How do you grow as a manager? Moving from individual contributor to manager means growing to heights you’ve never been before––from seedling to sapling to tree.
You’re crossing into new territory. So what can you do to put down roots that stand the test of time?
Much like a trellis provides a plant with a pathway to grow, expectations clear the way for managers and direct reports to progress together successfully.
Here are a few questions to help you identify expectations…
At the company level
- What are values-based behaviors we all are expected to show? (ex: If your value is service, you might be expected to always help out wherever you can.)
- What are the expectations around hours, vacation, working from home?
- How do we communicate as a team? (For example, what’s an instant message versus an email?)
For yourself as the manager
- How do you like to be communicated with? (Platform, hours, level-of-detail, frequency)
- What standards do you have for certain types of work? (For example, I expect an email to be proofread 3 times before it’s sent out)
- What are your goals or vision for the team/your direct reports?
To ask your direct report
- How do they like to be communicated with?
- How would they like their manager to support them? (Hands-on mentorship, hands-off support, etc.)
- What are their goals?
Now go and communicate that with your direct reports or wider team. Without clear communication on expectations, what could be an impressive forest will remain a small grove. Start with clarity.
Be intentional with your 1:1s
Watering your plants regularly is a must, not a maybe. That consistent attention and nurturing is what promotes growth. As a manager, having intentional 1:1 meetings with your direct reports is an important part of developing relationships as well as keeping a pulse on your team’s engagement and motivation.
7 1:1 Best Practices
- Ask questions. Listen four times as much as you talk.
- Protect the time—try not to cancel.
- Give the person 100% of your attention.
- Have your direct report set the agenda.
- Don’t take homework back. Instead brainstorm, coach, and discuss with your direct report to find a solution.
- Agree on an action plan.
- Be a human. Make sure you save time to check-in on them at a personal level.
Ultimately, 1:1 meetings aren’t a time for you to drive your own agenda, they’re for showing up and supporting your direct report. And, to do that you have to actively listen to what they’re telling you. Find more information on how to actively listen in this blog.
Give and receive feedback
Much like how you approach your 1:1s with intentionality, the way you deliver feedback to your direct reports will determine whether your relationship flourishes or wilts.
As a manager, it’s your role to give your direct reports the support, tools, and resources they need much like you would give a plant sunlight, fresh air, and water. If you prune a branch improperly, you could be opening up your direct report (and yourself) to conflict and resentment that spreads like an infection. If you don’t prune the branch, a new, stronger one might never grow. Feedback is a gift, remember that.
So, be mindful of your approach. Ensure you’re:
- Actively listening
- Getting to the root of the problem
- Collaborating on a solution
- And putting the next steps in writing (done by your direct report!)
And make sure you’re also creating space for your direct report to give you feedback as well. You can’t grow as a manager without your own direction. Ask for feedback early and often.
Sturdy trees take many years to reach their full potential. They weather the elements and grow taller and stronger because of it. Know that in being a manager, you won’t always get it right on the first or even the 100th time. You’ll encounter folks that love you and folks that hate you. You’ll have moments where you did the right thing and moments where you didn’t. As long as you’re committed to doing your best, always striving to grow, and most importantly, being dedicated to the people that depend on you–––you’ll reach awesome heights.
You’ve started building your management skills, what now? Learn more about developing your young talent with our blog on growing your interns and creating a successful internship program..