Oftentimes managers have colliding and/or competing priorities – but if you are a manager of people, as well as projects and/or programs, you must recognize that not everything required of you for this position is within your control. It will take more than time management, strategic planning and organization to fulfill the role you have been entrusted with. As a manager of people, you will undoubtedly have a diverse team of individuals who have come together (or been brought together) under a variety of circumstances. Their reasons for being on the team and/or your reasons for choosing them will influence how you communicate with them as individuals.
THIS IS GOLD! Finding what makes each of them unique will be important in helping them to reach their full potential and can make your relationship building efforts that much more purposeful. This discovery will go beyond what makes them valuable to the organization… but will extend to what speaks to them; what fulfills them and causes them to want to continue to excel. Even if their current role is not where they want to spend the rest of their career, your knowledge of their intended next steps can help you to prepare them – while meeting and exceeding the needs of the organization. As they each make strides which bring positive and sustainable results to the organization, this insider knowledge will make it easier to identify meaningful ways to acknowledge them; and provide valuable insight for your communication with them when direction, encouragement, guidance, correction and/or redirection are needed.
Though we may know what has brought our team together, we only know what they tell us about what makes them who they are. Every individual has a story; a set of situations and circumstances that has led us to where we are in life, shaped who we are, continuing to inform who we perceive ourselves to be and what we believe about our potential for success. The details of these incidents or accidents or purposeful engagements create a tapestry of working inferences, thoughts and ideologies which frame our worlds. This working knowledge actively influences our emotions, thoughts, intentions and actions in ways that are not always understood by others. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite authors. In the first book of her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, she writes:
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit to the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
We may find that our team members’ stories don’t seem to add up to the actions or attitudes displayed in the workplace. Evidence appears that would suggest that there is more to the story. Although we want to address situations as specifically as possible, it doesn’t mean that we need to get “personal”. Seeking out additional personal information is probably not appropriate – and could potentially backfire as we risk crossing “HR” lines.
The best thing we can do as managers is to continue creating an environment where our team members feel comfortable and safe enough to share the realities of their worlds with us. When that happens, we can make suggestions that will ease the burden so that they are able to manage their personal lives without fear of retaliation in their professional lives. Of course, there are instances in which extreme action is required – but in my experience, that has been the exception and not the rule.
Leading Edge: Managers are extremely important. Keep your team members in the center of your priorities. They are, in large part, why your role exists… and their health is directly tied to overall organizational well-being.