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Six Ways to Be a Better Manager
It’s Time to Assess Your Own Performance

October 2016
Chris McDonell, President of McDonell Consulting & Development, Inc. a licensed Sandler Training center based in Baltimore, has over 25 years of experience in sales and executive leadership. He has lived and worked around the U.S. for some of the world’s leading financial corporations, such as Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and The Associates. Chris has been with Sandler Training since 2008 and has formed successful partnerships with both small and large companies in a wide variety of industries. www.mcdonell.sandler.com

Chris McDonell, President of McDonell Consulting & Development, Inc. a licensed Sandler Training center based in Baltimore, has over 25 years of experience in sales and executive leadership. He has lived and worked around the U.S. for some of the world’s leading financial corporations, such as Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and The Associates. Chris has been with Sandler Training since 2008 and has formed successful partnerships with both small and large companies in a wide variety of industries. www.mcdonell.sandler.com

Part of your responsibility as a manager is to help your team increase its capacity to perform and improve the outcomes of its performance. In other words, help them become better at what they do. To that end, you probably conduct regular meetings to hold them accountable, you supervise to keep them on track and you provide training when needed. Smart managers even go above and beyond to coach and mentor their team to higher levels of performance.

But what are you doing to help yourself become a better manager? What do you do to improve the outcomes of your personal performance when you’re conducting those sales meetings, providing the coaching and delivering the training? Most leaders would answer, “Not much.” So, what can you do to improve your performance and be a better manager, mentor and motivator? Here are six suggestions.

1. Analyze Your Attitude
How you approach your work not only reveals how you feel about your job, but it also establishes a baseline outlook from which your people develop their attitudes about work and, ultimately, their work ethic. Are you enthusiastic, or do you view your job and dealing with employees as an imposition? When facing challenges, do you look for and find possibilities, or do you only point out limitations to overcome? Do you find it easy to give your team compliments, or do you focus more on reprimands? It’s difficult for your people to perform at their best and go the extra distance when they perceive that your primary goal is to just get through another day.

Analyze your attitude by keeping track of it in a journal. Give yourself a 1-10 attitude rating at the start and end of each day. Then, see if you can diagnose why you are gaining or losing ground and make an action plan to turn things around.

2. Adapt Your Behavior
You and each of your team members have a unique personality – a distinct preference for interacting with others, looking at things, analyzing data and making decisions. Each team member has different strengths he or she brings to the job. You need to recognize – and appreciate – those differences, and adjust your patterns of interaction so those differences become building blocks to communication, cooperation and productivity, rather than roadblocks. Team personality conflicts halt productivity, but working together can create a synergistic effect.

Realize that each team member has different needs, motivations and methods to achieve their best results, and then adapt your behavior accordingly. Keep a file on each employee’s strengths and play to them.

3. Acknowledge Your Limitations
Your primary function as a manager is to guide your people to perform at their best, not to be a “know-it-all” who tells them what to do, and when and how to do it. Let your people know that you don’t have all the answers (even if you think you do). Include your team in the process when you’re setting goals, developing strategies and addressing challenges. Encourage them to offer ideas and input. Their participation gives them greater ownership in the processes and eventual outcomes, providing additional motivation to perform.

Try this: In your next team meeting, bring up a problem or challenge and solicit input from your team, rather than dictating the conversation and the answer. See if you can guide them to discover your solution on their own.

4. Delegate Responsibilities
Most likely, there are some routine activities you regularly perform that can be assigned to your team members. Delegating responsibilities not only frees up your time to focus on more pressing activities, but it also gives your team greater ownership in the efficient functioning of the department, which encourages them to perform at their best. Delegating responsibilities facilitates your team members’ personal and professional growth.

Find three things that you should delegate and one important thing you should immediately start doing instead.

5. Be a Resource
When you delegate responsibilities and encourage your people to provide input about goals and projects, you must then be available to listen to them, answer their questions, and provide guidance when needed. Let your team know that they can come to you whenever necessary to discuss relevant issues. And when they do, pay attention. Really listen. Encouraging interaction but not paying attention is worse than not encouraging the interaction in the first place. Keep in mind, though, that it is just as important to avoid becoming the Fire Chief.

Encourage your team to find solutions on their own, but make sure you provide them with the authority and support to execute those solutions.

6. Follow Up
When you enable your team to engage more fully in department operations, it is imperative that you follow up. Let them know how they’re doing and give them timely feedback. Doing so enables you to manage their activities in “real time,” keep them on track and correct mistakes as they occur.

Establish a routine schedule to follow up. For each project or meeting, schedule a second meeting to follow up on those action items, before they are due. You will find your team hitting more goals and making fewer mistakes.

The bottom line is that if you want a better team, you first need to become a better manager. Use these six suggestions to examine your attitudes and actions as a leader. Find new ways to interact with your team – ways that will help them improve their performance.

And ask yourself, what other steps can you take to become a better manager? I95

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