It is increasingly being recognized that the key to talent management, innovation and business performance is a strong manager cadre http://www.forbes.com/sites/sebastianbailey/2013/08/15/look-after-the-suits-they-drive-competitive-advantage-more-than-strategy-or-innovators/. Here’s my list of the things managers need to do well to effectively engage employees and drive stronger business results:
Be Accessible — Employees have no time for a manger who has no time for them. I made this point clearly in a recent blog post Please the Right People All of the Time. Inaccessible managers frustrate all employees. No weakness is more likely to cause Millennials to walk out the door.
Prioritize Work — Decide what needs to get done and what can wait. Be able to turn off old work when new work is started http://stangercarlson.com/2013/08/09/dont-play-it-again-sam. Stop burning out your people because you can’t make choices!
Coach and Mentor — Managers need basic coaching and mentoring skills. These are different types of skills. A mentor counsels and advises while a coach asks powerful questions and facilitates a process by which the employee surfaces new insights. A strong manager better do both well and know when each is appropriate.
Share Talent — Strong managers don’t horde their best people. They encourage moving people for further development and higher priority work. You do this well, or you fail at teamwork, and your people know it — no matter what story you try to tell.
Empower People — Employees need to feel safe making decisions, taking risks and learning from experience. The manager needs to have their back. This means that, when things go wrong, it’s a learning experience rather than an opportunity to assign blame. Your people are their to contribute and develop, not to be your scapegoats.
Display Emotional Intelligence — Managers need to be in tune with their own emotions and those of others. This allows managers to act with proper awareness and sensitivity. Stop wishing your people had different emotional makeups and celebrate their strengths!
Communicate — This is most fundamental, yet most managers do not do it well or even acceptably. This is especially true of listening, perhaps the ultimate key to good communication. So shut up and start listening and your people will tell you what you need to hear!
Show Empathy — Managers need to do this to connect with their people and build trust. It is one of the most fundamental elements of engagement. Constantly ask yourself: what’s in it for him or her? Then show that you can care about the answer, say so and back it up with the right actions.
Evaluate Fairly — This is about as basic as it gets, but it is actually very hard to do. It’s not about how well they suck up, suit up or talk your talk. See what they do and try to do — including taking risks and learning from mistakes.
Balance Demands — This represents the ultimate challenge. Once a manger has mastered the other things on this list well, strong judgement will be required as to which skills to use in different circumstances. Conflicts can often exist such as between prioritizing work and being accessible. Balance only comes with experience, desire and deep self-awareness.
Almost daily, we are told about how to engage people http://www.forbes.com/sites/sylviavorhausersmith/2013/08/14/how-the-best-places-to-work-are-nailing-employee-engagement/. It’s about the manager, stupid! So, start by getting leadership’s commitment to developing really great managers — real commitment, not the usual lip service. Then, take action. It will be well worth it.