“I didn’t take them on to raise” is a phrase I’ve heard not just once in my professional career. And the retort is, “well, yes you did.”
Crap managers babysit, good managers parent. (And if you’ve had a really rockstar manager, you probably felt like a prize orchid in a champion’s greenhouse).
Sort the following list to see how great (or crappy) your manager is:
- Hounds you for your time submission
- Requires vacation schedules months in advance
- Takes attendance at worthless weekly team meetings
- Requires coversheets on all your reports (with specific font size, margin, and composition length requirements)
- Has never offered inquiry on any of the reports you pour hours into each month
- Takes attendance at 8am
- Monitors your coffee and bathroom breaks
- Offers unrelated advise instead of growthful criticism
- Spends her day at the coffee machine, in management meetings, or at off-site leadership retreats
- Has absolutely no idea what you do
- Finds cuts in your budget year after year (still not knowing what you do)
- Doesn’t remember your name
- Has never been to lunch with you
Ok, so you won’t get a rockstar rating if any of these could get put into a sort of any kind. Shame on you if these are tasks showing on your To-Do list. More than 4 of the above on your list suggests that you have some work to do (less than 4, and you’re probably just a bit uptight). Do you really just want hours logged, or do you want results that make you look better up the chain?
To get – and keep – great people, you need to be willing to give them room to move, to innovate. No one grows up thinking, “I want to be COG number 13752 when I grow up, and atrophy in middle management.” People want to do important work. They want to make a contribution. They want to bring their kids to work and say, “Here is where I make a difference.”
The good news is, you can help. It’s not too late to change your ways:
- Ask your team how you can help them. “Help me help you” is not a bad way to begin your rehabilitation. You will either a) see them pick up the pace knowing they are working toward something, b) know that they have no interest in more than punching the clock and will be with you til death do you part, or c) have a hand in creating the next great leader – in your organization or another.
- Set stretch goals. This of course means that you need to know what people are capable of based on your first hand observations of their work product (you have been observing, right?) Give your people some room to run, and see what they bring back.
- Provide Feedback. This isn’t just per HR’s annual or semi-annual process, but on a regular basis. If not weekly, ever two weeks. Let them know that they are/ aren’t hitting the mark. Recognize that good feedback is like a series of markers by which to steer their career – it helps employees stay on track, and lets them know that you know. You know? Criticism doesn’t have to be negative – when thought through, it helps us grow.
That fat salary isn’t just for babysitting. Demonstrate the leadership and accountability you’re being paid for – motivate your team.
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