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  • Writer's pictureBrian Mason

How Managers Can Truly Serve Their People

Updated: May 17, 2021

Many managers feel a drive to improve the workplace experience for their employees and colleagues, only to find they don’t have the time to do what they do best - developing their team members - because of heavy workloads, unclear expectations, and job stress.

You remember how it was….you had just landed your first management role, feeling exhilarated, proud of your hard work, and down-right deserving of this awesome opportunity. Recalling the interview, you really shined as you described your experiences and articulated some impressive ideas for change. Soon, reality set in and it dawns on you that YOU are now responsible for the outcomes of others and you wonder, “How do I even get started?”

While not everyone is naturally cut out to step into the manager role, there is an art and science to effectively managing and leading people. So, why do most managers find themselves, burnt-out, overwhelmed, and questioning their decisions?

1. The Dreaded ‘Catch 22’ – They don’t have the ‘right’ management experience.

Landing that first manager role can be tricky especially if you work for a company that expects someone to have ‘management’ experience. So how do you show you can manage people when you’ve not managed people?

First, it’s important to assess why you want to be a manager and how you will demonstrate you’re ready for the role. The time you spend evaluating your readiness will make it far easier to prepare for interviews and identify any skill gaps you will need to focus on.

Awhile back, I worked with an aspiring manager who was struggling with pivoting into a management role. Focusing on three really important questions, she was able to identify the experiences she wanted to create as a manager, where she would need to grow to be a great manager, and finally, how she wanted to show up and contribute to her employees and organization. With those few things in hand, she successfully nailed her interview and got off to an impressive start in her new career. I couldn’t have been prouder!

2. Unclear expectations, heavy workloads, and competing priorities

It’s not unusual for managers to feel overwhelmed by unclear expectations, heavy workloads, and competing business and people priorities. These are the enemies of solid decision-making. One of my recent clients came to me expressing frustration with how their career had stalled. He shared how he felt like he was going through the motions. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get his team to come together and deliver on their projects. Within a few hours of investigating his workload and responsibilities and his ability, or inability, to delegate, we were able to create a system that reduced his workload and elevated his team members with high-profile assignments where they could succeed and shine. When you can pause just long enough to see the bigger picture, you can make the changes needed so you feel a sense of satisfaction and do what great managers do best, make decisions, solve problems, and clear the way for good employees to do bring their best.

3. Their relationship building skills are horrible

Most business schools today teach a lot about theory and invoke ‘real-world’ business process simulations. What they don’t do is teach how to navigate the art and science of managing people. Human capital management (HCM) is critical to tomorrow’s successes. HCM is a people-focused, set of practices guiding three primary categories: workforce acquisition, workforce management, and workforce optimization. A key to HCM is understanding the people that represent your workforce.

I worked with an organization where the key leader saw people as ‘chess pieces’ to be moved and placed where the business needed. This created a very toxic culture of disrespect, anger, high turnover, and unneeded expense. Turning the business around meant going deep into this leader’s beliefs and behaviors and developing a culture where people were seen as valuable contributors to the overall well-being of the business. After several months and some difficult conversations, together we saw morale improve, employee engagement scores increase nearly 30%, and costs from turnover decrease nearly 60%. People are the key to a good business, and creating an inclusive workplace drives profits – bottom line.

You Deserve To Be A Great Manager!

With time and attention, you can develop the skills to be one of the best managers your employees have ever had. You know, the one that they recall fondly as a mentor… not the one they gripe about at cocktail parties. As a business & management consultant, I can help. The people I work with not only see their management role as a way to accelerate their careers, they also have hopes of making a difference in the lives of those around them.

Leave me a comment below telling me how you’re going to accelerate your career. How might you prepare yourself for the experiences you want as a manager? How will you develop an inclusive workplace for you and your team?

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