Welcome to Part I of this three-part blog-series on How to be a Great Manager. In this series, I’ll be sharing how you can unlock your hidden potential and elevate your ability to lead and manage people.

Did you know a staggering 70% of the total US workforce is disengaged at work? And this spans across ALL levels of organizations. I don’t know about you, but I found this number shocking – to think 7 out of 10 people aren’t engaged in what they’re doing at work – especially when most of us are spending at least 40 hours a week there – seems unbelievable, right?

But wait, the numbers get even scarier. Did you know that the key factor responsible for the high level of disengagement is the employee’s manager? One in two employees report leaving their job for the sole reason of “getting away from their manager!” So, while we might think we’re doing a great job as managers, the data suggests otherwise.

Based on these findings, I wanted to learn and understand more about what could be done to start shifting these numbers so I spent some time reflecting on my many years as a people manager, I reached out and chatted with several colleagues who I respected as people managers and talked to several clients who are people managers.  As a result of all of this, three themes emerged around what it means to be a great manager and retain your team:

  1. Defining Expectations and Empowering Others to Deliver Them (Part 1 of the series – this blog)
  2. Effectively Communicating and Providing Timely, Actionable Feedback (Part 2 of the series)
  3. Recognizing and Knowing How to Activate Potential (Part 3 of the series)

Defining Expectations and Empowering Others to Deliver Them

This is all about clearly defining goals, what success looks like and ensuring people have the right resources to deliver.

For example, if you have an assignment or initiative that needs to get done, the first thing you’d want to do is determine which of your team members should take the lead on the project and talk to that person about leading the project.  There’s nothing worse than having manager talk to several people about an assignment or initiative and no one having clarity around who owns delivering the assignment or initiative.

Once you’ve identified the best person for the job, the next thing is to ensure you communicate clearly what needs to get done, why it needs to get done and when it needs to be done by.

For example, you might tell your team member Steve, to create a create a 10-minute sales presentation for customer x demonstrating how our new product meets their needs better than the competition and have it completed and to you no later than Friday July 17th.  This is clear and specific, and Steve knows exactly what you expect and when you expect it.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider Steve’s knowledge base and skill set.  If he’s never created a sales presentation, he’s likely going to need more specific direction but the above would be perfect direction for a seasoned salesperson.

What you want to avoid is getting too into the weeds about how they should do it.  Saying things to a seasoned salesperson like; “you should have a page about this and a picture of this” is likely going to stifle and demotivate the person.

After you’ve been clear about what you want and when you want it, the next thing you want to do is make sure the individual has the resources needed to deliver.  This means thinking about what they’ll need and asking them what they think they’ll need and getting that for them.

For example, you might say something like the below to Steve:

  • Alice just completed some market research and will likely have some great data you can use so you might want to connect with her
  • I’ve talked with Charlie and he has some capacity to help you gather data so feel free to engage him
  • Don’t hesitate to let me know if there are other resources or support you need to be successful with this

Saying things like this to the employee lets them know you’re focused on setting them up for success and that you care about their success.

I know some of this might seem straight-forward and more of a reminder, but this isn’t happening in the world today – so try and be mindful when you’re in the moment and bit stressed to check yourself and see if you’re really doing this.

Also consider the degree to which you trust your team to their job. Often times the reason we don’t do what we need to do is because we don’t trust the people to deliver.  If this is the case for you, please really think about what needs to change so you can trust your team.

That’s it for the first part of this series. Don’t forget to check back soon for the next part in the series, which is all about Effectively Communicating and Proving Timely, Actionable Feedback.

And if you’re interested in talking further about becoming a great manager, don’t hesitate to reach out to me – tracy@clearpathcoachingco.com.