Being An Effective Manager (Part 2)

DEVELOPING EMPLOYEE CAREER PATH

One of the important things a manager should have as a personality is being approachable. An approachable manager makes employees more comfortable about opening up and once that is achieved, you as a manager will find managing your team or department, a much smoother ride.

USEFUL QUESTIONS

Some questions I like to ask are;

1) On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you in the company?

This question allows you to gauge their level of contentment and sometimes, you might discover things you have overlooked. Make sure that your direct reports never give you a ten because nothing is ever perfect. If they do give you a ten, it can be either because they are afraid of opening up to you, or they are simply trying to please you. Your employees must understand that you are trying to improve things for them and not punish them for being honest.

2) What do you want to spend more time doing?

The answer to this will give you an insight on what your direct reports strengths are. When they say they prefer to be given a bigger responsibility in regard to a certain task, it means they know they are good at it and will be more productive and perhaps even proactive when handling said task.

3) What do you want to spend less time doing?

Similar to the question above, this question reveals your direct reports weaknesses. It is a good manner of judging what tasks might create trouble for them and in turn, you may not get the best result out of their completed work.

4) How do you feel about your long-term career trajectory at the company?

This is where you ask your team what position they have their eyes on. Some may be eyeing a director level role within the next five years, while others may just be comfortable going with the flow. Let them know that what ever their plans are, you are not here to judge. Instead you simply want to be informed of the direction you can help steer them towards, when the time comes. You are after all, their manager and your job is to manage them, their tasks and their expectations.

5) Tell them what they are doing well.

It is crucial that your direct reports know what they excel at, so they are informed that they are on the right track, as opposed to blindly following orders, without any confirmation of whether they are carrying out their duties correctly. It also acts as a guide on how they can improve themselves.

6) What can I do better for you?

Many employees wish that they are able to give constructive criticism to their managers instead of only being on the receiving end. Nobody is perfect and you might be subconsciously doing things that do not sit well with your employees. The only way to find out is to listen to their feedback. Remember that your job is to facilitate them towards success so if there is any room for improvement, you are ready to hear it.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CONDUCT THESE SESSIONS

The frequency of checking up on your team really depends on the size of your team or department. Ideally a weekly half an hour session should suffice. In this case, a general catch-up session will do, instead of asking them all six of the questions above.

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THESE CATCH-UP SESSIONS

Although uncommonly practiced, these catch-up sessions are very effective in making team more proactive and motivated. These methods have been proven to work within my own workplace and I highly recommend it to others.

ENSURING THE HAPPINESS OF YOUR TEAM

There are many things that can be done to raise employee happiness level. Team building activities or courses lifts their spirits while also giving them a break from work. That said, of course these events are no longer possible during this pandemic era, however there are alternatives.

MAKING YOUR TEAM COMFORTABLE OPENING UP

An emotional safety net is essentially something that makes your team comfortable in opening up to you. A manager should be able to provide a secure enough emotional safety net that results in employees willingly wanting to share their professional and personal problems if they feel the need to.

IS BEING TOO SUPPORTIVE A FORM OF SPOILING YOUR TEAM?

The way I see it, you as an employer are investing in the success of your team. You are not only hiring them to get things done but you want it done effectively. Support is a form of easing their journey towards achieving success for the entire organization.

CREATING AN EFFECTIVE PROJECT BASED WIP (WORK IN PROGRESS)

Out of the many techniques of ensuring a smooth running WIP, my personal preference is the GROW model.

G essentially represents goals.

In your weekly WIP meetings, ask your employee or your team “What is the goal(s) of this project and why is it important to you.”

R stands for reality (check).

The plan is to guide your team in prioritizing their tasks towards reaching their goal. If you find that they are disorganized, you can ask them what they are willing to change. If it is additional resources that they need, that is where you come in with assistance. Working overtime should never be an option.

O is for options.

Find out what their plan is. Asking your team about their options helps them think critically as opposed to being spoon-fed. Employees who are allowed to be in control of the plan will feel empowered. Even if the task is set by you, the journey towards the end game should be engineered by your employee or team. If hiring a freelancer is mentioned by your employee then it is your role to find out if the budget permits the extra hire. You are there to provide them with additional resources, if possible.

W represents will.

Allow your direct reports to tell you what milestones they plan to hit along the way of reaching their goal. If it is not what you expect, discuss it with them. That said, give assurance that you trust them to handle this and you are ready to assist in any way possible.

THE PRACTICALITY OF THE GROW MODEL

The GROW Model implements structure in the handling of projects. It puts into perspective of where everyone is, prioritize tasks and identifies resources needed to move ahead. At the end of the day, problems are identified and recorded weekly and it can be used to improve the process in future projects.

Freelance Technical SEO Consultant. Previously @Zapier @Monster. Internet ninja. Food lover. Certified introvert. Music advocate. World Traveler.

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Asad Zulfahri

Asad Zulfahri

Freelance Technical SEO Consultant. Previously @Zapier @Monster. Internet ninja. Food lover. Certified introvert. Music advocate. World Traveler.

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