The media has warped our sense of perception about today's work environment. Everyone wants to work for the perfect company. The perfect boss. The perfect plan for the perfect future. Since when do we think that perfection is attainable?
There is help for managers that are dissatisfied with their current situation. There is also help for new managers looking for ways to step up their game and take charge of their careers.
One of the primary burdens managers faces is the insane amount of administrative work. A 2018 West Monroe study surveyed 500 managers and found that approximately 60% of managers spent upwards of 4 hours a day responding to emails, status updates, reports, and other non-value-added work. With more communication platforms available in many companies, employees are more apt to spend insufficient time with their teams.
So, how should you spend the other half of your time at work to create your path to success? The short answer is laser-focused on each team individual to produce indisputably successful results.
Create your path to success – Step 1: Understand your direct reports
Sounds obvious, but this is more than just knowing the little things that we learn about each other over time. We are talking about three specific areas for the manager to focus on.
- How do they interact in the workplace?
- How do they execute their work tasks and start newly assigned projects?
- How do they deal with risk and decision making?
Interacting in the workplace:
- As an example of high dominance: Let's take Tom, who has an extremely high drive to be dominant. People who have a high drive to be dominant also want to impact the organization. In this case, the manager will want to give him some independence and more ability to control their work activities.
- As an example of a high drive to seek stability in their work environment: Josh tends to work on one project at a time and likes to see the project through to completion. When he is asked to take on additional tasks, he feels overwhelmed. In this case, Josh's manager will provide supportive leadership and guidance when addressing new tasks or assignments.
- As an example of low extraversion/high reservedness: Brad needs his manager to communicate information about new projects early. This gives Brad the time to think things through and be confident in how he will tackle this new project.
- As an example of low stability, some people thrive on working on multiple projects: Jenny thrives on multi-tasking and trying new things. Her manager needs to give her frequent challenges and varied tasks. Alice would succeed on a super challenging project with a tight turnaround. On the other hand, Josh would be overly stressed and ineffective if this fast-track project was assigned to him.
Risk tolerance and decision-making style:
- As an example of a high drive for rules and structure: Joseph likes SOPs and needs lots of structure in his daily work regimen. He tends to be very precise and follows the rules. Joseph's manager wants to provide thorough, detailed responses to Joseph's questions and requests. Joseph would not take his boss seriously if the boss didn't like to document SOPs and work processes. Joseph might even think his boss is incompetent. We can begin to see how these interactions define the team dynamic.
- As an example of a low drive for rules and structure coupled with a high drive for extraversion: Jane loves to talk her problems through and takes the time to interact with all her teammates socially. She also will be amazingly comfortable executing her work without any SOPs and figuring things out on her own. She's constantly producing new ideas. Jane's manager needs to stay receptive to her new ideas and allow her to implement change. Jane looks at change as an opportunity.
Create your path to success – Step 2: Leverage your team's dynamic
As you begin to see how a combination of different personalities impacts a team, you can appreciate the importance of building a strong team dynamic. Highly performing teams require that all teammates be self-aware and transparent about their strengths and blind spots. The manager is responsible for maintaining a beneficial team dynamic.
Getting your teammates to understand their preferred working style, strengths, and blind spots will allow the team to maximize effectiveness. In addition, they also can't collaborate effectively with their coworkers if they're not aware of each other's work styles and what their combined strengths and caution areas are.
Be aware that Top Ten Percent Managers set the expectation that individual differences are welcome and that diversity improves the team's performance.
Cultivating an environment of transparency, awareness, and a willingness to work together sets the tone for each member to contribute to the team's success.
Through the utilization of people analytics, the team type is characterized to determine the strengths and blind spots at the team level so we can readjust the time to be more effective.
In addition, when the work to be done is compared against the team type, there is an additional set of strengths and blind spots that will provide the manager with insight into inherent gaps.
Did you ever wonder why some of what appear to be the most well-staffed teams with high levels of expertise fail? The team is unaware of its blind spots that prevent them from achieving their true potential.
Create your path to success – Step 3: Onboarding new team members
Good onboarding is essential not only to your team's success but also to new hire retention.
Two main components to focus on:
- Getting your new hire up to speed quickly
- Integrating them into your team
It is essential to recognize your new hire's attributes and potential blind spots to determine how you get them up to speed and integrated into the team.
Does the new hire want a general overview and independently get up to speed? Or does the new hire wish to have someone bring them through a very structured onboarding process?
An effective way to integrate new hires into the team is to schedule a series of one-on-one meetings with each team member.
Become a Top Ten Percent Manager
A manager's job is a huge responsibility, and you have gained the trust of your organization to fulfill this role. It used to be that being a manager just meant supervising your subordinates while they completed their work. Today, the manager role is much more than that.
Managers today drive employee performance and engagement. They are also expected to inspire, encourage, and motivate teams.