Did you know that September is National Self Improvement Month? Well, now you do!
As a boss or manager, you’re probably spending most of your time trying to find ways to improve your business and improve your staff. Sometimes you might forget to take a look in the mirror to see whether they are things that you can change about yourself that can directly lead to making both your staff and business better.
That’s what Self Improvement Month is all about – analyzing yourself and setting goals that are going to make you better at what you do.
Becoming the best manager that you can be is an ongoing process. It’s something that you need to constantly work at, because there’s an ever-changing and evolving skill set that is required of a good manager, dictated by the fast-changing landscape of the modern workplace.
Not sure where to start? Here are a ideas to consider if you are looking to become a better manager for the sake of your business and your employees.
Improve the Way You Offer Feedback
Offering feedback, whether it’s criticism or praise, has practically become an art form. It’s something that just about any manager can stand to improve on, simply because there are many fine lines that need to be tiptoed in the process.
No matter how you go about offering feedback, you need to make sure that it’s constructive above all else. This is where you probably come to the finest line of all – the line between being overly critical and constructive. Tempers may flair in the workplace, employees might be underachieving, but that’s something that every manager has to figure out how to deal with the right way.
And while you might believe that you are going about it the correct way, you’d be surprised at how many times the employee’s perception of your approach is much different from yours. You could be trying to be fair and critical, but actually coming across as angry and insulting to your staff. It happens a lot.
Even if you think you have a solid handle on things, it never hurts to take a step back and access the way you evaluate your employees to see if there is any room for improvements, because there usually is.
Whether you are criticizing the shortcomings of your team or specific employees or offering employees praise to motivate them to continue working hard for you, these are processes that you need to continually analyze, define and strive to improve upon if you want to grow as a manager and leader.
Be More Open to New Ideas
How open are you to trying new ideas and listening to people outside of management for tips and fresh directions? Probably not enough. As a manager, it isn’t unusual to be a bit afraid of taking risks and trying new things, because you are always aware of the bottom line and how costly any type of mistake can be to your business.
But taking risks is the only way your business is going to grow. The best managers understand that. That’s why you’ll usually find that the best and most successful companies have managers who are flexible, willing to go out on a limb, adaptable to changes and always interested in hearing about new ideas – no matter where they are coming from.
If you want to try opening yourself up to new ideas, start with being a better listener. Some of the best ideas you’ll get will come directly from your staff. And it makes perfect sense. They are the people who are working in the trenches day in and day out. It shouldn’t be surprising that they have a few ideas on what could be done to make various facets of the business run better, especially those parts that they are directly responsible for on a daily basis.
The role of a leader is to encourage creativity and constantly work to find new ways to inspire creative thinking on all levels of your organization. Employees appreciate being able to have some input in the process as well. In fact, it has been proven that employees who are not encouraged to think creatively and offer solutions on a regular basis often feel unmotivated and are very commonly already looking for employment elsewhere.
Including them in the process not only gives you a great source of fresh new ideas to consider, it also helps you retain your best and brightest staff members.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal
Many managers fear getting too close to their staff on a personal level, because they are afraid that being a nice guy can often be perceived as a weakness. That’s not the case at all. In fact, employees love it when managers take an interest in them and their lives outside of the workplace.
It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, all of your employees are people who have lives of their own. Taking an interest in these lives shows that you care for them on a deeper level, which gives breeds a greater sense of engagement and inclusion.
Getting to know your employees on a more personal level doesn’t just mean talking to them about their personal lives. It also means getting to know what their work lives are like more personally. What are their professional goals? What motivates them to be better employees? Where do they see themselves professionally in five years? Do you do enough to facilitate their professional aspirations?
The best managers are able to connect their visions for the business with the visions of their employees. If you want to achieve more meaningful employee engagement and are intent on keeping your best employees around and allowing them to grow professionally within your company, you need to listen to their personal experiences and aspirations and try to align their goals with your own.
Set Clearer Goals for Your Team
Before you can start aligning your goals with employee goals, you need to be able to define both. Most managers put a lot of time into defining well-conceived and detailed business strategies, but they often fail to do the same for their employees.
This is another crucial part of doing employee evaluations the right way. The best way to encourage employees to do better work is to give them very clear, measurable goals that are easy to follow and gauge. It makes your job and their jobs a lot easier.
In order to create realistic and achievable goals for your employees, you need to include them in the process from the start. Collaborate with them and talk openly about what you expect from them and what they expect from themselves.
In the end, it’s all about improving internal communication and making sure that everyone’s voices are heard and acknowledged in the process.
Work On Your Personal Brand
You’ve spent a lot of time focusing on your business and, hopefully, you’re going to be spending more time focusing on your employees. But don’t forget about setting some time aside to focus on yourself.
Book time on your schedule during which you’re going to analyze your shortcomings as a manager and brainstorm to find ways in which you can improve yourself. It’s really isn’t a bad idea to include your staff in this process either. Create a survey for your staff asking them questions about yourself and the job you do (make sure it’s anonymous so they don’t hold back) and let them guide you in the right direction.
It’s always good to have more than one opinion and point of view, even when you’re analyzing yourself. By allowing your staff members to make comments on the work that you do, you are opening yourself to criticism and showing your team that you not only value their opinions, but that you don’t consider yourself to be superior or untouchable in the grand scheme of things. You are part of the team, just like they are.
Humility is a great characteristic for managers to have, because you’re letting staff know that you are trying to create an atmosphere at work in which everyone can stand to improve, management included.