What makes a memorable manager?


A manager currently in overwhelm or one who is micromanaging their team can change.
Image source: Getty Images

You are the HR expert responsible for the ongoing learning and development of the staff in your organisation. You know about the managers promoted to their roles due to their technical excellence.

These managers are put into leadership roles because people more senior notice their exceptional technical abilities and want to reward them for their outstanding work. Or want to leverage this individual’s talent in other areas of the organisation, so give them a team to manage.

However, you know that the skills that got them into their new role are not the skills this new manager needs to lead well.

These technical experts, when promoted to lead a team, often experience doubt in their management abilities. They find the ‘people stuff’ more challenging than they expected.

If they continue as they are, these managers are at risk of staying perfectionists, which means they become control freaks who micromanage their team.

You likely see these new managers struggle and then watch the team quietly (or loudly) start to implode.

You may observe the following with the manager and their team:

  • Missed deadlines
  • Conflict in meetings (and people turning up late to meetings)
  • Poor use of resources
  • Higher levels of sick leave
  • Higher turnover of staff
  • People are confused about who is doing what
  • Mediocre work by the team – which means this manager’s boss is becoming involved

These managers find they attend more meetings, start work earlier, finish later, and then work again after the family is asleep.

They are stuck in a vicious cycle of reacting, redoing, and responding.

In contrast – memorable managers:

  • Have the leadership skills to support each team member to perform at their best
  • Encourages more buy-in from the team
  • Has firm conviction in their capability, where self-doubt and overwhelm diminish
  • Build powerful connections with their team so that the typical siloed approach disappears as they become aligned
  • Work with their team and create certainty about what they are there to do and get on and do it.

Three critical skills demonstrated by memorable managers are:

  1. Effective delegation skills.
  2. Coaching skills
  3. The ability to have difficult conversations
  1. Delegation Skills

Delegating the right way increases productivity, team engagement and collaboration, and the team can take on extra responsibility. Effective delegation creates more time for the manager.

Memorable managers develop a delegation framework and don’t leave it to chance (or not done at all). Good delegation means the completed work meets expectations.

The delegation framework starts by knowing the work to be done by the manager and their team. What is it, what is the priority, when is it due, and who should be doing it?

  • Coaching Skills

Memorable managers have ongoing coaching conversations with their teams. A coaching conversation means the manager is comfortable asking open questions for which they (and their team member) may not have the answer and is willing to explore the answer through conversation.

Too often, managers immediately try to solve someone’s problem by giving advice.

People become capable faster when they think of a solution rather than relying on someone to provide them with an answer.

  • Being able and willing to have difficult conversations

    I’ve often seen managers avoid having difficult conversations with underperformers. Team morale drops when there is perceived tolerance for poor performance.

    New managers often inherit personnel issues from previous managers who feared rocking the boat and couldn’t/wouldn’t have these difficult conversations.

Using a feedback structure to guide the conversation makes these challenging conversations more manageable.

A manager can develop these three skills. A manager currently in overwhelm or one who is micromanaging their team can change. Given the opportunity to excel, team performance will lift.

If you were to consider the capability of your new and emerging managers – on a scale between 1 – 10, with one being inept and ten being transformational, where would you put them? And where would you like them to be?

Identify the skills and behaviours your managers need to lead at the level appropriate for their pay grade – and achieve success with more clarity and less overwhelm.

Maree Burgess is a trainer, coach, facilitator, author and public speaker. Find out more at www.mareeburgess.com