A good manager can make or break a business. It’s typically the managers who hold large organizations together, forming the critical bridge between owners and employees. There are a few practices that all managers should utilize in pursuit of a better and more efficient operation. Here are five of those practices making headlines in the business world today.
1. Institute Software Upgrades
One goal that all companies have in common is increasing efficiency. There are many ways to do this, but one of the more common methods now is automation. Advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning have made an array of business process automation (BPA) software affordable. Analytics software can help make profit projections more accurate. Sales force automation tools facilitate the coordination of remote teams. Sophisticated warehouse management system programs are helping to keep logistics on track in a time of supply chain uncertainty. Consider availing yourself of some of these new automating tools in the new year.
2. Resist the Urge to Micromanage
Many managers are hesitant to delegate responsibility for tasks. Usually, it’s because they think they can do it better or faster themselves. In practice, though, delegating tasks to a team is all but necessary and can really speed up business processes. There’s actually a quantitative rule that can help you know when exactly to delegate. It’s called the “70% rule.” Basically, it means that if someone can do the job at least 70% as the manager, the manager should delegate the task to that person. The task still gets done and the gains in time make up for slightly imperfect execution. It’s also important to remember to take a hands-off approach after delegating. You hired the best for a reason, so let them work the problem. At worst, it makes excellent training!
3. Shift Your Hiring Focus
Speaking of hiring the best, building a winning team starts at onboarding, and that’s where managers can really shine. For decades, hiring has focused on relatively meaningless abstractions: years of experience, a degree from the right school, etc. Now, that focus is shifting. “Soft skills” like versatility, empathy, honor, willpower and reliability are being placed at the forefront because these skills have a bearing on the trainability of the employee and predict their success in being part of a team. Everyone wants to hire “the best,” but try looking outside the box and look for attributes that speak to the general character of the person you’re hiring. The cost saved in employee retention could be enormous.
4. Invest Time and Attention in People
The massive rate of turnover in business now has a moniker: The Great Resignation. Employees quit their jobs these days for many reasons, from wellness to wage stagnation, but a poll from 2019 showed a shocking statistic: 51% of voluntarily exiting workers reported that their manager never talked to them about their future in the three months before they left. 52% said their manager could have done something to prevent the exit. That “something” is communication.
Communicate the vision of the company and give workers objective reasons why it’s something worth investing years of their life in. Communicate your expectations for them and offer constructive feedback not only about what they could do better, but what they already do right. Most importantly, do the hard work of being there to listen.
5. Adopt Sustainable Practices
Although the choice to focus on sustainability ultimately comes from the top, it’s managers who get charged with the follow-through on new protocols. Consumers and potential hires alike respect a company that lives out its vision for a better world. A Fast Company survey in 2019 showed that 40% of millennials have chosen a workplace because of its commitment to sustainability. Managers have the job of providing the tools and support needed to grow that sustainable workplace. Consistent reviews and transparency are vital, as are training and education. As usual, it’s up to managers to turn broad visions into practical realities.
Good managers understand that building their own skillset is the first step in building a successful team. Most importantly, good managers lead by example. Live out these strategies and make your organization the best it can be.