Whether you’re a new manager or have been managing others for years, there will come a point when you have to ask yourself if your management skills are effective. The real question, however, is how do you judge effectiveness? Getting results doesn’t quite cut it. Management skills aren’t just about results, but about the process. You may get the results you need from your team, but are you getting the best out of them?
There is no perfect profile for an effective manager. Every manager comes to a role with their own set of strengths. It’s knowing how to use them to ensure each employee is playing to his/her strengths that makes all the difference. If you spend more time during your performance reviews focusing on your team members’ weaknesses and areas of improvement, it’s a good indication that you may need to shift responsibilities a bit so that they are truly effective and happy with what they are doing. You’ll see a boost in morale and engagement if you do. Just to be clear, a weakness isn’t necessarily an area or task your team member is struggling with. You need to look for areas that drain their energy. They may be performing a task well, but if it goes against their natural strengths, it can leave them feeling depleted. This takes away from other areas or responsibilities that they could truly excel at.
Here are 3 steps to help you up your management skills:
1. Understand how your own strengths and weaknesses impact how you show up as a manager.
This may be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it’s probably the most rewarding. If you’re willing to accept that you have limitations and that even your strengths at times can hinder you, you’re already ahead. Much of management has to do with understanding how your actions will be interpreted. For example, you may be very analytical and it could be a great part of your success. However, if you constantly see everything through the lens of analysis and have a hard time being empathetic, you could run into issues.
2. Recognize the unique strengths of each team member.
It’s important for your team as a whole to understand the unique strengths of each individual. Equally important is accepting that no strength is better or worse than another. Each strength is simply different, but all are equally valuable. This can be difficult for many to accept, but it starts with self-evaluation. To get your team thinking about their own strengths and honor those in others, try the following exercise created by Gallup. As a team, have everyone identify what their strengths are with open dialogue. Next, have each team member pick a strength of theirs that they love and one that drives them crazy. For example, if one of their strengths is ideation, but they don’t have the expertise or focus to execute, it may drive them crazy. Finally, ask your employees to vocalize a strength they admire in another team member. This quickly shows your group how valuable each person truly is.
3. Make sure to leverage your team’s strengths.
Once everyone’s strengths are known, you and your team will use this information to distribute responsibilities on various projects. Knowing who excels at what (and enjoys doing so) will create a more cohesive and complementary environment. Do be aware though, it’s important to give everyone an opportunity to utilize a few of their strengths rather than repeatedly leaning into one strength for each individual. Otherwise, they may start feeling burnt out and as if they’re not getting to capitalize on all of their strengths. Creating a visual representation of your team’s strengths can be a great reminder as you approach projects and tasks. You can do this with an excel spreadsheet, or you can get visual with pictures or graphs.
When you manage to your team’s strengths, your employees will be more engaged. More engagement leads to higher retention and happier workers who produce their best work. Make engagement your goal as a manager and the results you need to achieve will follow along with all the added benefits!