Being promoted to management is a rollercoaster for many people. Obviously, it’s an incredible show of gratitude for the work they’ve done, and a great show of faith in their ability to take on more duties. It comes with the perks of higher pay and authority. Management is also both an incredible responsibility and an incredible privilege. You now have a direct impact on the careers, livelihoods, and in some cases, happiness of the people who report to you. This can be a heavy, scary thought for first-time managers. After all, there’s no definitive “how to manage” manual that comes with the keys to your new office. That said, focusing on the weight of the role will do you no good. Focusing on the opportunity it provides you to help your employees will make all the difference in the world. In the workplace, people need structure, direction, and encouragement. A manager can, should, and must provide these. Not convinced? Here are some additional points to consider.
The Incentive Power of a Benefits Package
First, let’s get the “power over an employee’s livelihood” concept out of the way. Remember that your responsibility to your company in this area is to ensure you’re getting quality work out of your team members. Your responsibility to your team members is to make sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs and are receiving the agreed-upon compensation. Whether your business offers retirement plans, va loans, tuition reimbursement, or other benefits, the tradeoff is simple: employees who do their jobs receive compensation. Employees who don’t have made their own choice to lose them. As manager, you must objectively enforce this while giving opportunities for improvement whenever possible.
Many People Don’t Know Their Strengths Unless They’re Pointed Out
Now, let’s look at the opportunities to encourage positive growth with your employees. Self-help and management guru Dale Carnegie said to “praise the slightest improvement.” Positive encouragement goes a long way, especially if you’re able to identify strengths your employee may not realize they have! The key is a steady (but not overwhelming) stream of informal feedback. Peppering in: “this looks really good, nice job!” or “you know, you really do this well!” or “you’re really getting the hang of this,” or “these just keep getting better and better! Keep it up” will make a huge difference.
The Same is True for Weaknesses
Unfortunately, you may have to confront some areas where the employee needs to improve. The key here, though, is to view it like that: as an opportunity to grow and improve. If they are lacking in a certain area, propose some additional training or mentoring. Ask them if there’s anything holding them back that you can help provide. Couch criticism as a joint effort to get better. Instead of saying “this isn’t good,” say “as we move into the next quarter, I’d really like to see you take this to the next level, and I have some ideas about how to do that. I bet you do too, so let’s talk about how we can get there!”
Understanding Upside Potential Can Lead to Better Retention
Sometimes it’s helpful to spell out what acquiring a new skill can mean for an employee’s career. It can be helpful to relate personal experience as well. You do have to be careful not to make any promises, but occasionally saying, “this is something that not a lot of people at your level can do. Mastering it can help you go a long way,” can be encouraging. As counterintuitive as it may seem, even saying “my goal is to help you be the best you can be at this job so when you move on or move up, I will have served you well” may actually inspire more loyalty and employee retention.
Taking the time as a manager to be a mentor and positive force will earn you respect and get quality performances out of your employees. It’s also a small world, you never know when a former employee can become a potential boss!