A mistake that many of us make when carrying out our day-to-day role is to try and do too much. We start with the right intentions, which are usually to get things done and to be effective. However, trying to do too much at once is usually a one-way route towards not getting anything done. At best, you get everything done but the outputs are subpar.
The same is true for learning. Each week, I write an article about how you can be a more effective manager and leader. The truth is, you can’t implement everything that I write about each week, as much as you may want to.
2024 is here and I’d like to give you somewhere to focus as you work through this year.
So, below I’ve listed three areas that all managers need to develop in order to be more effective.
But that isn’t what makes them useful. The thing that makes use areas useful and important to develop, is the fact that if you master one of them, it makes many, many other related things far easier to manage.
My advice – pick one area below where you think you can make the biggest impact on your ability to manage your team and focus on.
1. Master the art of the one to one meeting
I’ve said before that the one to one meeting is a superpower for managers. If you get them right, pretty much everything else becomes far easier. It can improve every aspect of your leadership, including:
- Increased trust because of the very regular, effective communication style.
- Improved problem solving because problems aren’t left to linger, they are talked about quickly.
- More productive weeks because you can use the time to ensure that your team member is focusing on the right things and by helping them remove blockers.
- A lack of surprises at more formal review meetings because you communicate regularly and are less likely to be blindsided by some feedback or a problem.
The list could go on, but I’m sure that you get the idea.
2. Learn how to look after yourself
You can’t be an effective leader or manager if you’re not able to look after yourself. One of the biggest challenges for managers is being able to strike a balance between managing your team and managing your own workload. Most managers, particularly new ones, aren’t full-time managers. By this, I mean that your responsibilities aren’t solely focused on managing others, you probably still have responsibilities that involve delivering day-to-day work and projects too.
For example, if you’re a web developer and you manage a team, chances are that you also work on code day-to-day as well as managing people. This can make it hard to focus and prioritise the right areas at the right time. If you have a team member who is struggling and needs your help, right at the same time that a key client is demanding that you commit some code, what do you prioritise?
You have very little chance of being able to do this unless you can do a few things:
- Manage your own workload and time.
- Manage your own mental energy.
- Keep control of your own stress levels.
Like the previous focus area relating to one on one meetings, if you can get hold of these areas and look after yourself, almost everything else becomes far easier. If you lose control of these things, everything definitely becomes harder to manage effectively.
3. Become excellent at delivering feedback
Finally, one of the most fundamental aspects of being an effective manager – delivering feedback. Like the previous points, if you can master this, everything else that you work on as a manager will become easier. In fact, the biggest causes of stress and anxiety as a manager are likely to be things that require you to deliver feedback.
- Someone not delivering work to a high enough standard.
- Managing someone’s negative or damaging behaviours.
- Telling someone that they’re not getting promoted or getting a pay rise.
The solutions to these scenarios are rooted in delivering feedback and therefore, if you’re not comfortable, let alone effective, with delivering feedback, then you’re going to struggle massively.
On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with delivering, even if these kinds of scenarios make you stressed or anxious, these feelings will only last a short time because you’ll deal with them efficiently.
One of the strongest cultures that I ever worked within was full of super smart, ambitious people. But that wasn’t what made the culture or the work that was delivered strong. What made the culture amazing was the ability for pretty much everyone to deliver and receive feedback in the right way. It was special.
If you want to focus on being more effective at delivering feedback next year, go and take a look at this cheat sheet for delivering feedback and this framework that you can use to deliver day-to-day feedback.
Remember – pick one! Read the articles, go and Google it and read more, but just pick one and try to get better at it as you work through your development in 2024.