You got promoted. Congrats!
This is great, right? Right. But, with change comes a shift in balance.
Katie C. of Brooklyn, NY asked me: “How do I balance setting my own priorities while also having to manage others?”
Management is a big responsibility. We have a direct influence on our team’s professional growth, their perception of the company, and their level of engagement. It’s a big deal!
Below are four ways to be a great manager while keeping yourself intact.
Before You Manage Others, Manage Yourself
“Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
Before you can be an effective manager, you need to have a clear head, and you need to feel in control. Organization and productivity will help you get there.
Set boundaries around your work. What are the biggest priorities for the next two to three months? Once you have this outlined, focus your daily activities on making progress each day.
There are four productivity hacks I can’t live without.
Create an A list and B List everyday. What projects are most important to you? Don’t even look at the B list until you’re done with the A list.
Plan the next day’s work the night before. This will save you at least 15 to 30 minutes in the morning.
Estimate how long each project will take you, then set a timer for each activity. The timer is key because it keeps you accountable to completing that task.
Allot a certain time of the day for meetings (e.g. from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.) rather than scheduling meetings throughout the day. This leads to less interruptions and more time for focused work.
The overall goal is to make progress on your biggest projects by putting a system in place. It’s so easy to get distracted so take control of your day.
Now, to managing others.
There’s Always a Need. Let This Guide You
Everyone has a need. What’s your biggest pain point? Be clear on the areas in which you need the most help.
Now think about your employees. Are they looking to improve their communication skills? Are they trying to improve their knowledge in the industry?
If they’re unclear on their needs, help them establish goals by asking “Where would you like to be in three months?”
We always talk about short-term and long-term goals at the job interview but fail to keep the conversation going after the hire is made.
Discussing longer-term goals and needs keeps employees engaged from the get-go. They know they’ll be growing in the process, and they’ll feel their manager is invested in their growth.
Once you’re clear on your biggest pain point and those of your employees, kill two birds with one stone: develop a project that meets your needs and also allows your employees to grow.
Learn to Coach. It’s a Game Changer
Coaching is a skill that you can apply to so many areas of your life. Coaching is asking questions and leading the other person to an answer.
The result? The other person, your employee, becomes self-reliant, which saves you a ton of time. Your employee also becomes more confident in his job abilities, so as a result they take on more challenging work, and yes, add more value to you and the company.
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier highlights seven questions you can ask your employee to be a more effective leader.
What’s on your mind? This will lead to a focused conversation. Your employee can take the lead and start discussing their issues. You can then assess what the issue is. Is it people-related, project-focused, or is the employee exhibiting a habit or pattern that’s getting in her way?
And what else? The employee can now share more, and you can continue listening.
What’s the real challenge here for you? Get deeper with the issues and let your employee make the discovery on her own.
What do you want? Dig even deeper with the need, and start working toward a solution.
How can I help? Your employee now has to make a request. No beating around the bush! This will save you a lot of time, and you’ll be clear on your next steps.
If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to? I love this question. It encourages your employee to really think about the implications of her choice, and look at the situation from different angles.
What was most useful for you? This gives a sense of closure. From your conversation, the employee has to reflect and think about what she learned.
In addition to leading with questions, share the bigger picture with your team by explaining the purpose behind a task or a project.
For example, asking junior members in your team to put together a spreadsheet with numbers may seem like an isolated task to them. But, letting them know that these are analytics that will contribute to the marketing strategy will make the employee more invested. Furthermore, they’ll likely be empowered as their work contributes to something bigger.
When someone is clear on the purpose of a project, it’s a lot easier to navigate a task. Always explain why she’s asked to do what you’ve asked her to do.
The Tactical Stuff
Just like you’ve put together a system to manage yourself, you can create a system to manage your team.
This can include weekly meetings so you can touch base on projects and challenges.
It’s especially important to track longer-term goals.
For example, if you’re managing a number of interns and you’ve outlined their needs and goals for the summer, schedule a mid-summer review to see how their work is progressing. It will give you and them enough time to make a change if they’ve veered off course.
Shifting to a management role is a big responsibility. It may mean taking a step back to reorient yourself so you can be strategic about your role.
Are you dealing with new responsibilities and big changes at work? How are you managing?
Leave a comment below. And, if you have a burning question, leave it in the comments or reach out to me directly. I’ll cover it on the blog.