How well do you understand your company's business? For many roles, it isn't critical to know the ins and outs of the business model, marketing strategy, sales targets, etc., and you can get by without really understanding the larger context you're operating in. However, if you want to be able to ensure your team's viability in the short term and advance your career in the long term, it's worth your while to brush up a little on what you don't know. Understanding the business can help you in your career even if you don't plan to stay at this type of organization or even in this particular industry. Having worked at a startup, federal and state government agencies, higher education, management consulting, and international development. I can attest to the commonalities across industries and company size.
"I have kids your age" is not really something you want to hear from one of your direct reports. However, as the workforce becomes less tenure-based and more results-based, this is going to become familiar to a lot of managers. It might be tempting to just laugh it off, but if age keeps coming up in team conversations, it might be worth addressing the issue head-on.
Some management pitfalls reflect a lack of skill, but this one ironically occurs more frequently the more experienced and skilled the manager is. The problem? Answering employee questions. But wait, isn't that the job of a manager - to help employees carry out their work and give them the information they need to be successful? Well, yes....and the way in which you do it matters a lot.
One of the ways you can maximize your team's results is to clearly identify what matters most. A lot of things are important, but when push comes to shove and tough trade-offs have to be made, what are the non-negotiables? This process can help you identify and communicate your team's top priorities.
Organizations seem to really struggle with employee recognition. It's hard to implement programs that work for the whole organization. You have an advantage as a manager because you can customize for each employee. This is a quick and easy approach you can use to express appreciation to your employees, in a way that is actually meaningful.
The following approach will help you transition to a kanban model where you limit the number of projects that are active at any one time. It will also give you a visual representation of the work that you can use to communicate with your boss about where a new "#1 super-important priority!!!" project fits into what's already on the list. If nothing else, just having all your work documented in one place will be helpful in giving you a sense of accomplishment and focus.
Every job involves tasks that aren't our favorite things to do. As the saying goes, there's a reason they have to pay you to do your job. Once we gain more experience, the proportion of disagreeable tasks will hopefully diminish, but at the beginning stages of any line of work, there is usually a fair amount of "grunt work." Employees who are in their first post-college job don't always expect this, especially if they haven't had much internship experience. They lack the context to see why certain administrative tasks might be important, and they sometimes also don't see why higher-level employees couldn't do those tasks instead of them. It can be helpful to question "the way things have always been done," but only to a point. Sometimes, the work just needs to get done, and the reluctant employee just needs to do it. But what about those times when an employee consistently tries to avoid doing disliked tasks, whether openly or surreptitiously? Here are some questions to ask yourself and some options for you to consider in addressing this all-too-common management challenge.
As the team leader, you are an important influence in the kind of culture your team has. While it isn't totally under your control, especially if you are new to the organization, there is a lot you can do to reinforce and model the kinds of behaviors you want to see. Here are some ways you can foster an inclusive environment on your team.
Team meetings are an important tool for making the most of your team's capabilities. The problem is when people treat the meeting as the only event - the stuff that happens before and after is really important, too. The steps below will help you revise your current approach so that you get more out of each meeting.
Everyone hates meetings, so why and how do we end up with so many on our calendars? The truth is that what everyone hates are unproductive meetings. The format itself is not the problem. In fact, there are certain things that are best handled with live, person-to-person communication, and meetings can help a team accelerate in a way that a chain of 20 e-mails just can't.
They key isn't to get fewer meetings on your calendar, but to get more out of the necessary meetings you have. (And maybe decline those that you really, really don't need to be involved in, so that you have more time for these.)
Here's a list of the meetings that absolutely need to be on your calendar (even if it means missing other things), and how to make the most of them.