If you want to improve your business overall, you need to look beyond the performance of your employees, and toward your managers as well. While making sure your main workforce is content and running smoothly is important, it’s equally necessary to ensure your managers are in tip top condition.
When one of your managers isn’t doing their best, you can bet their team will be underperforming as well. This is a phenomenon dubbed the Cascade Effect, which reports that employees who work for ‘engaged’ managers are a massive 59% more likely to feel engaged with their work. In short, your manager’s outlook and behaviour in the workplace enormously impacts your business as a whole.
But how do you support your managers effectively? It’s simple—you set professional development goals, and work together to ensure they’re met!
Setting professional development goals for your managers
Particularly for new managers, professional development goals can help to keep them on the right track as they progress in their roles. When unproductive or negative habits develop unchecked, entire teams can be impacted further down the line—and this in turn can potentially impact the company as a whole.
From soft skills like listening and empathising with their team, to time management and developing a growth mindset, setting professional development goals for your managers will see your company flourish. Here some ideas for areas to set goals in…
One to one meetings between managers and their staff should be common anyway—but it’s important to make sure they’re doing what they need to.
A lot of time in these kinds of meetings is wasted on things like status updates, a lack of preparation and focus, and frequent rescheduling. To resolve this, try creating a one to one template that your managers can follow, in which they work through set criteria and build up a rhythm over time. Agendas work!
How many leaders have been let down by a lack of effective listening? Encourage your managers to be curious, rather than domineering, to increase the likelihood that new and exciting ideas are unearthed from within their teams—ideas that may otherwise have been talked over.
Encourage active listening: reflecting on what their staff members have to say, repeating their ideas back to them for clarification, and asking questions.
Getting the team on board
Your managers won’t be able to implement any necessary changes without their team following them. A common mistake made by managers is to make a sweeping decision and simply assume that, because their job title puts them in that position, people will get on board and follow them. Often in these cases, the team itself gets very little input in the matter, and is expected to simply fall in line.
It’s unwise of managers to give no warning or influence to their teams; it can leave them feeling out of the loop and unimportant. If you set professional development goals that encourage your managers to search for potential issues and concerns before the fact, however, they’ll be able to handle objections and present the whole idea in a much more engaging and productive way. One on ones are a great time to conduct this research, and for showing leadership and vision.
One problem many managers encounter is the need to constantly be more productive. They soon reach a ceiling, however, and no matter how hard they push or how many late nights they work, they can’t make up the slack. The key to resolving this problem is to multiply productivity.
If four of your manager’s team are experiencing a problem, identifying and removing said blocker quadruples the impact of your manager’s productivity, while they’ve still done the same amount of work themselves. To encourage your managers to adopt a ‘multiplying’ state of mind, have them ask search for signs of common blockers and issues when conducting one-to-one meetings with the team. Then find a common solution!
Learning to manage emotions
A stressed-out, angry, or nervous manager can impact their entire team. Similarly, however, a manager exuding positivity, optimism, vision and creativity will zap life into everybody around them.
Alongside encouraging your managers to practise self-care and look after themselves, you could include in their professional development goals the need for them to leave gaps in their work calendar. If their entire week is pre-blocked out with meetings and calls and events, your managers will have no time for reflection on the team as a whole, no quiet moments for ideas to brew, and no time for considering the bigger picture. Taking a break can be very valuable indeed.
Reading a wide range of books
What many new managers don’t realise is that, for good leaders, there never comes a time when they sit back, fold their hands behind their heads and think ‘I’ve learned all I can’. It’s a continuous process of learning, and in some cases, unlearning.
Encouraging your managers to read more is a great goal to set for them, even if it’s only a book every couple of months. There are thousands of helpful books out there on management and leadership—and some inspirational examples may not necessarily come from the non-fiction shelf.
The best managers are strong coaches. As well as growing in themselves, they need to help the growth of others around them, which means helping their team achieve their own dreams and goals within the workplace. Research has found that we’re happiest when workers are at their happiest when meeting small, regular goals, which leaves them feeling that they’re making progress and moving forward in their careers.
For your managers, taking a personal interest in the career development of their team will lead to deeper interpersonal relationships, a happier working environment and a more motivated workforce in general. Once this has been achieved, it’s smooth sailing for your business.