When I left the corporate world I thought managing people was impossible. When I was asked to take a lead on projects many employees didn’t want to do what I asked. I was lucky if they did half of what I asked.
I remember when my father coached my soccer team when I was in 6th grade. I yelled at another player because he was out of position and the other team scored. He called me over and asked me if I thought that helped my teammate. I shook my head no. It took a long time for that lesson to sink in.
I wasn’t wise enough to see my mistakes. I didn’t understand how to lead.
I now look back and wished I would have allowed people the flexibility to do great work, encouraged them to find new ways to improve and had more fun leading them.
There is no way for me to go back and change anything, but I can at least help you be a better leader.
It starts with thinking of yourself as a coach instead of a manager. Most people don’t want to be managed. They want someone to help guide them to be their best.
When I started my own business I thought my managing days were over. I could do what I wanted when I wanted without worrying about what other people thought of me.
As my time grew more crunched I had to be more efficient. I couldn’t do everything myself. In the past year I’ve hired a…
- Web designer
- Ebook designer
I hired these people to take work off my plate. I did my due diligence before I hired someone, but I made a huge mistake.
The people I hired were smart, talented and passionate. All the right ingredients.
But my first hire failed.
Now instead of blaming them and just hiring someone else right away. I took a step back and took a hard look at my hiring process. I looked back through my emails, notes, and thought about our conversations, I realized my mistake.
I wasn’t giving them any guidance. People don’t want to be managed. They want to be coached to be their best self. People want the freedom to do great work.
“Accountability increases the positive impact of coaching conversations and solidifies their rightful place as keys to organizational effectiveness.” - Monique Valcour of the Harvard Business Review
Employees want to understand and appreciate the vision and help build upon it. Not be micromanaged or feel confused by their choices. They want to create something and see progress toward it every single day.
So if you are a manager who wants more productivity out of your employees I suggest focusing on these questions:
Ask your employees:
What can I do to make your happier?
Wouldn’t you’ve loved to hear this question from your boss? I know I would have.
The more barriers you remove from people’s work day the less stress they have. For example if you have a meeting every Thursday at 10am, right when everyone starts to get in the zone, and you ask them to stop what they are doing to attend, then you are making it difficult for them to do great work.
Then ask yourself:
How can I help them see their progress?
Career progress is maybe the most important aspect of happiness at work. Employees want to understand that their hard work is making a positive impact.
How can I create positive experiences?
Young people don’t want new cars. They want experiences that help them feel connected to the people they work with. People stay at a job when the have a deeper connection with one person. How can you build upon these connections?
Does my team have core values in place?
Core values are vital to growing together as a team. If people don’t have similar values then it’s harder to get along. By writing down core values with your team they will use these core values to make smarter decisions.
Do I have a feedback loop in place?
It’s great that you asked them how you can make them happier. I bet they love hearing that question. If you only do this every 12 months then you are missing out on a lot of coaching opportunities and chances to learn from your employees. The best managers allow everyone to have input and allow the best ideas to rise to the top.
Being a better coach isn’t easy. There will be times you won’t listen as well as you should, but if you practice I promise you will be rewarded with more loyal employees who go the extra mile.
If you want to learn how to be a better coach to your employees then look into websites like the one I linked. I’m helping Tim grow his course because I believe coaching at work is a vital tool all great managers need.
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