Last year was a challenge for everyone. The beginning of this year will be more of the same. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, you have two options. You can return to work and pick up where you left off, or you can view it as an opportunity to do things differently. You can take advantage of the situation by doing these five things to become a great manager in 2021!
Now is the Time
When things change, when there are challenges or chaos, new opportunities arise. For many of us, when this happens our tendency is to look for stability. To move back into our comfort zone. I believe you should do just the opposite. Embrace the change that is taking place and the chaos that it is creating.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”Socrates
As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and go back to a new normal at work, things will be a bit chaotic. Some companies have grown and other companies have struggled. In many cases, employees have found a way to work from home. As managers – you have done your best to keep things moving, ensure your team is engaged and motivated and worked to deliver on your plans and commitments.
All of this is about to change. How and where employees work will evolve to a new mixed model. Companies will reevaluate every aspect of their business. Some products and services that existed previously will go away, while others will be created. There will be an incredible amount of churn and chaos.
Most managers will see their job as dealing with all of this. A few, and I think that should be you, will view it differently – as an opportunity.
Five Things to Become a Great Manager
1. Elevate Your Team
As a manager, you know how important it is to have a great team. Make this year the one when you elevate the trust that you have in them. Support and empower them. Set them up for success and delegate. This will free you up to do the things described below.
2. Take Initiative
Look for opportunities and go after them. Don’t wait for them to come to you. I always get the question – how do I find these opportunities?
Here are a handful of ways that I have found that are easy, natural, and will lead to opportunities that are available to you.
- Check-in with your peers, and ask what is happening in their area. Spend time understanding the problems that they are facing.
- Note that problems are not always bad. A problem might have been created due to something going really well, such as hiring challenges to deliver on an approved project.
- Talk to your boss as well as other leaders that you know. Ask them how the organization and company are doing, the challenges they see, how the various products are doing well, and so on.
- Listen carefully during all-hands meetings, earnings calls, and other forums where leaders are talking about how the company is doing.
These will help you to understand where there are opportunities that you might pursue.
The other question that I get is – how do I get these opportunities?
I will oversimplify my answer, but it is almost this easy. Ask if they need help. Don’t go in and ask for a job. Show that you are interested and willing. This will most likely open up more conversations about what is needed. Be proactive in pursuing this as the people you talk to will likely be busy dealing with whatever the challenge or problem is.
3. Be Decisive
If it is not already obvious, what you are doing is making time for other things. You are elevating your team and delegating to them. The next step is to be decisive. Collect the required information and make the call.
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”Voltaire
I prefer to think about this almost like the 80/20 rule. You only need 20% of the information to make an 80% decision. And if you are wrong, adjust. This is far better than spending a lot more time and improving the accuracy of your decision only slightly!
To be a good manager, you need to build a strong team, align to a vision and mission, and deliver.
To be a great manager, you have to do more. Most importantly, you need to innovate. This does not mean inventing something completely new, although that would be nice as well. It means finding innovative ways to do things. Demonstrate that you are not stuck in a rut, but think more broadly. Make this a part of how you manage your team. Look for innovative ideas and support them. Communicate and reward this kind of thinking.
5. Deliver Value
As you are doing all of this, make sure that you are delivering value. Share progress. Recognize and reward your team as they execute and deliver value to your customers, whether they are internal or external.
All of this sounds a bit daunting. Here is how you get started.
- Do the first thing first – elevate your team. This will give you extra time.
- Next is to change your interactions. Talk to others about different things. Specifically, ask about the problems and challenges that they are facing.
- And finally, evolve your focus. Take initiative, be decisive, spend time on innovation, and look for opportunities to help.
As you do all of this, don’t forget to deliver value.
We are coming out of a very challenging year. We are not through it, but the end is in sight.
You can go back to doing what you were before or you can take advantage of the opportunity and elevate your game. To do this, there are five things that you need to do.
- Elevate Your Team
- Take Initiative
- Be Decisive
- Deliver Value
Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!