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The most important thing you need to do (as a manager)

If you are in any type of managerial/leadership role, you obviously have a huge laundry list of things you need to do in the run of a day, week, month and year. There is your job description, your goals and objectives and all that other “stuff” you need to take care of each day. Most of these items are very tangible and have visible outcomes or impacts. Often it is things like completing a project of some sort, rolling out a new piece of technology, delivering a product, etc. As managers and leaders of our departments and people we tend to get laser focused on delivering these tangible results. We get very involved in running around to meetings, scrambling to meet deadlines and pushing people to deliver. In the meantime, all the elements that make up our work environment(s) and lives are (or may be) impacting your team’s ability to deliver for you and the company.

Communication - groupWhat I am getting at it is that we need to be aware that we are not operating in a vacuum. Things like workplace culture, personal lives, the company rumour mill/grapevine, etc. impact our employees’ levels of motivation and engagement. This in turn is going to impact their ability to deliver a quality product or service for you and your customers. What this all means is that you, as the department manager and leader, need to be aware of these factors and understand that above all the other deliverables you have, you have one single, key, important thing that you need to do every day with your staff.

What is that you ask? Let me be perfectly clear, the single most important thing that you need to do as a manager and leader is to COMMUNICATE. You need to be in constant communication with your staff. The degree to which you communicate with your employees influences how well they are going to perform for you and the company. Employees want to hear from their managers and leaders. They want to know what is going on with the company, why certain key decisions are made and they want to know how they can positively impact the company’s results and how they can add value. It is also important for managers to communicate, not only on a group basis, but on a 1:1 basis. You should be constantly communicating with your staff about their performance and gaining an understanding as to what may be impacting their ability to deliver. The more you know about what motivates them, what makes them tick and what obstacles are impeding their success, the better a manager and leader you will be.

The other reason that communicating is the most important thing you need to do is because it builds trust. If you focus on delivering key information to your staff, answering their questions and alleviating their anxiety around work related matters, than you will quickly build trust with them. In turn, employees that trust their manager(s) then reciprocate that communication back to the manager. They will tell you the things that you really need to know. They will tell you what truly is impacting morale. They will give you the straight goods if you have things going on in your department like harassment or bullying that you may not even be aware of – thus giving you an opportunity to address the issue before your friendly HR dept. comes a knocking. Finally, if your staff trusts you, they will want to work WITH you to make the workplace better, more productive and profitable.

Here is the thing; you need to think of communicating with your staff as an investment. It is an investment of your time that will pay off in spades for you. The other crazy thing about communication is that it is FREE! Yes, free, gratis, nada. It costs nothing (other than your time) to communicate with your staff. So the real question is, if you aren’t focusing on communicating with your staff, when are you going to start? Or better yet, why aren’t you focusing on it? Remember, no one like to feel like they are working in a mushroom patch. Employees need information from their manager. They want to know they are not working in some 1970’s sweat shop where each person is an (easily) replaceable part. I strongly encourage you as you grow as a manager and leader to focus on improving your overall level of communication with your staff. It truly is the most important thing you can do and it will pay great dividends for you as a leader. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of Paul Shanks/Flickr.com

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One Response

  1. […] in November, I blogged about what I thought was the most important thing you need to do as a manager in order to be effective. For those of you that didn’t read that post, the theme was one of […]

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