1. Ask their opinion
But only do this if you actually care. And do not shut down their ideas with laughter or bad body language. You may say “great idea” but your body language or laughter, says something different.
2. Take their advice
The next best thing to soliciting advice? Actually taking it. Having your Manager listen to you and then actually act on that advice is pretty cool. Don’t be the manager that lost an employee who felt their hard work and advice weren’t appreciated.
At some point in your management career, someone will tell you something about their personal life that surprises you. It may be a positive life event or they may share a difficult situation they are going through. These are tough situations because you aren’t their friend but you are someone important in their life.
My first response is to show empathy and listen. You can’t solve their problems but in your role as their manager, you can make their life easier. And of course, be discreet! Unless it’s something you must report (harassment, unethical behavior, performance issues, etc.) don’t say a word!
4. Set Clear Expectations & Boundaries
If you expect your people to respond to emails on weekends, let them know that. If you don’t, let them know that. Its always best to be clear and direct about your expectations.
5. Know what you are talking about and acknowledge when you don’t
When you act like you know something that you clearly do not, you just look stupid. If you have no clue, ask more questions.
6. Don’t treat your employees like children
The people that report to you are not children and they are definitely not your children. So stop treating them like that. You don’t need to question if they should really be eating that Milky Way, leave it alone, its not your problem!
7. Don’t freak over every minute of their day
Unless you are in a production environment, its okay if Susie takes a couple coffee breaks a day. The fate of the universe will not be changed because your employee takes a couple 15 minute breaks. BUT a good manager knows when those “coffee breaks” are turning into much bigger issues.
8. Advocate for their development
Most people want to improve themselves, when your manager supports this and advocates for it, you get happy people and loyal people.
9. Be honest
If you don’t know the answer just say that. If you aren’t sure just say that. Being honest shows your team that, like everyone else, you don’t have all the answers.
10. Clear The Road. Remove The Obstacles. Have Their Back.
You can’t (and shouldn’t) do their job but you can make it easier. Advocate for their resource needs and put up as few roadblocks as possible. And when toes are stepped on, have their back.
These seem like pretty simple ideas but the simplicity hides the complexity: many of these (especially numbers 5 and 9) require vulnerability on your part. Others, (numbers 8 and 10) may require some uncomfortable conversations on your part.
You can attend seminars and webinars all day but the simple fact is that people want leaders who care about them, help them, develop them and defend them. Following these gets you on the path to being a good manager.
What else would you add?
This post originally appeared on Performance I Create in August of 2012 and has been edited.
You Win With People