A Blueprint for Artful Management

Managers frequently make this mistake over and over again! Make sure you’re not one of them by following this blueprint for managing employees. The content of this article focuses on twelve components of an approach to management that really gets you the results you want:

1. Develop the entire person.

Individuals are the sum of many parts. As you grow your staff, keep in mind that they are more than machines cranking out technical skills. They function within a framework of relationships and responsibilities outside of the workplace. They have feelings. They carry burdens. They have hobbies. They get hungry and fatigued. They have spirits that need fed and egos that require stroking. Create a development plan that pays attention to all of these.

2. Coach people according to their individual needs.

Avoid a cookie cutter approach to internal coaching. Know your people, and create coaching plans that are relevant to their unique selves. Establish goals and corresponding time lines. Then hold folks accountable to these goals and dates. Conduct periodic check-ins to ensure that progress is being made—or to find out how you can be a resource when they get stuck.

3. Explore possibilities.

Invite your staff to share ideas, opinions, and feedback on a regular basis. Be open to hearing things you wouldn’t have considered on your own. Inspire people to get their creative juices flowing. The key to making this work is YOU demonstrating an eagerness to collect a variety of possibilities without judging them initially.

4. Jump-start staff energy.

Proactively ask people what energizes them. Find out specifically what makes them excited, inspired, interested, and engaged. Don’t assume you know the answers to that question. You’ve got to talk with individuals personally, and create a safe environment for them to get real with you.

5. Instruct when necessary.

There are times when you as the supervisor must provide some instruction to staff. Whether it happens individually or in a group, situations arise when this is most appropriate. If you see somebody about to make a huge mistake, it’s your job to take the person aside and turn the next ten minutes into a “teachable moment”. Be sure to do this in a way that acknowledges that person’s intelligence and experience.

6. Stretch staff beyond their comfort zone.

By nature human beings want to feel comfortable and safe. One of your responsibilities as a supervisor is to nudge people out of that cozy box they’ve put themselves into and encourage them to take even tiny steps in a new direction. When they experience success along the way, they discover an increase in self-confidence. That in itself is a great reward for venturing into new territory.

7. Establish a partnership with your employees.

This doesn’t mean that staff run the whole show or tell you as the boss what to do. It means that everybody gets clear about what each person brings to the workplace table and then others rely on a particular individual for a certain skill or piece of knowledge. Partnership here refers to identifying everybody’s major talents (including yours) and tapping into them so projects get completed as effortlessly as possible.

8. Demonstrate empathy.

Supervisors can have an impressive technical skill set, but if they lack empathy for their people, they usually fail. You have to show empathy to the folks you manage. This isn’t about making excuses for bad behavior or chronically missed deadlines. It’s about telling Tom that you really appreciate how he got the project done on time despite his child being sick all week. It’s about taking a moment to talk with Susan after you learn that her mother just died.

9. Share the big picture.

People perform better when they understand precisely how they fit into the larger picture. Talk about the company’s vision during both individual and team meetings. Explain to folks what their role is in the overall scheme of delivering services or producing goods. Show them how THEY matter. Talk often about the value of their unique contribution.

10. Motivate staff so they can’t wait to get to work.

This is more than lighting a fire under people to meet a deadline. This is about turning people on to exploring what is possible. It’s about helping each and every one to find his inner “juice.” Did you ever consider what it would be like to electrify your staff? What would it take to do that and what would the outcome be?

11. Create a culture that develops healthy relationships among employees.

Such relationships make room for celebrating each person’s strengths, encouraging reliance upon each person’s contributions, and allowing different people to function as leaders in various circumstances. But these relationships also invite staff to question each other, disagree with each other, and challenge each other in respectful ways.

12. Permit staff to outshine the boss.

Ouch! Many individuals in supervisory roles cannot deal with this. Their egos resist it. You’ll know you’ve really matured as a manager when you not only allow some outshining but actually set the stage for it to happen. Keep in mind that you are not at all diminished if an employee does something more effectively—more brilliantly– than you. If you’re truly grounded and secure in your own gifts, you can actually applaud the staffer who glitters.

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