There’s no one right way to manage a team or function as a successful leader. The “right” management style is always the one that 1) aligns with your personality, 2) aligns with the needs and personalities of your team members, and 3) gets the job done, ideally without compromising enthusiasm, commitment, engagement, and morale.
But even though an effective management style is situation-specific and highly personal, there are a few traits that, when applied, can elevate any managerial approach to the next level. One of these traits is agility. No matter your approach—hands-on, hands-off, micro, macro, carrot, or stick—embracing agility can help you get where you need to go. Keep these tips in mind.
Maintain short-term goals.
Long-term goals are great. But most industries move quickly, and if your fixed point on the horizon is the only point guiding your day-to-day efforts, it’s time to establish a closer and more immediate destination. Your employees should always be reaching for a milestone or end-point that’s just beyond their grasp, not one that lies five years in the future. Try taking long term goals and breaking them down into smaller and smaller sub goals until the next victory lies within the bounds of a week or even a single day. Short term goals are more manageable, but they’re also more fluid. If they don’t serve their purpose, they can be quickly changed.
Evaluation should be constant and low key.
Don’t wait until the end of each calendar year and an awkward, formal meeting to tell your employees how they’re doing. All year long, maintain a constant stream of low-pressure feedback, and don’t wait until December to express negative feelings about a mistake made in June. Year-end evaluations should be nothing more than a formality in which you tell your employees what they already know.
If you assess a new employee and decide, based on what you see, to adopt a cheerful, laid-back coaching style, that’s fine. But if another style feels more appropriate as you get to know the employee better, change course. If your team usually benefits from strong oversight, that’s fine. But if they outgrow the training wheels eventually, take those wheels off. If a once-successful approach suddenly stops working, don’t cling to that approach. Let it go and try something new.
Hold conversations, not just meetings.
Keep the dialogue open between yourself and your direct reports, and make sure the flow of communication is driven by you; don’t wait to be approached. Circulate each day among your teams, say hello, ask them how their doing, ask them what they need, and by all means, make yourself available when they come to you to ask questions or share ideas.
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