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What No One Told Me … Before I Started Managing People

What No One Told Me … Before I Started Managing People

Did you know that over 90% of managers state that they have never been trained how to manage their direct reports?

Managers are expected to ‘know’ intuitively how to lead, inspire, and have direct conversations with their employees. As an Executive Coach, I often hear managers say, “No one ever showed me how to do this!” or “I am just winging this!” This lack of support and truly lack of knowledge often stunts the growth and leadership influence of a manager and can negatively affect the team.

When I became a manager of 17 employees, I made many mistakes at first. After a very candid and tough conversation with an employee I had to terminate, I received feedback from my team and the ex-employee that I had not communicated clearly about performance and expectations. This hit hard because I thought I had, and I assumed that my team knew what was expected of them when it came to performance. After all, I had to figure it out on my own and promoted quickly because of that. Why couldn’t they do that?

Unlike some roles, which can be studied and prepared for in advance, leading a group of people can best be learned on the job; as well as proactively pursuing knowledge. You will make mistakes. Embrace them and learn from them. Here are three key lessons I learned that I wished someone would have told me about being a manager.

1.     There is power in letting your team members do the thinking. In Kevin Crenshaw’s book, “NeverBoss: Great Leadership by Letting Go”, a leader inspires thinking by asking great questions that invite feeling, thinking, and action. “When people feel, think, and act on their own, they start to become leaders.” This is particularly true when you have to address mistakes. Mr. Crenshaw proposes asking these questions to engage conversation and brainstorming:

  • Tell me more about it…
  • What do you see?
  • Would A or B work better?
  • What is the standard or procedure?
  • What do you think?
  • What do you recommend?

When you engage your team to think for themselves and search for their own answers, there is a higher degree of ownership for solutions as well as follow through. As leaders who desire to be the very best, we tend to take on too much. Your role is to let them shine and succeed. In turn, this reflects positively on you as a leader and key contributor to your organization.

2.     Don’t aim to be liked. Aim to be transformational. Being liked is not the same as being respected by your team. Often managers have a tough time with this one. It requires a certain level of courage and self-awareness.

Transformational managers are models of integrity and fairness, set clear goals, stirs the emotions of people, and inspires people to reach for greatness (based on their terms and the company objectives).

Easy, right?

Not really! However, there are literally thousands of books, podcasts, and digital resources available on becoming a transformational leader.

Some of my favorites are:

Radical Candor – Book written by Kim Scott

Coaching for Leaders – Podcast by Dave Stachowiak

TED Talk: Tribal Leadership – Speaker David Logan

3.     Managers coach, not tell. Coaching your people helps build rapport, supports them through business challenges, develops self-awareness, and finds solutions. It also helps you understand how people think about their work, their careers, and their relationships with the organization. Coaching also helps you to improve a person’s performance and deal with issues before these become problems. This skill takes a lot of time and thought.

Daniel Goleman wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review Leadership that Gets Results, in which he characterized the coaching style of leadership as one that

 “…help[s] employees identify their unique strengths and weaknesses and tie them to their personal and career aspirations. They encourage employees to establish long-term development goals and help them conceptualize a plan for attaining them. They make agreements with their employees about their role and responsibilities in enacting development plans, and they give plentiful instruction and feedback…”

Management can be demanding and consume a lot of time. The best managers embrace challenges and build trust with each employee one day at a time. However, being the kind of manager described above also brings unmatchable rewards: positively impacts the lives of people, grows the business through productive teams, and enriches your career journey and purpose.

Alison Nail-Malone is an Executive Coach, speaker, and corporate leadership consultant; and runs Malone Consultants Group. Get her free leadership article by clicking here.

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If you would like to write for Front Page News at TalkoftheTownNWA.com please let us know…Only requirements are that the article be about people, places, things that matter and are of service to our Northwest Arkansas community!

~Theresa | Connector & All About You Accelerator  | TalkoftheTownNWA.com | 479.633.GROW

 

Five Ways to Cope with Manager Loneliness

Five Ways to Cope with Manager Loneliness | Alison Nail-Malone

Did you notice yourself feeling lonelier once you started managing people or people who were your peers? The price of leadership can feel lonely but is also a universal human response to taking on the responsibility of others and new business objectives.

Think about it. When you first step into a new management role, you’ve drastically multiplied the number of people you need to make happy. The higher you climb up the ladder, the harder you have to focus on proving to your team and clients to be loyal to you and the company. You are judged more severely. Your metrics of success increases. Your words, moods, and actions also have a serious impact on the mental state of your team. And the success of your leadership style typically rests solely influenced by what each team member thinks good management is; and as a leader, you often have fewer work people (or work friends) to “hang” with than you did before.

I bet this may leave you, at times, longing for more simpler times.

Sound familiar?

There is no one right way to avoid these feelings, but throughout my own career and as I coach corporate leaders, I have discovered five effective ways you can dodge the isolation trap.

Accept reality.  Simply acknowledging feelings of loneliness or isolation can be a relief in itself. Constantly denying these emotions in exchange for a false sense of self-assurance is exhausting. Leaders should take a moment each day to process and accept how complex their responsibilities can be. The more accepting a leader is of their reality, the easier it will be to seek and accept support in dealing with it.

Don’t fall into the pitfall of expecting gratitude. This is a common trap for managers who believe they need to go above and beyond in order to help their team through their personal issues. Leaders sometimes get their feelings hurt after overextending themselves for their direct reports, particularly when they receive no gratitude or recognition in return.

Find that one person to offload on. Sounds easy but it is not. Spouses, romantic partners and the like are not exactly whom I am talking about. They have the best intentions; however, they may not always be the most objective. Find a coach, a counselor, a mentor or someone in your trusted network to meet with monthly. They must possess impartiality and practice active listening.

Establish a peer group or a “personal board of advisors”. While this may take some time up front to build, this will make a positive difference. Your personal board of advisors are people who are most likely to understand the pressures that your title (CEO, VP, Director, Sr. Manager, etc.) experiences. They may possess the same titles or titles similar to yours. Spend time with other leaders from different walks of life. Meet with them at least once a quarter if not monthly. Collaboratively discuss the challenges, brainstorm new ideas, and celebrate the wins.

Pick one challenge or low hanging fruit that you can easily accomplish and take action. Being in a leadership role can often be daunting with the day-to-day responsibilities you need to accomplish and supervising a team. Choose one challenge, or a low-hanging opportunity, a month or even quarterly. Managers are tasked with big project and goals. Having a win that can be achieved quickly will help build confidence and strengthen your sense of accomplishment; particularly in those times, you may feel alone as a manager.

Anyone who has stepped into a leadership role knows that the less-than-positive feelings that come with authority are often unexpected. Leaders tend to go to great lengths to maintain a façade of valiant confidence to conceal insecurities. In today’s time of high-stakes business, leaders cannot afford to ignore and not deal with doubts.

Manager loneliness needn’t be a taboo subject. Like related issues of stress and anxiety, being open and proactively dealing with it will lessen the hidden toll it takes. And that will be a good thing for leaders and a good thing for businesses, too.

Author | Consultant | Alison Nail-Malone

Alison Nail-Malone is an Executive Coach, speaker, and corporate leadership consultant; and runs Malone Consultants Group. Get her free leadership article by clicking here.

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If you would like to write for Front Page News at TalkoftheTownNWA.com please let us know…Only requirements are that the article be about people, places and things that matter and are of service to our Northwest Arkansas community!

~Theresa | Spreading Sweet & Salty Love at | TalkoftheTownNWA.com | 479.633.GROW

 

 

Newcomers Guide to Northwest Arkasnas

Appalled, Shocked and Dismayed in Northwest Arkansas

Last year I met a newcomer that is what “she described herself as” a white woman yet of Hispanic decent; when we first met I believe she had been in Northwest Arkansas less than six months – and – she was appalled, horrified, shocked, dismayed, stressed and outraged.  I noticed it on twitter and reached out to her…

If you’re reading this – we (you and I) have more work to do in this community – our – Northwest Arkansas.  There’s a lot to be done regarding Newcomer support in Northwest Arkansas!

Being from San Diego landing here in Northwest Arkansas was culture shock as she described it and as many describe it.  The challenges had to do with overhearing many people speak in a derogatory way about her Hispanic culture – remember – she’s looks white and many spoke freely in her presence , other challenges included big trucks, rebel flags, terrible driving and traffic situations to mention a few.

I chose to spotlight her story at Newcomer Reception – in the raw.  I was and am truly grateful she was willing to be so brave and again really vulnerable in a public venue like our Newcomer Receptions.  Following her brave heartfelt share she handed back the microphone and my only words were…I’m so sorry this has happened to you here and that it has caused you to hurt.  Then I turned to the audience and said, “When we know better – we can do better!”

Later that next week we met for coffee and let me say “being heard” is so incredibly powerful because she seemed softer and I encouraged her to seek and focus on things she loves here.  Today she is a vibrant community leader and a loving, caring, beautiful woman, wife, bonus mom, friend, neighbor and professional – yes she got back to her true foundational core.

Together – we can do more.  I don’t want to come across as NWA fairy Godmother or anything yet – the work we do at TalkoftheTownNWA.com is very important.  Further we need your support to keep going, growing and making a difference.

I was inspired to write this today because yesterday I got off the phone after hearing the shared story of a beautiful black woman that has been here a year and found herself in tears at an offsite work meeting.  She broke down and cried because she hasn’t been able to connect here in Northwest Arkansas.

Look for that article next (link at bottom of page) and learn more about what is possible if the Newcomer just knew we we’re available on such a personal level.  Not everyone needs support – many do great.  If you’re a newcomer and struggling pick up the phone and call us 479.633.GROW (4769) or attend a Newcomer Reception then we’ll have a tea or coffee later.  A sit down visit (smile).

Please share both of these articles so businesses, services and HR departments can better understand the void we fill.  We are able to make a huge difference in this community as connectors, consultants, coaches, mentors and more…  Support, retention and connection is our amazing gift to this community by means of TalkoftheTownNWA.com and the work we do as a service and the individual attention and conversations we are willing to have with Newcomers is powerful in our growing region.

Day before yesterday I called a client who works for a prominent supplier in Northwest Arkansas.  The conversation took a spin about a beautiful black woman struggling to get connected in Northwest Arkansas…click to read full story

With much gratitude,

Theresa | Chief Inspirational Office | TalkoftheTownNWA.com | 479.633.GROW (4769)