Leading and managing does not have to be a complicated or expensive activity. The truism that many of the best things in life are free applies very well to leading and managing people. Below is my list of high impact behaviors often overlooked by leaders.*
- Have a clear onboarding conversation with new hires about what success will look like in the first year. Too often employees (often after about 13 months) are labeled as “not working out” and they often have no idea why. This includes senior executive hires, internal hires and regular external hires.
- Actively employ acknowledgement. Acknowledgement is defined as the action of expressing gratitude or appreciation for something. Good example: Nice job. Better example: Nice job on the project, your work helps set us up for a great next quarter. Exceptional example: You showed great persistence and organization on that project and it sets us up for a great quarter. The better example highlights impact. The exceptional example additionally highlights traits of the person that caused the result. Note some people like their acknowledgement one on one and some people may enjoy more public recognition.
- Tell more stories. Telling stories is a management coaching skill. Use the power of narrative to make a learning point that sticks. A client once shared a story about how making one mistake in a contract review nearly had disastrous impact on the company. His point was that his team needed a better appreciation for details. When I asked if he had shared that story with his team (answered with “no…”), I suggested it would be valuable for them to know it by heart. Make your stories real and your point unambiguous.
- Coach in the moment. Just like the TSA says, if you see something say something. If you see some behavior not in alignment with company values, say something. If you see your team eagerly heading down a path that seems to be off target for the top business priorities, let them know. Don’t save up your observations for the annual review.** The opportunity to learn and improve will be long gone.
*An example of something not free and likely not effective is a team building event that includes building something out of blocks or cardboard.
**also not free and widely perceived as ineffective for development of people