We have all had them...managers that don't have our backs, that lack interest in our success, that are disconnected from reality and that seem to always have a hidden agenda. Their actions don't inspire us and they certainly don't earn our trust.
I read an article in Forbes a few years ago that was titled, "People Leave Managers, Not Companies." The title really hits the nail on the head in terms of why so many companies and organizations have employee engagement and retention challenges. The failure to invest in training managers to be effective in their role results in a major loss in productivity and revenue. Teams that are not effectively managed fall out of alignment with goals, struggle with identifying priorities, and often do not apply their full potential.
Managers that get results aligned with organizational goals and priorities practice three habits that differentiate their leadership from others. As a result, they retain top talent, maximize performance, and often spark innovation that leads to favorable outcomes.
Effective managers provide access for their teams. They not only maintain an open door policy and return calls and emails (seems so basic but so often a void), they also open doors for their team members to access key internal and external stakeholders. Results-driven managers recognize that open lines of communication and a diverse network of colleagues and partners will challenge us to think outside of our own perspectives and make connections inside and outside of both our organizations and fields. They also give their team members access to opportunities, experiences that challenge the status quo by highlighting bold new ideas, align with an individual's passion and professional goals, and nurture a commitment to continual learning.
Goal-oriented managers ensure that their teams are aware of and aligned to a vision that is purposeful and aspirational. This awareness serves as the guiding star for the team, and talented managers coach their team members on how to use the vision along with their goals and priorities to work on what is most important daily. Managers that foster team awareness by providing appropriate context position their teams to anticipate obstacles, maintain a solution orientation, and avoid being sidetracked. Sharing context earns team members' trust. Effective managers also cultivate a sense of curiosity in their team members that triggers them to ask great questions. Great questions that start with "why" lead us to uncover valuable information such as the root cause of an issue, the source of someone's frustration, and insight on what motivates customers or partners.
Managers that deliver results know that greater awareness drives action. The more insight we have into customer or partner goals, the more likely we are to deliver greater value. By inspiring their teams to take action, managers create a culture of engagement where taking risks is valued, failures are processed as growth opportunities, and innovation is the norm. Team members do not waste their time and talent in back to back meetings where talk trumps progress. Results-driven managers get barriers out of their team's way so they can individually and collectively achieve their peak performance.
It may seem like a daunting role to some, but managers that get results know that their biggest priorities include being accessible to their team members, opening doors and removing barriers, ensuring consistent alignment with the vision and goals, and coaching their teams on how to maximize the impact of their actions. The more we invest in advancing effective management, the more we will gain greater efficiencies and achieve results that exceed our current expectations.