“What is your dream job?”
It was my first day in a new role and this was the question my manager, Joanne, asked me during our introductory meeting. I was hesitant to reply because, in this case, my dream job would have meant leaving my employer. I decided to muster up the courage anyway and bravely answered her question honestly. To my surprise, her face lit up and she bounced off her chair, cheering, “I can totally see you doing that! Let’s make it happen.” She was the last manager I ever had.
For the last 10 years, I’ve been working for myself – in my dream job that Joanne helped me find. My time on her team proved to be one of the most productive and highest performing periods in my career. I was driven to be at my best because I was working towards my dream, and yet I remained fiercely loyal to my team and our leader. I didn’t want to disappoint a manager that showed me how much she believed in me.
This is just one example of why Joanne remains one of the most effective leaders I’ve ever worked with. She demonstrated key principles that showed her team that she believed in them; principles that I’ve learned can inspire a team to achieve world-class results. Now that’s a great manager.
Great managers are always talking about team goals and linking these goals back to the team’s purpose.
So where can we start if we would like to be a great manager? One way is to remember why we care about the work that we do – and the people we are doing it with. Great managers are driven by their own purpose and mission to lead. It is a decision they make every day by remembering what is important. To do this, here are some questions leaders can reflect on each day to ensure we are doing our best:
Do I have the right balance between the amount of energy I put into tasks versus people?
As a manager you are likely busy juggling multiple responsibilities at any given time. It is important to always consider whether you feel you have the right balance between your daily projects (your tasks) and what your team needs from you (your people). We have our own work to do, but we also need to remember that a key component involves leading people; great managers find that balance.
Do I check-in and show my team that I care?
An effective way to find that balance between tasks and people is through face time. We want our teams to know that we are interested in what they are working on – not in a helicopter micromanager sort of way, but with an empowering approach. Walking around and genuinely showing interest can go a long way, but when working remotely, great managers can easily achieve the same results by checking-in on your preferred virtual platform.
Do I set specific expectations for employees while also asking for their expectations of me as a leader?
Research tells us that one of the main reasons an employee doesn’t complete an assigned task is because they didn’t understand exactly what they were asked to do. It’s not because they don’t want to do it or don’t know how; they just need their leader to specifically communicate expectations. Great managers are always talking about team goals and linking these goals back to the team’s purpose. They are not afraid to solicit feedback from their team in order to learn what teammates expect from them.
Do I encourage employee growth and development?
Joanne showed me the power behind encouraging our teams to learn, grow, and expand their development. Effective employee development plans can often be designed as short-term (current role) and long-term (preferred next role) goals. Great managers are invested in their team being at their best.
More than ever before, our workforce is searching for fulfillment and happiness in their work, and by focusing on these questions, you will be reminding your employees of their value. Reflecting on these points may indicate our level of dedication to leading a team filled with passion and purpose. It can help us stay grounded on our mission to improve team relationships, raise productivity, increase performance, and generate loyalty. This is how we can show our teams that we believe in them, just as Joanne did with me. And maybe it can all start by asking your team a simple question: What is your dream job?
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