To have a successful career in any company you must know how to build relationships.
And the most important relationship is between the manager and their direct reports. The strength of this relationship can have a direct result on the success of a team. Yes the relationship between the manager and their staff must be ‘open and ‘trustworthy, that's a given – but what else should you expect from your staff as their manager?
During my 20 years plus management career, I've observed and experienced that certain behaviors, on the part of both the staff and the manager, are conducive to productive and rewarding relationships.
I share my views below and I hope that I can help other managers, leaders, staff and teams to improve their relationships and as a consequence, their performance.
What I Expect from My Direct Reports
Get involved Successful managers know how to delegate. But even more important, they know when a situation calls for their immediate involvement, whether it's in redirecting resources to a major crisis or visiting their staff at a remote site. If you see a problem rising, there is no excuse for not taking responsibility. I expect my reports to take the blame for things that go wrong and give credit for positive developments to their employees. That is part of being a manager – take the blame but praise the staff/team when things work out well.
It is the manager's judgment call to know when your involvement is necessary and will have the most impact on the business. I have found that effective managers generally get involved when one of these three types of circumstances arise: when somebody is falling behind in their commitments; when important personnel matters arise and in a crisis.
Generate ideas A person who is innovative and creative is rare. I actually encourage individuals to come up with ideas. I listen to what they suggest and say. Together we decide which ideas are taken forward and implemented.
Be willing to collaborate and share The number of people I come across who resist collaboration or sharing credit amazes me. Individuals think by keeping ‘things to themselves’ they will become infallible or irreplaceable. The team, department, company can achieve improved results if individuals share their good ideas, practice, ways of working.
As a manager, you have to take this very seriously and I do. Several years ago, I was hired to improve the turnaround time of customer orders for a large blue-chip company. Two of my direct reports just did not get on; they didn't talk to each other; they didn’t turn up to each other's meetings; they argued in front of customers. All this meant they didn't and couldn't work together and because they didn't work together well, neither did their teams. As a result, service was not improving. The three of us met and I told them that it didn’t matter whether they liked each other or not, but the way they worked together had to change. They left the meeting with the agreement they would overcome their differences. I don't know if they ever learned to like each other, but they learned to work well together – and more important, so did their teams. Our overall performance improved considerably.
Be willing to lead initiatives I love change and as a manager, I am always impressed when someone volunteers to lead new initiatives. It shows courage, confidence and flexibility. New initiatives often means new skills, new relationships and new environments, for the individual who volunteers. Most individuals won't put their hand up to volunteer because of the unknown. All I can say, it that those that do, it will be their careers they will accelerate and their profile will increase tremendously.
Develop your staff as you develop You need to manage your own development. However, even more important is the development of your staff. Early in my career, I worked for a great manager. He told me one day, he was going to do everything he could to help me reach my potential. From that moment on, he was more interested in my development than in his own. He went out of his way to criticice or praise me when I needed it. I'll never forget him; he played a very meaningful role in my career.
Drive your own development Keep your own skills up-to-date. Your company may not offer all the development you need. You may have to do your own research. In my career I have read many, many management/leadership/business books (some bad, some good, some excellent). I have also had many mentors.
Ask your boss and peers for feedback. Get yourself a mentor (inside or outside the company). Accept and volunteer for new types of work – learn from the new skills, relationships and environments.
Remember your own development is your responsibility.
A last word…. . 25% of all staff don't know what their boss expects of them. As a manager, make sure 100% of your staff know what you expect of them. It's easy to do – the behaviors I expect are listed above. You may have different ones. It doesn't matter – just make sure your staff know. If they do, you will see an improvement in your team's service.
About the author:
Andrew Rondeau offers Management / Leadership coaching and mentoring services and is also the author of the top selling management e-Books ‘Accelerate Your Management Effectiveness', ‘How To Get A Standing Ovation Every Time You Publicly Present’ and ‘Learn The Secrets Of Time Management’.
Check out his new Management Article Directory website, http://www.greatmanagement.org/ which holds 100's of articles from top authors.
Get yourself a FREE e-Course on ‘How To Give Your Career A Boost’ from the website as well.