeting. Sweeping it under the rug doesn’t work, and fear and gossip can create a toxic work environment.
Bring your full self, and encourage others to bring their full selves, to work as well. You might be surprised by what the team bonds on – food, wine, travel, music, art, sports – we have interests outside of work!
At Arthur Andersen and Deloitte, I worked with a bunch of foodies. We were always sharing restaurant suggestions. It was an easy and fun topic of conversation and we all contributed.
Provide constructive feedback and support
If someone messes up, don’t embarrass them in front of the team. Have a conversation with them privately. Ask for details if you need to. Listen to their side of the story. Coach them on some ways to improve, if appropriate.
Do not wait to have this conversation! Have it as soon as possible. Saving it for their annual review is a recipe for bad feelings all around.
Let them know you have their back and you will support them. This will win you major loyalty points.
If all of this seems like common sense, you’re right.
But like common sense, it’s surprisingly uncommon.
So, do these things and you will manage like a boss, and your team will follow you anywhere.