How can I become a more effective manager? That’s a question that most of us ask at least once in our career, and more typically on a regular basis.
This weekend I was enjoying a cup of iced tea on a hot day with my Dad, who was a Supervisor for many years with a company that had a large production floor with many machine operators. He was recounting to me his “best days ever as a manager.” He got my attention!
In a world where demand is high and respect can be low, and where quality is essential but many managers struggle to find ways to motivate their staff to care, he found a few successes making a life-long impression that caused him to recount those days with joy. As he shared, I realized we’ve had similar experiences in many ways. In a series of posts, I'd like to share with you some ideas that we exchanged.
Thought #1: Walk the Floor (A.K.A. management by walking around)
As managers and supervisors, we often find ourselves huddled over a desk for the majority of the work day, scrambling to get enough done to go home at a reasonable hour. We know that we should be interacting with our staff, but honestly, who has the time? Getting into the workplace and taking a genuine interest in the team, however, can help to reduce turn-over and increase employee satisfaction, and we know that happy employees produce better work and stay longer with the organization. With the cost of turnover being somewhere between 20%-50% of an employee’s annual salary, keeping happy employees means a better bottom line. And also, let’s be honest, who enjoys spending time training new staff? It’s daunting!
I’ve visited many organizations where a top frustration is the wall that separates the team on the floor from the team in the office. Most of the time there’s a physical wall that causes division, but it’s also symbolic of how the folks on the floor often feel. Separated. Distanced. Lesser than. But the truth is that it’s the TEAM that brings the win. This is a good challenge to all of us, whether it’s a wall that divides us from the production floor, or an office door that acts as a barrier between us and those in a cubical just outside. If we’re feeling like the wall is insignificant, it’s probable that we’re not aware of what others may be feeling; like that wall amounts to something that’s insurmountable. As leaders, we cannot miss the importance of “community” and offering our team the sense that we’re in it together. After all, we are! It takes an intentional and deliberate act to offer time and attention to bring down the walls (whether they be literal or imagined) between us, and to encourage each individual to see that the sum of ourselves is greater than the sum of any one of us individually.
Want a practical picture of what that might look like? I once had a boss that was not only the president of the company in which I was a director, but also was the leader of 2 other organizations, all of which were growing and expanding toward new horizons. This guy was BUSY! But each time I’d walk into his office he’d make me feel as though he had all day. I was careful not to take too much of his time, but often he would occupy MY time with fun stories, or lessons of the industry. I knew he was too busy for such things, but this absolutely poured into me the idea that I was worth it. That was something worth working for. That, my friends, is TEAM!
TAKE ACTION: Remove the rose-colored glasses and take a hard and honest look at what tone you’re projecting to your team. Do you connect with them on a personal level? Do you know what their core values are; what’s important to them personally? When they come to see you, are you hurried and distracted, or totally focused on them for the few minutes that they are in your office? Do encourage them, using words like “we,” and “us,” and “team”? Do you go to their workspace, or only wait for them to come to yours? How often do you go to them with a simple thanks, or observation of something they’ve done well?
Kirsten Smith, founder of Made to Thrive Consulting has over 20 years Business Development and Management experience with small and large organizations alike, including those listed among the Fortune 500.
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