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10 Easy (no/low cost) New Year’s Resolutions for Managers

As we approach the time of year where we start to reflect on the past and give thought to the New Year, many of us start to make our New Year’s resolutions. Realistically, in our personal lives, how many of us actually make resolutions we know we can keep and actually achieve? I am certainly in no position to offer advice on personal resolutions, but what I am proposing is a list of (business) New Year’s resolutions for managers. This is a list of simple, mostly low cost/no cost resolutions for managers to help get their New Year off to a great start and sustain the momentum throughout the entire year. As a manager, you may not need to resolve to do all of these things, in fact, you may do many of them now, but even if there is one thing off the list you resolve to do, than you are already in good shape to kick off 2013!

2013 graphic1. Say “Good Morning” to your staff – in fact, say good morning to people who aren’t your staff! There is nothing worse than a manager arriving to work and making a beeline straight for their office without greeting anyone. Nothing says, “leave me alone” quite like this approach.

2. Keep your door open – when not on conference calls or meeting with someone else, keep your door open. The subtlety of this is not lost on employees – believe me. There is nothing worse than a manager who professes to have an open door policy and then, quite literally, their door is NEVER open!

3. Keep your commitments – there are very few things that drive employees ‘crazy more than when they are supposed to have a meeting with you and you are still on another call or in another meeting, etc. Worse yet, is when you allow one employee’s meeting time to impede on another’s meeting time. You should simply inform the first employee that you have committed to another scheduled meeting but you are happy to resume the conversation at a later date/time. This shows both employees that their time is important to you but it is also shows them that you honour your (time) commitments.

4. Say “Thank you” more often – this is the purest form of non-monetary recognition and it costs NOTHING! A sincere thank you for your employee’s efforts, results, etc. goes a long way. Your employees just want to know that YOU know that they exist and are important. A little thanks is very much appreciated by them – especially when it isn’t just given during the holiday season or at performance review time.

5. Let them knock off early – nothing surprises an employee more, or is more appreciated, than a manager taking the initiative to come to an employee early on Friday afternoon, before a long weekend, or before their vacation starts and telling them to go home early. For this to work, the manager needs to make sure the employee’s workload/schedule is clear or can be deferred to another day. Simply go up to the employee at 1pm and tell them that you want them out of here in 1 hr. or less because you want them to get a head start on vacation, etc.

6. Remember their birthday and work anniversary – not necessarily with cards, presents and announcements, but a simple verbal recognition of their birthday or work anniversary means a lot. Your employee feels valued, acknowledged and appreciated. I have witnessed firsthand the effect of a manager coming in one day and thanking an employee for their past 3 years of service. The employee was blown away and couldn’t believe that the manager was that invested in them.

7. Provide impromptu break time– nothing breaks up the monotony of a workday Wednesday in the middle of February like a manager “sponsored” break. Bring in a box of donuts or some other treat for staff. Encourage a 10 mins coffee/donut break as a team for no reason other than to talk (read – team build). It isn’t to “reward” them for something; it is just to show that you care as a manager.

8. Walk around more – no, not outside on your lunch (although that might quality as a personal resolution!) I am talking about walking around your office floor, production shop, etc. Meaning, take the time to walk around at various times and see what is going on with your employees. Chat them up about their work, work challenges/successes, etc. You will be amazed how much respect you gain by doing this and how much your employees are willing to share when this becomes part of your daily/weekly routine.

9. Remember the details – about your employees’ personal lives. I am not suggesting you need to know every little detail, especially if you have a staff of 50; however, remembering little things like spouses names (or even that they have a spouse), children’s names (or even that they have children), life events (1st day of school, graduations, etc.) or personal achievements (obtained their black belt in karate) shows that you are invested in your employees and they are integral to the team. It shows that you don’t view them as an employee number, or another performance review you have to do. They have a face, a name and a LIFE.

10. Be a LEADER not just a manager – by resolving to do things differently (i.e. follow these resolutions), leading by example, focusing on engaging your employees and accomplishing work successes through your people you are on your way to becoming a better leader. By working with your people and through your people you are becoming a true leader. Managers direct people in order to achieve daily/weekly/monthly outcomes. Leaders focus on engaging their people in the bigger picture/greater cause. They provide a vision and show their employees how they contribute to the organization as a whole. Leaders are sincere individuals who build trust and rapport with employees and effectively engage them in their work efforts.

So what do you think?  None of these are too challenging……right!?  Is there a way that you can incorporate at least one thing on this list into your management practice?  I believe that you will find that once you make one of these resolutions a “habit”, it then becomes part of your managerial DNA. To that extent, I wish you all the best for the holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

Image courtesy of sdmania/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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