Every manager should focus on value, meaning everything and everyone contributes to the value of a company. If coworkers do not understand how they can be valuable, they will be frustrated and feel unappreciated.
So before going through some of the steps for being a better manager, make sure that there is a clear understanding of career paths and positions available for coworker aspirations. And if a coworker is content in their current position, think about how they can create more value through their performance in that role.
Know Your Coworker’s Professional Goals
Plan a meeting with each of your team members and ask these questions:
- Where would you like to be in the company in 1 year? 3 years? 5 years?
- What is your plan to achieve these goals?
- What resources and training do you need to accomplish these goals?
- What can I do to better support you in the process?
Understand and appreciate the value of someone’s professional future.
Compliment the Little Things
It is easy to point out performance errors and give kudos for big accomplishments, but don’t forget to appreciate the little or seemingly mundane actions. To do this, you must be aware of the things that may be taken for granted. Suppose you work in customer service and hear one of your coworkers help a client with an unusual but minor issue.
Later that day or even the next morning, you could quietly compliment them on their helpfulness and courtesy. Ensure the compliment is sincere and you mention specifically what you admired and why. And, as always, be professional. “I was impressed by the way you were able to help Ms. Jones with her order. Giving her delivery options let her know you were listening and aware of her concerns.” Acknowledge the value of little things.
Take Time to Reflect & Plan
Sometimes, we have conversations with coworkers when our mind is on something else. You may be unable to give your full attention at that moment, so reflect on the conversation when time allows. What is their perception of the discussion or the situation? Later, you might mention that you thought about the conversation and wanted to propose a plan or solution or ask a few more questions.
Perhaps one morning, a coworker asks if they could take their breaks at 3 pm instead of 3:30 pm, and you say that the schedule has already been made (since you were late for a meeting). But after reflecting on it later that morning, you realize that you could easily fulfill their request and immediately inform the coworker.
Suppose there was a more serious conversation with a coworker, but again, not one that was planned. Reflection on the conversation may take a little research and analysis. In playing the conversation back in your mind, you may realize that you misinterpreted their meaning or do not fully understand the situation. Taking the time to readdress a conversation professionally lets people know you value their input and concerns.
It is much easier for team members to work with a thoughtful manager rather than a “too busy” manager. Your coworkers will appreciate the effort and understanding. It is wise to remember that what is a small thing to you could be a significant issue to someone else. It could be that your coworker’s grandmother was having surgery and wanted to talk to them at 3 pm before the surgery started. Maybe they were apprehensive about asking and felt it was too personal to mention. Or maybe they did not feel you were approachable.
Put it in Writing
Follow up with a brief text or email reiterating the expectations after every conversation, whether on the phone or in person. For example, “Joe, thanks for informing me of the delay in the paper delivery. I will inform marketing that it will arrive tomorrow morning.” If there is a misunderstanding, then Joe has an opportunity to clarify.
Practicing this will also let your coworkers know the importance of managing expectations by following up in writing. If a customer says in a phone conversation, “order 50 cartons of number 17 calipers,” then immediately follow up with an email clarifying the directive. “Julie, I am sending the order in for the calipers. I want to make sure I have your order correct. Please confirm the order for 50 cartons of number 17 calipers. The reply might be, “I am sorry, Mark, I meant 50 cartons of number 7 calipers. Thanks for following up.”
Your coworkers and clients will appreciate the value of detail. While it may seem tedious, it’s better than losing a customer over who eats the cost of 50 cartons of number 17 calipers.
Being professional does not mean being a robot. It means your actions are based on human understanding. Professional managers understand the importance of fairness, efficiency, and accountability. They don’t hold themselves above it because they know the value of respect.
Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site dedicated to helping readers improve their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her listening to audiobooks while gardening, visiting with family, or traveling.