To be or Not to Be.........a manager is the question. After a few years starting off in any job, most people ask the question, should I become a manager or continue to be an individual contributor?
In some countries, taking the role of a manager is not only prestigious but also the only way to grow one's compensation. In other countries such as in the U.S, a solid individual contributor can not only rake in the cash like any other manager but also is accepted and respected in the organization. What are the primary qualities to be a good manager? Am I cut out for it? Can I learn to be a good manager? Successful managers guide their team members to achieving a common set of business goals by respecting their opinions, acting promptly on the feedback and sharing the stage with the team.
LISTEN: Earning the trust of each team member is probably the most important trait to be a good manager. The first step to building trust is respecting each member's opinion. Accepting the fact that each member has a valid contribution to make, whether it agrees with the managers or not, is absolutely critical. Building an environment where each employee is open to offering their own perspective on how to improve their organization will prove to be utterly useful in the long term. I remember the days when I was a marketing manager and used to walk in to the CEO's office to provide him my perspective on how to improve his communication to the employees. Having gained his respect, I was often provided a chance to review his emails to employees prior to publishing it. There is no better organization that one where each employee feels the ownership to provide direct feedback to their managers without thinking one second on the possibility of a repercussion. LISTENing is an important skill that every manager needs to develop over one's career. Learn to LISTEN WITHOUT BIAS.
ACT: Once an environment to accept each member's opinion has been created, it is important for the manager to ACT on the feedback at the earliest. There is no worse insult to the team when the manager acts on his own impulse disregarding the feedback provided by the team members. I distinctly remember one CEO to whom I was reporting to felt insulted when provided feedback and took diametrically opposite direction just to prove that he could act on his own. The company disintegrated into a political mess in less than 1 year where employees realized that it is better for their career to provide inputs that the manager would agree on rather than provide inputs that would be publicly derided upon. A manager who can be trusted to ACT on feedback develops a deep TRUST with the employees and tends to develop an organization where employees focus more on getting work done rather than jousting for political limelight. First listen then ACT PROMPTLY.
SHARE: A true manager will not only listen and act on feedback from the team but also willing to share the stage with each of the team member. Sharing is never easy. I have seen very few managers in my few decades of work experience who are eager to share the limelight with their team members. Over 70% of the employees that I interviewed for this blog were 100% sure that their managers provided no credit to their work or ideas when communicating to their managers. Managers should learn to let their guard down and provide credit to each of their employees in any forum. It brings out the fact that the manager cares for his/her employees and therefore strengthens the bond between the manager and his/her team members. SHARE WITH DELIGHT.
There is no doubt that an organization with managers who listen, act and share will not only be most productive but also provide an environment where the employees will develop an enduring and fulfilling career. The best managers go the extra mile in helping their members achieve their personal goals by aligning the personal needs with the organization's.
If you are already a manager or would like to be one, just remember to LISTEN to each employee, ACT based on what you have heard and SHARE the stage and your knowledge with your team. If you are running an organization , make sure that the managers are assigned enough TIME to MANAGE their people. It is already very hard for a first time manager to leave his/her ego behind and HELP his team. The organization must support and understand the time required to manage a team.