This article was based on episode 98 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Get Bekka’s worksheet and 10% off a coaching package when you become a member at mamieks.com/join. Purchase a full episode guides at mamieks.com/store.
Managers often experience their job as a never-ending laundry list of responsibilities that includes coaching, motivating, supporting, inspiring, aligning, and a myriad of other ‘ings’, not to mention getting their ‘real work’ done. In vain, they search for that “magic formula” that will create balance between working and managing, in hopes of making their work lives more efficient and, well, manageable.
But there is no magic formula for management. What’s more, as Bekka Prideaux believes, checking off long lists isn’t the most effective approach to developing a strong team. As a Leadership Development Coach and Consultant who for more than twenty five years has worked with some of the most recognizable brands in the world to develop great leaders, deliver successful projects and impressive business results, Bekka’s person-focused approach has catapulted her and her clients to great heights.
THE VENN DIAGRAM APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT
Bekka encourages thinking about everything a manager needs to do as a Venn diagram. The three circles include vision setting, growing your team, and executing on tasks. Bekka refers to this as the Curious Choice model. She explains that we all need to be curious when making choices about how to spend our time as managers.
Bekka educates on the importance of taking time to think before jumping to action. Reflect on what your organization needs your team to deliver as well as what your specific team members need. This will help you determine the optimal amount of time to spend in each area.
The proportion will change over time as the team and the work evolves. For example, someone who is new on your team will need more time in the growing and coaching circle compared to someone who already excels at what they do and understands where the team is going.
Most importantly, Bekka suggests that in order to be most effective and efficient, managers benefit from doing activities that hit two or three of the circles at once.
FOCUS ON YOUR TEAM MEMBERS
Strategic and thoughtful delegation falls right in the center. When you assign a new piece of work that potentially stretches your team member, you have the opportunity to share why this work is important and how it will impact the bigger picture (leading). You will also spend time coaching and supporting them and they learn how to fulfill this new responsibility (coaching). Lastly, they will be executing the work with your oversight and allowing you time to execute on other responsibilities (managing). This makes delegation a sweet spot for managers.
Delegate According To Their Interests.
By knowing what motivates your staff, you can find ways to make work more engaging for everyone. Referencing what the UK calls the “War on Talent” of retaining excellent team players, Bekka encourages managers to delegate work connected to staff’s individual interests. If you don’t, she warns, you're going to really struggle to keep that delegation momentum going and to keep the team engaged.
Whenever you delegate, be clear about whether this is a short term or one-off request or an ongoing responsibility. When you’ve delegated something that isn't within a person’s interest, if they know it’s short term, they’ll be more likely to complete the work in good spirits. Even a boss acknowledging the assignment wasn't what the employee necessarily wants to do makes the execution more palatable.
When employees feel like their assignments enable them to expand their role in ways that interests them, they feel more motivated than if it's a random task passed along that just needs to get done. Engaging your team in activities that they view as aligned with their development goals, increases their commitment to the organization.
Use Different Communication Styles.
Regardless of whether you’re leading, coaching or executing, your ability to communicate effectively is critical. As people have different communication preferences, it’s helpful to be aware of the distinct communication style of each team member. As Bekka points out, if you're not getting the action or that understanding back, then you haven't actually communicated, you've just transmitted.
Part of your ability to communicate effectively is reliant upon your team members telling you when you’ve been unclear. Bekka recommends encouraging your team members to give you feedback when something isn’t working for them. Your ability to listen and adjust will further strengthen your relationship with that person.
FOCUS ON YOURSELF
All of this individual focus can take a manager away from her own needs. By thinking through the why, how, and when of interruptions, proper boundaries can be made so that managers can get their own work done.
Make sure you know why a team member is coming to you.
Before responding to a team member’s request, ask yourself what is needed in this moment. Are they coming to you because they don’t understand how to do something, because they lack confidence and they need you to say "I trust you, you can do this”, or is there a real, new problem that you need to jump on right away? Through understanding where the problem lies for your employee, you can address it effectively.
Be Clear When You’re Interruptible And When You’re Not.
Let your staff know your boundaries. Share with them what hours you need for yourself during which you should not be interrupted. If there are exceptions, make a list of the kind of things you are interruptible for (and the things you're not). If you want your team members to make decisions on their own, be sure you’ve explicitly given them the accountability for a task rather than just the actions.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE PEOPLE
Until you’ve invested in your team, Bekka preaches, they won’t deliver their best for you. To build these relationships, you must truly listen to your team. Instead of making one-on-one meetings just about the projects at hand, use the time to nurture the relationship by getting to know them on a personal level. Work to understand deeply who this individual is, what they want, and what they have to offer. From this understanding, you can coach them more effectively, give them tasks that relate to their interests, and relay the team’s vision in a way that relates to them.
When you take the time to organize your approach to management so that it aligns with your organization’s goals and team members’ needs, you’ll discover you are able to achieve much more than just checking off your to-do list.
KEEP UP WITH BEKKA
This article was based on episode 98 The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.