The Real Way to Delegate Decisions and Empower Your Team
There’s an old saying that goes, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” But there’s another, more accurate old saying that goes, “If you want to become an effective leader and truly help your team succeed, delegate.” As often as possible, include teams in decision making, execution, and the completion of meaningful work. If you have knowledge, share it. If you have a plan, bring others on board. Instead of powering through on your own, turn your growth and success into a true team effort. Here’s how.
Harness the power of consulting.
Encourage your teams to bring you questions, not problems. Don’t let them simply dump problems in your lap and leave them for you to solve. Allow the problem—whatever it may be—to stay in the employee’s purview, but make yourself available when the employee needs information and guidance. Take responsibility for the suggestions and insights you provide, and if they don’t pan out, share in both the cleanup and the learning process. But when they do pan out, make sure the employee played a fundamental role in the victory.
Provide the tools.
If the employee needs information that can be drawn directly from the company’s institutional knowledge, records, or resources, provide these tools and point the way. If your employee needs insights that are rooted in your own personal experience or training, share what you have. Just try to stop short of providing ready-made answers and clear-cut step-by-step instructions. The less hand-holding you do now, the less you’ll do in the future as your employee gains knowledge and independence.
Set a goal.
When a newer or younger employee comes to you with an issue, you’ll start small. Over time, you’ll provide fewer supports as he or she begins to rely on her own experience and the lessons of her own mistakes. As your delegation skills improve and strengthen, your employee’s skills will improve and strengthen as well. So how will you know when you’ve reached a goal or truly helped an employee grow? Keep an eye out for the day in which your employee knows what you’ll say before you have a chance to say it. When your employee can predict your answers, then place them into a context of personal knowledge and experience, you’ll know that you’ve done your job. You’ll also know that you can trust your teams to handle the crises and issues that arise when you aren’t there.
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Five Ways to Become the Great Boss Everyone Wants
You’ve seen great bosses in action. You’ve known a few of them personally. You may have even had a few, or at least one, who stands out in your mind as a competent leader and motivational coach. So what can you do to find a place on someone else’s list of all-time great bosses? How can you make a name for yourself as a great boss everyone wishes they worked for? The long answer is far from simple and involves patience, experience, and trial and error. But over the short term, here are a few moves that can help you take steps toward your goal.
Look for any reason to celebrate. Great leaders share our joy and encourage us to savor positive moments and achievements. When we look back through the mists of time to the best bosses we’ve ever had, we often remember them smiling, giving out high fives, and making the most of large and small victories. Get excited about both performance (great employees doing great things) and growth (mediocre employees getting stronger). Get excited about team victories and individual victories. Get excited about permanent wins and temporary wins. In fact, get excited about everything. Love your work and let it show.
You justify your position as “boss” by claiming knowledge or influence others don’t have. This means you can be expected to withstand punches others can’t, and your responsibility and influence extend further than those of your employees. So when something goes wrong, step up and take the hit. If you truly have authority, the mistakes of your team ARE technically your fault. In the meantime, those who are weaker than you should be protected from fallout and backlash.
Do the right thing, always, even when nobody is watching and there’s no chance you could be caught. Make an unrelenting habit of always doing the right thing, and when you’re standing at a fork in the road, choose the ethical and responsible path…always. If you do this as a general matter, of course you’ll be trusted to do it in the future. Reputation and character are built on a foundation of small decisions that accumulate over the course of months and years.
Make Decisions but Get Input
Don’t make decisions on your own. Gather data from multiple sources and all available factors and evidence. And after you’ve reviewed the data and considered the evidence, pause before moving forward. You’re not trying to win the award for “correct decision maker;” you want the award for “great boss” and “person who interacts successfully with others.” Being a good boss is a social state, not a solitary one. In order to win trust, praise, support, and respect, you need to work well with others. And that means soliciting input before making high stakes decisions that affect other people.
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Are You Embracing an Agile Management Style?
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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If you are looking to add the top talent to your team, contact the professional recruiters at ACCENT Hiring Group where we can help find the right people for your organization!
Become a Better Manager Part 4: Find a Balance in Your Whole Life
You’re a manager now, and you’re either an effective manager, a struggling manager, or a new manager with no track record behind you. As a leader, your chosen moves are either working or they aren’t. But how are you succeeding as a person? Are you getting the things you need to make you whole? Do you feel in control of your actions and decisions? Do you feel fulfilled by your work? At any given moment, do you feel healthy, well-rested, and fully present, or do you feel like you’re barely holding on? Here are a few ways to improve your success as a leader by planting your feet on stable ground and taking care of yourself first.
What do you need?
If you’re having trouble understanding what your employees need or why they’re upset, stop and ask yourself a few questions before you proceed: Are YOU upset? Are you distracted by something? Have you eaten recently? Are you bringing issues into the conversation that should be part of another conversation altogether? Get whatever you need before you move forward—anything from missing information to a reduction of the noise in the room.
Separate life from work.
At the end of the day, your job is just a job. When you leave the office and return to the things that really matter, try to put the day behind you. Try not to contact your employees after hours, and don’t allow them to reach out to you unless they’re facing a real emergency. Respect the separation between your work and home life, and give your employees the same consideration.
Keep the bar high.
If you expect your employees to come in on time, make sure you come in early. If you expect them to work a full day, stay late. If you expect a certain level of diligence and commitment from them, set the bar a notch higher for yourself. Make sure they see you working just a bit harder than they do, and strive to set an example.
Seek to understand first.
You may become frustrated if your employees don’t understand you or don’t behave according to your expectations. But before you push them, turn the focus on yourself. Seek to listen and understand before you insist on being understood. Protect your employees from upper management, from difficult clients, and most important of all, from your own imperfect assumptions and intentions. Earn their trust before you expect them to hand it over.
Become a Better Manager Part 3: Provide Clear Direction
As a manager, it’s your job to make sure your teams are moving forward at the right speed and in the right direction. If they’re wandering, confused, or headed over a cliff, it’s not because they misunderstood your instructions; it’s because you didn’t communicate those instructions clearly. Once you’re established in a leadership role, all communication mistakes from that point forward are yours alone; if you mess up, it’s your fault. If your teams mess up, it’s your fault. So what steps can you take to make sure this doesn’t happen?
First, set an example.
Before you try to shape your teams and bring them in line, police your own behavior, performance, and listening skills. Are you in control of your priorities? Are you in control of your emotions? Do you maintain balance between your work and personal life? Can you switch gears and bounce back from setbacks quickly? In other words, at any given moment during the day, do you know exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it? If you don’t, they probably don’t either.
When you ask for something, think first.
Instead of impulsively ordering your teams around or sending them on a mission after your latest whim or fleeting need, pause. Recognize that when you tell someone what to do in a professional setting, you’re exercising a sacred trust. Can your teams trust you to deploy them only in ways that serve the best interest of the company and its stakeholders? Before you send someone out for coffee or place someone as the head of a newly created department, make sure your reasoning is sound and your long-term goals make sense.
Don’t push and pull at the same time.
Never encourage your teams to take a risk and then punish them when the risk doesn’t pan out. Never ask them to do something and then yell at them for doing it. Walk the walk, talk the talk, and don’t forget exactly what you requested and how, when, and under what circumstances you delivered the request.
If you don’t explain how or why, expect them to fill in the gaps.
If you ask for something to be done, but don’t explain how to do it, you can expect your employee to adopt whatever methods she sees fit. If you don’t like her chosen methods, blame yourself. The same applies to larger goals. If you give an order but don’t explain why your employee may build a road to a different town than the one you had in mind. The more information you share, the more likely you are to get what you want.
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If you are looking for the best employees for your team, contact the best management recruiters in Scottsdale and work with the ACCENT Hiring Group today.
Become a Better Manager Part 2: Overcoming Fear of Failure
We’ve all heard plenty of buzz about the unexpected upside to “failing.” Failure and setbacks can teach us valuable lessons and help us better understand the systems we occupy. When we mess up or make a wrong move, the results can shine a light into some of the dark corners around us, telling us more about how our industries work, about the people around us, and about ourselves and our own abilities and limitations. “Failing” can show us that we’re better prepared for challenges then we thought. It can also teach us that our preparation is a long way from adequate; the first time you head out on a snowy hike without gloves will probably be the last. Failing illuminates the weak points in our plans and the holes in our parachutes, and once we see them, we can fix them and move on with strength and confidence.
But there’s a gap between knowing this fact and incorporating it into our everyday lives as managers. New managers may be especially likely to struggle with this concept; as an inexperienced first-time leader, you may understand the virtues of failure, in theory. But when the path forks in front of you and you can choose to take a risk or play it safe, most new managers would rather play it safe. If you fall into this category, here are a few reasons to step back and let your teams charge over a cliff now and then.
You can’t hover forever.
If you feel the urge to micromanage and hover over your teams, preventing any form of failure or embarrassment, step back. You’re neglecting your own tasks when you do this, which means you aren’t allowing yourself to expand your own strength and growth. As long as you’re doing their work for them, your teams aren’t learning and neither are you.
This isn’t the ER.
If actual lives are at stake, that’s one thing. But most of us don’t work in the emergency room, and if our teams take a tumble, the consequences may educate more than they harm. Embrace the education; the minor resulting harm can be considered the cost of tuition.
Hard lessons last longer.
A minor scolding or correction from you might sting momentarily, but an actual lost client, failed project or damaged relationship will leave a lasting impression that can help guide decisions far in the future.
Fear of failure means fear of risk.
Nobody enjoys failing — especially not while it’s happening. But if we fear failure too much, we start avoiding any risk or action that could potentially steer us toward it. And that’s just not healthy. Risk should be celebrated and faced with courage, even if it leads your teams down a potentially bumpy road.
Become a Better Manager Part 1: Don’t Waste Time on Insignificant Details
You’re a manager now, which means the buck stops with you. More specifically, it means that you’re called upon to take responsibility not just for your own work, but for the contributions and actions of every person who reports to you. You have to handle what’s on your own plate, but you also have to own and sign off on the plates to your left and right. Plates are spinning all around you, and even though you aren’t watching them every minute of the day, they’re still yours.
If you’re not used to this level of responsibility, all these spinning plates can place a huge drain on your attention and energy. And at the end of the day, your divided attention may keep you from paying attention the handful of tasks that really DO require your personal focus, your specific experience, and your unique set of skills. Here are a few moves that can help you prioritize while in motion.
Shorten your speeches and condense your ideas.
When you’re asked for an opinion or a recommendation or feedback, think first, then speak. Don’t talk your way toward an answer. Think about what you’d like to say, then condense your response into the most succinct spoken or written message. The more lengthy and complex your sentences, the more likely you are to be poorly or incompletely understood, which can result in more questions, and more requests for information and feedback, etc. Keep a ten-minute exchange from swallowing up your morning.
New managers have a tendency to over-manage, but the faster you learn to step back, the better. Give your team members the benefit of the doubt, and try not to step in unless or until they ask for help or demonstrate that they need it. This may feel difficult at first, but as long as lives are not at stake, your ability to step back will accelerate the learning and growth taking place around you. The faster your teams learn and grow, the more value they bring to the company…and to you.
Cross things off your list.
Delegate responsibilities whenever you can, but just as important, delegate some of your “responsibilities” to the circular file. Chances are, at least a few action items find their way onto your desk each day that don’t belong there. Or anywhere. Doing nothing is an underutilized strategy, and a wise manager knows how to identify the problems that are likely to solve themselves.
Don’t get dragged in.
Out of boredom, camaraderie, or for any number of reasons, your teams may feel reluctant to wrap things up after a chat or a meeting. They may find themselves creating problems that aren’t problems, identifying issues that suddenly need attention, or seeing fixes where there are no breaks. Stay focused and encourage them to do the same. Set an example.
If you are looking to take the next step in your management career, reach out to the experts at the ACCENT Hiring Group to work with a top management recruiter in Scottsdale!
What Are Best Practices to Implement a New Policy?
The new year has arrived, and as the numbers on the calendar turn over, you’d also like to turn over a few of the standard practices and policies that keep your company in motion. Specifically, you’d like to add a new policy as a result of data analysis you’ve conducted during the last few months. How should you move forward? Here are a few tips that can help you smoothly implement your new policy and have all the gears in place by the arrival of spring.
First, clarify your goals and your language.
Why are you choosing to implement this policy? Will the policy, as it’s currently worded, help you achieve those goals? Make sure your intentions and your new rules are actionable and realistic. If you’ll be asking employees to discontinue a practice they’ve engaged in for a long time, give them an alternative that achieves the same ends. If you’re mandating a new action, make sure your new requirement is possible. Some rules are easier made than followed. Provide a pathway to compliance, or expect your policy to be ignored.
Gain employee input.
You don’t have to let your employees dictate all the terms, but ask them for their input as you shape the language of the policy. Target those who the policy will impact the most. Ask them to participate in meetings or contribute written feedback via email or surveys. Make sure all affected employees are kept in the loop, as far as possible.
Gain buy-in from senior managers and HR teams.
After you’ve ironed out the kinks and made adjustments that reflect the legitimate concerns of employees and those who will be directly affected by the new policy, take the next step. Submit your new policy proposal to the review of senior managers and HR experts who may spot legal problems you haven’t seen until this stage. This process may require a few rounds of editing, since your reviewers may hand the policy back to you with suggested or required revisions.
Announce the new policy at an appropriate time.
Either gather all your employees together to make a formal announcement, or break this population into smaller groups who can meet at roughly the same time period. Make your announcement in a way and in a venue that respects all members of your target audience (don’t leave anyone out). And make sure you allow time for questions or direct questions to a person or resource that can answer them. Follow up your announcement with written messages (via email) and make arrangements to insert a new page or otherwise alter your employee handbook.
5 Leadership Books to Read in 2017
Are you looking for a few ways to boost your productivity and leadership skills? Are you searching for new information, theories, fundamentals, research reviews, or practical skills that can help you bring out the best in those around you — specifically those who work for you? You can read online articles if you choose, and you can always arrange a consultation with a trusted mentor or experienced advisor (start by arranging a meeting with the experts at Accent!) But sometimes nothing helps us gather and process information like a well-researched and informative book (or series of books).
Check out these top-selling management books that appear to be taking the professional world by storm (or at least gaining plenty of positive reviews). Each offers a different perspective and a different set of guidelines that can help you gain control over your time, your teams, your energy, and your potential. All five are available through most booksellers and can be also be downloaded to an e-reader or experienced as an audiobook.
The One Minute Manager, by Kenneth Blanchard.
The One Minute Manager offers general tips and focused advice for management situations of all kinds. The book covers leadership skills that apply to both large and small companies, non-profit leadership, and even the management of children in educational and home settings.
Good to Great, by Jim Collins
In this book, author Jim Collins tracks a large number of companies from an early stage of growth to a later stage, hoping to identify the trends and actions that make average companies great over time. Executives and leaders of all kinds can use this book to boost their performance and raise their grades from a B to an A+.
Crazy Bosses, by Stanley Bing
Author Stanly Bing has built a career by examining the link between leadership, personality, and mental health. Some effective bosses are not necessarily well-balanced people, and some forms of successful leadership come at a great cost to those who lead. If you’ve worked for (or become) a boss who gets things done but isn’t liked, respected, or trusted, this book may provide some valuable insights.
Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results, by Judith E. Glaser
This book explains conversational rituals that help us form partnerships and join forces to achieve mutual success. Different types of conversations can trigger both unconscious and unconscious reactions in our brains, and if we understand these mechanisms, we’re better able to control and direct them.
Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
When you’re trying to achieve specific goals, how you think may be more important than what you think. Learn more about the science of productivity and get the most out of your time and resources. This book makes a great gift for the managers and ambitious employees in your circle.
Are you looking to take the next step in your career this year? Contact the team of management experts at the ACCENT Hiring Group!
Can You Describe Your Management Style?
If you’re applying for a management or leadership position, there’s a strong chance that you’ll be asked some version of this question during your interview:
“How would you describe your management style?”
This may sound like a trick question; after all, there are plenty of different management “styles”, each one equally valid, and you have no way of knowing what your interviewer wants to hear or which style she prefers. As with any other question that addresses your opinions or personal approach to your work, it’s wise to just be honest. Demonstrate self-knowledge and life experience, and the rest will fall into place. If your style doesn’t meet your interviewer’s needs, it’s best for both of you to discover this mismatch sooner rather than later.
That being said, there are a few right and wrong ways to approach this question. Here are some tips that can help you discuss your style with style and flair.
Qualifying and hedging your statements won’t help you come across as all things to all men (or women). You’ll just seem hesitant and uncertain. Avoid feeling your way carefully into your answer with statements like, “Well, you know, everybody manages differently, and I just think that maybe, sometimes, it’s best to read the room before choosing a style, right? I mean, does that sound reasonable to you?” Don’t keep checking in with your interviewer to rate her approval before you express yourself. Instead of using her reactions as a benchmark, rely on your own experience and speak directly and confidently about what you’ve learned from your teams in the past.
Recall your most instructive moments
Before you answer, think back to some of the most shaping moments that made you the manager you are today. Maybe your education moved forward by leaps and bounds the first time you had to fire someone or the first day you had to make a high-risk decision and you chose incorrectly. Maybe you were shaped by the lessons of a wise mentor, or a sink-or-swim moment early in your career. You don’t have to tell the stories that come to mind (though doing this may help). Just think of them, and explain what these moments made of you.
Hands on or hands off?
Some managers like to micromanage and hover. Some like to stand back and let their employees find their own feet. Very likely, you’ve exercised both options at different moments, but what kinds of factors push you in one direction or the other? How do you decide when to get involved or step away?
Coaching and training
A large percentage of any management style will address employee behavior shaping. If you have low performers or disciplinary problems on your team, it’s your job as a manager to steer straying employees back onto the rails. Explain your approach to feedback, training, and course correction.
When you are ready to take the next step in your career, contact the recruiters at the ACCENT Hiring Group.