— September 13, 2018
I was working today with a woman newly named to a senior-level position. She asked me if I had any tips for her. I said sure. Here are seven things I wish I had known when I was put in a management role:
- Provide an abundance of appreciative feedback
- Provide specific, timely, direct constructive feedback
- Maintain a professional approach
- Know how to manage change
- Delegate effectively
- Make use of consultative decisions
- Avoid skip management
1. Provide lots of appreciative feedback.
Managers should provide copious amounts of appreciative feedback through direct 1:1 expressions of thanks and appreciation. It forms the foundation of trust upon which you can then have successful constructive performance discussions.
2. Provide specific, timely, direct constructive feedback.
Constructive feedback needs to be timely and direct. Make it a coaching conversation, not a threatening one. Say you want the recipient to be successful. State what happened and why it didn’t work. Be clear about the mistake or the problem. Is it behavioral? Is it about work performance? Ask the person how they might have handled it better. If they’re at a loss, provide them specific feedback on how to handle it next time. Tell them that you want to see a change and are happy to help however you can. Then ask: How can I help you avoid this mistake in the future?
3. Maintain a professional approach.
This should be #1, except that it’s so obvious. You need to display integrity in all your actions and maintain a clear professional line. Don’t harass people. Be fair and even-handed. Don’t form close personal friendships with people who report to you. Don’t play favorites. Don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t fire someone because of your close personal ties.
4. Know how to manage change.
There are seven key steps in the process:
- Assess the current state.
- Envision the desirable future.
- Engage people in change.
- Put the plan in writing.
- Align people around the plan.
- Perform according to plan.
- Assess the results, then reassess your position.
Explain clearly why the status quo isn’t acceptable and back it up with facts; communicate a vision; keep championing the change; use key influencers to reinforce the change; engage everyone affected in the process of figuring out how to change; provide enough resources to facilitate collective thinking and communication; maintain focus over time; and use an action plan to coordinate activities and maintain accountability.
5. Delegate effectively.
Only by delegating are you providing people opportunities to grow and learn. Understand the three levels of delegation: A, B and C. An “A” level delegation means I’m delegating to you the responsibility to develop a recommendation or proposal for how to move forward, but I reserve the right to make the final call. A “B” level delegation includes everything in “A” plus I’m delegating you the authority to make the call. However, I expect to be updated regularly and, if circumstances changes, I may change the level of delegation. A “C” level delegation is everything in “B” plus I don’t need to be kept in the loop. It’s routine and I fully trust that you can handle it.
6. Make use of consultative decisions.
Focus on using consultative decisions. There are five types of decisions. The important ones are consultative, consensus, and delegated decisions. (The other two are autocratic – reserved only for simple, trivial decisions – and democratic – reserved for voting). A consultative decision means you’re going to consult with people, but that someone will ultimately make the decision. This can encourage a diversity of perspectives. Focusing on consensus can slow things down – it can force people to agree with each other and suppress their real opinions.
7. Avoid skip management.
Skip management can occur in two directions. Assume I’m your boss and you work for me. If I skip over you and give direction to one of your subordinates, that’s skip management. Or, one of your subordinates can skip you and come directly to me with a suggestion (which I can then encourage). Both types of skip management are bad. They undermine your authority and embarrass you. When it does occur, I should circle back to apologize to you, and then ask you to engage the appropriate levels. The only exception is when an established policy or procedure clearly permits the skip management to occur.
Download the PDF – Providing Effective Feedback
This post was originally published at Leading-Resources.com.