Several years ago, I was responsible for developing an operations manual for our commercial store managers.
Below is an abridged version of it.
These are seven basic, excellent tips for the new (or any) manager to follow in order to become more the leader and less “the boss.”
7 Tips for New Leaders
1) Be Visible
- Be present. Especially if you have a tendency to spend time in your office or out on the road, keep in mind that either way your people don’t see you. To know you they must see you.
- Walk around. Get in the habit of taking some time every day just walking around. Vary the time each day, and just observe things. Watch people. Be friendly and approachable. Greet people, smile, make small talk. And don’t always be about work: ask people about their families, about their weekends, about vacations. Show people that you notice them, and know them. Doing this will make them feel special and valued.
- Lighten up. Show a sense of humor. This doesn’t mean you have to be a comedian or a clown. But it does mean being able to laugh at yourself, at mistakes and screw ups.
2) Recognize and Reward the “Good Stuff”
- Be positive. Catch people doing things right. Don’t let an outstanding act or performance (no matter how small) pass without comment. Wherever possible, make your comment in public.
- Be specific. Make your compliment specific, and tell what its significance is to the business.
- Be understanding. If someone who is “on the bubble” does something even approximately right, comment on their effort, and show your appreciation.
3) Observe and Correct the “Bad Stuff”
- Correct now. If you see something that’s a safety, customer service or policy issue, correct it on the spot. As privately as you can, go over the mistake, the standard, and the correction. Gauge their reaction and try to end on a positive note.
- Key people. Spend a little extra time with any supervisors you’re empowering to lead their teams. Make sure they’re demonstrating good leadership and supervisory behaviors, and correct them whenever you see shortcomings.
4) Empower People
- Delegate. As any of your people develop a comfort level with their responsibilities, let them begin handling their role with less input, oversight and second-guessing from you.
- Explain. Take the time up front to explain and discuss the “what” is expected and “why”, and be sure they’re comfortable with the “how”. Make sure they understand you’re giving them the authority, and the accountability, to get the results. Wherever possible, let them determine the means and the details.
5) Get Together
- Meetings. Have regular meetings: short, stand-up, face-to-face discussions of priorities, issues, solutions and status. Daily with your key people, perhaps weekly or bi-weekly with the whole team. These should be punchy, positive, direct, and not more than fifteen minutes long.
- Discussions. Encourage give-and-take. Good meetings are conversations that don’t degenerate into involved arguments, heated attacks, pointless tangents, or endless details. Good meetings are managed by the leader, not controlled.
6) Make Things Special
- Be spontaneous. Find ways to break the “ordinariness of work”. Order lunch in, have impromptu ceremonies, buy sodas or sports drinks for the crew from time to time, and barbecue for the store and customers occasionally. Anything that makes work special will pay big dividends.
- Be special. Celebrate special events: babies, anniversaries, graduations, etc. Don’t let special occasions pass in silence or ignorance.
- Be unique. Find out (or invent) something noteworthy about your town, your team, or your people, and play up that image in a big way. Use it to define your team, build a bond around it, and make it one of the cornerstones of who you are as a unit.
7) Solve Problems
- Be supportive. Show your people that you’re in their corner. If they have issues with the home office, help them to solve it or get a quick answer. In particular, don’t allow things to fester. Follow up aggressively and make sure answers are received when promised, or know why not.
- Be flexible. If your people are having personal issues, see if you can’t take some of the work burden off their backs. Give them space to breathe.
- Two-way street. Remember that you’ll get a lot more out of your people if they feel like they get a lot out of you. If you make sure they have what it takes to do the job, they’ll make sure the job gets done.
Is there any doubt that you’ll be a much more effective leader, and a more productive manager, than ever before if you followed these guidelines?
Think back to when you were starting out: wouldn’t you have loved working in this kind of environment?
There’s no magic here, but there is a lot of common sense, respect for others, and a healthy dose of perspective that you – as the leader – are there to serve your people and make sure you remove obstacles to their getting the job done.
Engagement is all the rage this year, right?
If – as I believe – engagement is a direct referendum on leadership, wouldn’t your team be much more engaged in this environment?
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Image Sources: positivityblog.com
- Before the Meeting Adjourns, Tell Me What You’ll Do Next (nytimes.com)
- The Art Of Leadership: Become A More Effective Leader In 3 Steps (forbes.com)
- What Leaders Do When They’re At Their Best (fastcompany.com)