It’s been a rapidly evolving time for managers. Between hybrid work, the Great Resignation, and quiet quitting—these are not your typical people management challenges. The new year makes for a great time to reevaluate approaches, try something new, and ditch old habits. This applies whether you’re a stellar, seasoned executive or a newly promoted manager. But with so many options for upping your game, it’s just as important to focus on the most impactful tactics to implement and emphasize. So what can a manager do to improve their effectiveness? Let’s discuss how to be a better manager in the new year with a fresh perspective.
5 Tips for How to Be a Better Manager
1. Set Meaningful Goals
To maximize their output and contribution, even the most challenging working employees need to understand how their role is connected to corporate goals and organizational success. As a manager, you already have plenty of insight into how the work assigned to each employee connects with larger organizational objectives. Your direct reports, however, won’t always have that context.
Managers can remedy this by better showing how their work relates to company-wide priorities. This helps instill a stronger sense of purpose and motivation. In addition, managers can establish more granular goals for their employees with a solid understanding of where the business is trying to go.
Leveraging the objectives and key results (OKR) framework is one method for helping team members set goals aligned with the big-picture strategic thrust of the entire organization. With the OKR framework, you first establish a qualitative objective (i.e., the desired end state). Then you determine what key results–quantifiable metrics–indicate the goal is on track to be reached.
Company OKRs are set at the leadership level. Then they are broken down into specific OKRs for departments, teams, and individual employees. For each employee’s two-to-five personal OKRs, each ties back to objectives set at higher levels. This ensures people’s goals stay aligned with the big picture, so individuals properly allocate their time and energy.
Revisit those goals regularly to check in on progress during performance reviews. This way, employees know that “doing a good job” is not just executing against a to-do list but helping the entire organization move the needle on critical strategic objectives.
2. Provide More–and Better–Feedback
Humans crave feedback, whether longing to be reassured they’re doing well or anxious they’re underperforming. Yet only 26% of employees report that their feedback helps them deliver better results.
All feedback isn’t created equal. Therefore managers need to give employees effective and constructive feedback.
First, we must check our instinct to go negative. It’s both daunting and demoralizing for employees. Additionally, 44% of managers find it stressful and challenging to deliver.
The better bet is to rely on a mix of positive and constructive feedback. Positive feedback boosts employee confidence while making them feel valued and appreciated. This leads to greater engagement and enthusiasm for their job.
Constructive feedback, meanwhile, threads the needle between helpful and critical. It does acknowledge the employee could have done better. But instead of scolding, they receive tips and advice on how to improve.
This also makes constructive feedback actionable. Employees can do something about it the next time they face a similar task or have an opportunity to revisit things. As a result, employees learn how to be better at their job, and managers reap those benefits in the future when they deliver superior work. This creates a win-win situation for everyone.
4. Manage To Your Team’s Strengths
When we see flawed things, our managerial instincts lead us to focus on what’s wrong. But as an employee, we want to lean into what we’re already good at to experience further success and bolster our confidence. This dynamic’s pervasiveness is widespread, but only 20% get to play to their strengths each day. Who wants to spend most of their time struggling with a daunting challenge? Instead, we’d rather use our existing skills, experience, and mastery.
Strength-based management means investing most of our efforts in utilizing our team’s strengths rather than weaknesses. This gives your team members a more enjoyable and fulfilling work experience and pays significant dividends for the entire business.
A global Gallup study of 1.2 million employees found quantifiable evidence that strength-based management impacts the bottom line. It increases sales by 10-19% and profits by 14-19% while increasing customer engagement by 3-7%.
Strength-based management also creates a happier workforce. It decreases turnover (26-72% in high-turnover organizations) and increases employee engagement by 9-15%. It even cuts down on safety incidents by 22-59%!
With so much upside, managers should emphasize employees identifying and naming their strengths and try to align work with those areas. Then, with that comfortable foundation, they’ll have the emotional and mental room to stretch themselves when those opportunities arise.
5. Be a Coach
All managers communicate priorities and give orders, but only 21% of employees report that how they’re managed motivates them to do outstanding work. One key ingredient for how to be a better manager and leader is spending more time and energy on how your team members approach meeting those objectives.
We tend to be directive when managing employees, giving them explicit instructions, suggestions, and advice. While the intention is helpfulness, the result can be helplessness instead. With an ultimate goal of empowering employees to take the initiative and problem-solve independently, these prescriptive measures don’t enable these individuals to experience minor setbacks and learn those lessons themselves.
The most effective coaching is supportive. Managers in coaching mode can ask questions that force employees to think through and articulate why they’re taking a certain approach or challenge their assumptions. Then, when they see employees are on the right track, they can offer agreement and approval.
The GROW coaching model provides an excellent framework for this style. It helps the coach and coachee to articulate the Goal and understand the current Reality of the situation. They can then explore potential Options before devising a Way forward.
Enroll Your Team in Training
Getting the most out of your team means investing in their success and development. While there’s a lot you can do for them yourself as their manager, there’s immense value in leveraging the expertise and cutting-edge techniques delivered by professional training providers.
Offering your employees training demonstrates your commitment to their continual growth and shows that you value their contribution. This helps attract and retain top talent. Nearly half of employees (48%) cite training opportunities as one reason they selected their current job. In addition, 76% say they’re more likely to remain with organizations offering continuous learning.
Establish a culture of continuous learning. 68% of employees prefer to learn or train on the job, so carve out the time for training and offer engaging, compellingly delivered sessions. It reaffirms that you view your team members as real human beings with their strengths, weaknesses, dreams, fears, and aspirations.
For best results, customize training options for each employee. This ensures their time spent in training addresses areas of weakness or builds new skills for career growth and advancement. On the other hand, you don’t want performers to tune out if it doesn’t seem helpful and relevant, especially since 60% of corporate training often doesn’t relate to the company’s strategic goals.
Invest in training for change initiatives
Training is also a great companion for any organizational change management initiatives. When workers must shift and adapt to new methods, processes, and approaches, it’s best to accompany those rollouts with learning programs. They can help assuage anxiety and uncertainty about those shifts. This makes team members feel more prepared for new expectations and workplace dynamics.
And don’t forget. You deserve training as well! You can always sharpen your managerial skills and learn new tricks. Continually working on being a better manager by investing in training, attending conferences, and reading blogs like this is excellent role modeling for your staff. It demonstrates a true commitment to learning and the understanding that every employee isn’t expected to show up on their first day of work fully prepared for all their job entails.
Position Your Team for Success in 2023
Your team is likely the No. 1 factor in whether you’ll achieve your own goals for the coming year, so make their success your top priority. By employing the five how to be a better manager tips above, you’ll also remain focused on giving them the foundation and support they’ll need to succeed.
With an engaged, aligned workforce given the direction and tools they need, there’s no telling what you can achieve together. So get started on making the most of the new year! Click here to inquire about Hone membership for your business today.