Why You’re Not an Ace Manager

BY Kathy Crosett
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If you’ve been put in charge of a group or a department, you must be doing something right. A promotion often means you were really good at your previous position. It doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be a good manager. Robin Camarote, writing for Inc​.com, observes that most managers think they’re doing a great job and give themselves high scores when, in fact, they are ‘winging it.’

Managers who don’t take concrete steps to actively help their employees, or who too often follow their ‘gut’ instincts will eventually see their staff members beating a path to the door. The increased turnover leads to lower engagement and profits. The remaining employees will feel stressed, start arguing, and you’ll soon have a situation where nobody is actively working on developing or selling products.

Camarote points out that some managers fail to try to improve themselves, because they feel they lack innate talent. These folks plan to go through the management motions without challenging themselves to grow. It’s true that some folks make wonderful natural leaders. The rest of us need to take advantage of the leadership programs and content that has been developed to help us learn what we need to know.

The mandatory ingredients for successful management are keen interests in “people and learning.” The best leaders know it’s not ‘all about them.’ Instead, they focus on and champion their team members. If you’re truly interested in your team members and you’re ready to learn, you can take a few simple steps to improve your management abilities.

First, swallow your ego and ask for feedback. Employees aren’t always going to be forthcoming with feedback, because they fear they might get demoted or fired if they’re particularly candid. Your team members might be hesitant to say much if you’re suddenly interacting more than you have in the past. In that case, pay attention to non-​verbal cues. Are people turning away when they see you approach? During discussions with you, do they cross their arms? Glance at the clock? If your team members are signaling discomfort, you need to take your management interaction to the next level.

That next level is silence. The best leaders are known for it. Specifically, they listen more than they talk in their one-​on-​one meetings. Active listening is the skill you need for these meetings. Once you hear what your team members are really saying, you can take steps to help them.

The bottom line is – to achieve ace manager status – you need to invest in your skills. Make the effort. You and your team members will notice the difference.