Being an effective manager requires day-to-day attention to detail, the ability to anticipate and plan for dynamic situations and a bit of luck. You are your team’s pilot and navigator; plotting the course, arranging the schedules, tasking the players and making mid-course corrections to produce deliverables on-time and on-budget.
To a large extent the classic “Kindergarten Rules” apply to being a frontline supervisor. Smile. Share. Play nice. Say please and thank you. Here are 4 other tips to make the job easier.
Walk Around. Managing by walking around. Let your guys see you. Engage them. Let them know you want to be with them, see them and work together. Don’t hide in your cube or behind texts or e-mail. Tell them what you’re working on and thinking about so they feel connected to you both as a leader and as a person. Catch people doing things right. Don’t be stingy with praise. A kind word or a “thank you” go much farther than you can imagine.
Talk with Your People. Nobody wants to work for a robot. People perform for people they like. Be likable. Talk to your people about things they care about; work stuff and personal stuff. Be real. Be candid. Be careful. Set limits. Share selected things about yourself. Be goofy if the situation is appropriate. Notice things like new shoes, cool earrings or a new haircut. Ask about family, pets, weekend plans. Show that you understand that each person has a life beyond work and that you’re interested in as much of that life as they are willing to share.
Offer Context and Perspective. Everybody wants to know how he or she fits in and how their work product contributes to the overall objective. Tell them. Explain the sequence of events, the division of labor, the dependencies and contingencies, the internal politics and all the project management and timeline details. Trust your guys to keep secrets and to be discrete until they prove otherwise.
Visualize those transit maps that read “You are here.” Provide that service for your team. When people understand where they fit and how their work adds up to the total whole, they are happier, more focused and more productive. Most people want to do good and meaningful work. Your job is to show them how their day-to-day routine or reality adds up and contributes to something more, better and bigger. You have the right to goad them on, offer suggestions or corrections and then to offer thanks and praise as projects come to a close.
Help. You are the supervisor because you know what has to be done and how to do it. Share this knowledge and help anyone who needs help. Each individual has different skills and a different attitude. If someone is swamped re-direct some of the workload or jump in yourself. As you parse the work, you also encourage or discourage your players. Be a resource to them. Don’t stand on the sidelines or above the fray. You are a player-coach and if you can do it better, faster, easier or smarter; show your guys what you know or how to it.