Great managers inspire their team with praise, create safe spaces for their people to share their opinions and help them exceed their goals. They also know how to promote the great work their people are doing so leaders and decision makers invest in the team.
If this doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. We’ve got your back.
Below are 5 important things you should do (and not do) to make you the kind of manager your team never forgets:
DO give praise in front of “the powers that be”
Why you should do this:
Public praise in front of decision makers helps you get your team promotions, raises and new opportunities to do exciting work. You also make it easier to get more budget, people, and support. Build the case for these things all year long, and people are far more likely to say yes when you make your ask.
How you can do this:
Make time with your boss
- Make time in meetings with your boss to bring up the great things your team- and the people on it- are doing. If you manage a team that works in shifts, include those stories in your shift notes.
Pass along feedback
Don’t be shy about passing along any great feedback you hear about someone on your team to your boss and other important people. You're not doing your team any favors by holding it back!
Nominate your team
- Always take time out to nominate people on your team for any and all internal awards or recognitions. And make sure your team knows you’re doing it.
- Always include a “Big Wins” section in your monthly team recap posts. Don't be afraid to shower people with praise!
- When someone passes along great feedback about your team, make sure you share that with your boss immediately via chat.
DON'T discourage disagreement
Why you should avoid this
Your team is far more likely to take your feedback seriously as you mentor them if they feel like you take what they have to say seriously in return. It sounds simple, but it's very easy to unintentionally send the wrong message without realizing it.
How to avoid the problem
Be a learn-it-all (Not a know-it-all)
- Get in the habit of responding to other people’s ideas with a neutral question instead of your opinion. Let them finish without interruption, ask a question or two that invites them to go in more depth and give yourself some time to really think it over before you weigh in.
Hold opinions lightly
If you express an opinion too strongly, your team will be far less likely to express their own. Save your strong opinions for the things that really matter, and spend the rest of the time listening rather than talking.
Share your opinons last
- It’s never easy for your team to disagree with you (especially in public). Don’t offer your own opinion in conversations until everyone else has offered theirs. Once you give an opinion, people with differing views tend to think the conversation is over.
- Ask for opinions on big topics in your team group with a post a day before discussing it in a meeting. You’ll get more thoughtful (and honest) responses.
- Post your thoughts on important team issues and ask your team to poke holes in them. It makes disagreeing with you feel safe, and you’ll get some great ideas.
- Alternately, create a poll post for your team to give their ideas on how to tackle an issue, add yours at the end and ask the team to vote on their favorites. Be sure to discuss them in your next team meetings.
DO find growth opportunities for your team
Why you should do this
Taking the time to match your team up with projects that help their careers or give them new skills is how you keep your team motivated and make them stick around. It’s also a sure fire way to turn middling performers into top performers. You’ll be the manager they never forget.
How you can do this
Find out what they love to do
- Work with your team to come up with an individual list of the things they love to do and things they wish they could do more of. Review the list regularly.
Talk to other managers
Keep in touch with other managers and your boss to identify potential projects members of your team can work on. Focus on things that give them experience they need to move up in their careers.
Create opportunities for them
- If you can’t find anything, design a project with them or give them a task that lets them do some things they’ve always wanted to work on.
Have regular career conversatons
- Meet with the people on your team at least once every 3-4 months to talk about their career goals. Don't wait until their annual review for those conversations to happen.
- Join groups that help you see what’s going on in other parts of the organization and at higher levels.
- Spend 15 minutes every day reading through update posts and project posts to look for opportunities for your team.
- Workplace lets you chat with any other person in the organization. Don’t be shy about making connections and introducing people to your team.
- You can also pin the lists to your 1:1 groups so it's always top of mind, and easy to find.
DO be a great coach
Why you should do this
Being a great coach to your team is one of the most important parts of your job: it’s how you can help them learn and grow in their careers. Showing them you’re invested in their careers and growth is also how you keep your best people around.
How you can do this
Lead by obvious example
- Look for learning moments for the team. If you manage a tough customer conversation, explain why you handled it the way you did. If you make a mistake, talk to them about what you should have done instead.
Remember that they need your constructive feedback
If you want to get better at sharing constructive feedback, just follow this formula: it should always mention a specific situation, point out a particular behavior, explain how it impacted you or someone else and suggest concrete things they can do differently next time.
Remember that they need your positive feedback too
It’s easy to fall into the habit of only giving feedback when something went wrong. Make it a point to share positive feedback regularly to keep your team motivated but don’t deliver it as a way to soften constructive feedback.
DON'T gloss over your experiences and past mistakes
Why you should avoid this
This is a great way to show empathy for your team when they need it most, and it sends the message that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from them. It can also make your feedback a lot more effective.
When to mention your past experiences
When someone is feeling bad about their own mistake
- One way to make them feel better is to share a similar, maybe even more serious, mistake you’ve made in the past. It makes them feel less alone and helps you focus the conversation on the lesson to learn.
When you want someone to take your advice seriously
Advice tends to be more well received when it’s framed as “a thing that has worked well for me in the past” as opposed to “the thing I am commanding you to do”.
To help your team avoid future mistakes
- If you want someone to change a behavior, talk about the problems that behavior has caused for you in the past. That’s a lot more convincing than talking about a hypothetical future problem that, in their mind, may or may not happen.
- When posting about your work, always talk about the things that didn’t go well or the goals you didn’t meet and what you learned from it all. It’s more useful for your team and makes it easier for them to be open about their own learnings.
- Share a “Past Failure Friday” post.Your team will really benefit from hearing about lessons you’ve learned the hard way, and you can focus on things that you really want your team to be doing differently.