The 12-step process to improve your people management skills

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People are not easy to quantify and control. We all have our own hopes and dreams, as well as our own opinions and weaknesses. We are imperfect, but we are also driven, strong and powerful.

As a manager, it is not easy to manage a group of people. Humans are tough, and when you’re the leader, it’s hard not to pray for a magic wand that could help bring your team into line. You want to lead, but sometimes it can seem like your team isn’t listening. Sometimes it feels like you’re not doing a great job.

Fortunately, you can always improve the way you handle people. If you use our 12-step process, you’ll be well on your way to creating a motivated team as powerful and strong as you are.

Here is the process:

Step 1. Describe your goals

As a manager, you surely have reasons to want to improve. Maybe you’re responsible for big business goals that you need your team’s help with, or maybe you feel like your leadership strategies aren’t ineffective, your reports aren’t helping you. don’t like or respect you. You may think you’re a very good manager, but it’s part of your job to continually work to improve yourself.

Whatever your story, outline your goals and write them down. A famous study conducted by Harvard Business School in 1979 found that those who wrote down their goals were much more likely to earn higher salaries and experience greater career success.

Step 2. Determine where you want to improve

We are all different, and your weak points will be different from mine. Once you have set your goals, you need to determine areas for improvement. How to do this ? Consider taking a variety of professional assessments and personality tests to gauge where you stand.

Step 3. Talk to your team

Your team has a wealth of information about you as a leader, information that can help you improve. Looping through your team chasing you will help them help you.

  • Tell your team that you are working to improve your leadership skills.
  • Send a survey, allowing your team members to remain anonymous. Ask employees how you are doing as a manager, where you could improve, what they like and dislike about your style.
  • Set up one-on-one meetings with your direct reports and clearly ask them how you could be a better manager.

Step 4. Get Organized

One of the reasons leaders are ineffective is because they are everywhere. They don’t have the right software solutions, they’re unsure of their goals, and they struggle to resolve conflicts. The organization can help.

At the start of each month or quarter, outline areas that are disorganized and confusing, and strategize on ways to improve them. Maybe you need a software solution to help organize your calendar, or maybe you need a new meeting calendar with your reports.

Step 5. Take a leadership course

Sometimes it’s hard to improve on your own. Classes can help. Check with your local colleges and universities to see if they offer leadership courses. There are also tons of online courses that you can take at your own pace.

Dale Carnegie Training offers affordable leadership courses in decision making, critical thinking, how to agreeably disagree, and how to effectively lead change. Udemy also offers a wide range of online courses – we particularly like their Habits of Highly Effective Leaders course.

Step 6. Read management books

Every day you face the same problems and your mindset is unlikely to change. Books take you outside of yourself and allow you to look at your situation from new angles.

There are tons of great business management books worth reading, but here are a few favorites to get you started on the right foot:

Step 7. Learn to listen

One of the biggest complaints from employees everywhere is that they don’t feel heard. They don’t feel empowered to voice their opinion or bring about positive change in the organization. When they speak, they feel ignored, which makes them unhappy and unmotivated.

According to Udemy, there are five aspects of good listening– receive, understand, remember, evaluate and respond. You must be able to understand these five steps to listen to your employees.

Step 8. Practice praising and rewarding

To be a good leader, you need to give your employees feedback, especially praise and rewards. When praising an employee, be specific.

Instead of saying “you’re doing a great job”, highlight a specific project and explain why their help was so important, try “the project for client ABC was very challenging, but the way you communicated his needs to any the team is what allowed us to do things well. I was really impressed with that. Good work.”

In a Harvard Business Review survey on employee engagement, 72% of respondents said recognizing top performers had a big impact on engagement.

Step 9. Find a mentor or coach

It can be difficult to accurately assess your own leadership skills. That’s why many turn to executive coaches, mentors, and others they can trust. Maybe you already have a mentor, or maybe there’s someone you can turn to for an honest assessment of your skills.

Executive coaches are also a great option. Those who specialize in leadership can work with you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, then help you put a plan in place to achieve your goals. Harvard Business Review suggests executive coaches and provides great insight into how to find the right one for you and your organization.

Step 10. Learn to communicate effectively with anyone

Effective communication is one of the most important parts of leadership, but as human beings we are different and we respond to different styles. Occupational psychologists have defined four communication styles that we all fall into. By reading and understanding these four styles, you will be better able to communicate with those you work with.

  • Thinkers – Thinkers need time to process and reflect before responding. They work slowly, deliberately and want to make sure everything is fine.
  • Socializers – Socializers thrive on talking with others and gaining energy from co-workers. Socializers work fast, have good ideas, and process information very quickly.
  • Directors – Admins are known for getting things done quickly and efficiently. They process things quickly, make quick decisions, and love research and proven facts.
  • Relative – Relationships is relationship-oriented and enjoys working with others. Unlike the socializer, they move at a slower, calmer pace.

Step 11. Be more transparent

Companies are beginning to embrace transparency in the workplace. As a leader, you must embrace it with your staff.

Today, about 25% of employers don’t trust their employer, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association Survey. This is bad news. Employees who don’t trust their company or their boss are unlikely to put themselves on the line for their company. But it can be fixed! Harvard Business Review found that 70% of people are more engaged if senior management informs them of what is happening in the company as a whole.

As a leader, you’re in a great position – you can be transparent with employees and let them know what’s going on. In turn, they will be more engaged and see you as a better leader.

Step 12. Create a Feedback System

It’s great that you’ve invested so much in becoming a better leader, but you need to continually consult with your staff to find out how you’re doing.

How to do this ? Set up a feedback system, so that your employees always feel like they can speak up in the event of a problem. For example, many companies offer performance reviews on a quarterly basis, but these reviews should also allow employees to make suggestions to their managers.

12 steps to leadership success

Managing people isn’t easy, which is why many leaders spend a lot of time investing in their skills. If you complete the 12 steps, you are sure to improve your people management skills. In doing so, you will become the kind of leader you want to be – the one who inspires, ignites and builds your team.


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