The Best Managers Do 5 Things Differently
Updated: May 31, 2021
We often compete to share the stories of our worst managers. The poignant point here is that experience with a bad manager is so prolific that we CAN compete to share the worst stories.
What if instead of competing to share stories of having the worst manager we could compete with stories of the best manager? How would you even know what the best managers do? Gallup data has identified 5 practices they do best:
They individually motivate and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
They make decisions based on productivity, not politics. (LOVE THIS!)
They craft a culture of clear accountability.
They drive outcomes with the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue and full transparency.
But how do the best managers do this? They don’t do these things separately. For example, creating a culture of clear accountability is often the result of building relationships of trust through open dialogue and full transparency. Having the ability to openly ask questions, find answers together, and talk about how actions support the mission connects every action to clear and measurable outcomes. Thus, the vision stays in focus, people know how their performance is measured and where their responsibilities are to meet expectations.
Let me share some tips from a recent report that highlights two amazing managers – a prior college football player now in medical sales (Jerry Rudzinski) and a cancer survivor and an oncology nurse (Lanell Jacobs).
While Jerry and Lanell are in different industries, their shared desire to treat people holistically is well received in both.
Treating People Individually to connect the mission In the high-pressure environment of oncology, where nurses suffer from empathy burnout, Lanell cares for her employees as people, paying close attention to both their professional and personal needs. She realizes that employees possess the intrinsic need to feel cared for and be recognized for their efforts, thus, Lanell is diligent about providing one-on-one time with each to evaluate their work and personal needs for their overall well-being. Lanell also involved her team in selecting the mission of the hospital, which allowed them to have ownership of what it meant. With a mission that read: “Be the best at what we do — always with compassion,” it became a beacon upon which to measure performance as well as understanding the need to treat patients as individuals too.
Trust builds positive results Lanell offers: “The most important part of building a team is trust. I must trust them, and they must trust me. I am present, approachable and involved, and I recognize what each person is doing well.” Because of this, she has been able to fully engage her team in the ministry of treating individuals and providing support for family members which aligns with the mission of their hospital successfully.
Jerry is in the medical technology field of sales with employees in different regions. Trust is hard to build in the sales industry due to the nature of attrition, performance demands, and high levels of customer service and yet he loves finding, coaching, and developing talent. Regularly, Jerry and his team leaders will join their reps in a “ride-along,” and they often use Gallup’s strengths-based management coaching materials to understand how best to engage each employee individually. This individual treatment allows Jerry and his team to understand and communicate how to reach their goals using their strengths. “The key is communication and winning. One without the other is a dead end,” Jerry says. “It is tough to build camaraderie [trust] in the dark. It is also tough to spread goodwill when there are no positives.” Connecting how to ‘win’ builds positive results for all.
Mission and Vision to build resilience and results Jerry uses the company’s mission to motivate himself and his team. “I want to be part of the greatest company in the world, and that’s the end in my mind. Everything we do, every agenda we set, every customer we talk to, every meeting we plan — we’re going to have that end in mind.”
Lanell believed that a team mission would serve an additional purpose. She knew that her employees would have days that were emotionally and mentally exhausting, and she wanted their mission to be a source of inspiration and reassurance in those stressful moments. “A mission brings people together, and it gives them something to come back to, especially when things get difficult or seem overwhelming,” Jacobs says. “The mission allows them to persist through.”
Productivity – NOT Politics Of the best practices listed, this was one of my favorites. Being a Texas native from a small town, small town politics is nothing to sneeze at. Who you knew was often more important than what you did or how you performed. Often hires and promotions were based on who liked you – no pressure!
While Lanell holds herself accountable as a leader, she also holds her staff members accountable for their roles. She ensures that each team member understands the responsibilities of his or her job and is performing to those expectations. Productivity from performance is recognized and rewarded instead of relying on office politics to dictate who gets rewarded.
Jerry embraces a servant-leadership orientation: He expects the best from his people, but he also expects the best for his people. That’s one of the many reasons people want to work for him.
How will you embrace these 5 practices?
Start today in understanding that many people with diverse top talents can all succeed if they understand how to implement these 5 practices. There are many approaches to success just like there are many ways to reach a goal. Defining the goal is the most critical aspect of success. Adopting these 5 practices should be the goal of every new manager. That’s exactly where Gallup’s Strengths Assessment can help you. Start with learning about your strengths then learn how to pinpoint and maximize your team’s strengths.