Managers often get promoted for seniority or because they were a top producer, so it makes sense that so many managers forget some of the most important parts of managing other people. Even though I always kept a running of things in my head of how I would manage a team, it wasn’t until it became my responsibility to manage a team and a whole host of resources later, I realized that even I had missed some key points. The list of responsibilities a manager has is a very long one, but here are a three that I see overlooked most often.
Resource Guarding is a term used in dog behavior/training that refers to a dog being too protective of food, toys, etc. but managers do this all the time, even though it can be completely unintentional and is hopefully not as primal. We all want employees to show initiative, but when they aren’t given direct access to the company’s resources it can be an unnecessary hurdle that lowers incentive to branch out. There are several ways to create shared documentation that employees can reference but the worst place for managers to keep that information is in their head. It can be very cumbersome to put these types of things together, but ultimately it’s going to be a waste of time if employees need to connect with the manager over every little thing. And if an employee is interested in learning beyond their role, they will have to hope their manager has time to share that information with them.
Information isn’t the only kind of resource employees need. Contacts in the company are important too. A manager doesn’t need to introduce each employee to everyone in the company, but HR and payroll are definite priorities. Other worthwhile connections are departments that directly interact with the employee’s. Offering initial and recurring opportunities for employees to talk and get to know one another is a great way for them to learn without worrying about sucking their manager dry of their limited time.
It’s very easy for managers to ignore employees that are doing well. They think the employee is doing a great job, or even just average, and that’s good enough, so they don’t feel the need to provide feedback good or bad. It’s important to show employees that someone is paying attention to the work they are doing. Employees should be reminded regularly that they are valued, especially when they are going above and beyond. It can be time-consuming to do so, but appreciation for the work goes a long way, especially if they aren’t receiving feedback from customers or clients. Giving critical feedback can be tough, but it’s the most important factor for seeing employee growth. Almost every employee is interested in growing in their career, and if they don’t feel like that’s being fostered within their company, they are more likely to look elsewhere.
Free food or ping pong tables are great perks that can make a workplace more fun, but the best motivation comes from understanding employees needs and career goals. There are many ways to have this conversation, but I think broaching it during one-on-one reviews or feedback sessions is a great time to talk employees about their future. Larger companies can use this as a chance to find opportunities within the company, though smaller companies may need to be honest about whether or not they can fulfill their employee’s long-term goals. Even if an employee is ultimately working toward another type of role, there is a good chance there are things they can do in their current role that will help them build the skills and/or experience to meet that goal. I know the idea of training employees for their next job sounds like a bad job, but an employee that is checked out and just collecting a paycheck is going to be harder to manage over time.
It’s easy enough to say that employees should motivate their own career growth, but even the most motivated employees can be put off by some of these challenges. While initiative is a great trait to look for in an employee, managers could be missing out some really great talent in relying so much on it.