How to Become a Rock Star Manager – 7 Steps

managerBeing a “Rock Star” Manager means

  • You achieve steller results through inspiring / leading your team
  • You are respected and appreciated by your superiors and your team
  • Ultimately, You will be on the fast track for promotion and senior management

Becoming a “Rock Star” manager doesn’t happen over night.  It takes time and practice, but it’s worth it.  Based on my experience, here are the seven steps you can take to become a “Rock Star” Manager .

  1. Prioritize people development and not just results – As a manager, you have a lot of pressure to deliver results.  It’s almost instinctive to resort to “The end justifies the means” mentality.  Resist!  You may be able to brute force yourself and your team through one project or two, but it will break down in the long run.  People work for companies for two reasons primarily – because they need the money and because they want to learn something.  If you manage with both the task at hand and their incentives in mind, you will create a more committed team member.
  2. Start caring about your team members as individuals ­– If you have a new team or team members, start with one-on-one coffees early.  This will give you a chance to understand their career / learning aspiration and concerns as well as get to know their personal circumstance if they are willing to share. Your goal is to create an open communication channel early with each of your team members, so each feels comfortable coming to you if there are issues.  If you care about their success, then they will also care about yours.
  3. Set direction and clear expectations up front ­– A team looks to its manager to provide direction and vision for how to accomplish something.  Even if you are insecure on the inside, you need to sound confident to your team.  So take the time to plan out how to accomplish a project.  Choose a direction when several seem plausible.  If you don’t, your team will be in limbo until you do.  Once you do, then communicate clearly what you expect each team members’ roles and responsibilities are. Leave room for them to question and clarify.  This way, you and your team can be on the same page working toward the same goals.
  4. Delegate issues not just tasks – Nothing like a sense of ownership will elevate a person’s commitment.  A team member is not motivated or feel ownership if they are only told to set up meetings or take notes.  These are tasks that implicitly say I don’t trust you to do more.  Try to break the larger issues you need to solve into smaller ones and delegate each of those to your team according to your assessment of their readiness.   This way, each can help you figure out how to solve the smaller issues and feel motivated that they are contributing to the solution.
  5. Micro-manage initially – this may sound counter-intuitive, but it works well when you are managing a new person who just joined your team.  I warn each person I manage that I plan to micro-manager them initially so they are not surprised.  I also communicate the reason I do it is I want to find out as quickly as possible what their capabilities are.  You can never really tell from resume, interviews, or other people’s referrals.  I use the first few weeks to gauge this with a new team member.  I will delegate them something, check in with them often, see if their progress is on track, and also see how they manage me.  The more someone proactively communicate to me before I ask, the sooner I will stop micro-managing them.
  6. Provide constructive feedback often – Giving feedback every 6 months is not enough and giving feedback every day is too much.  I recommend giving feedback every time there is something significant to share – either positive or negative.  If someone did a stellar job on something, tell them why you thought so. If someone seems to be struggling on something and you have more than one examples of it, then maybe it’s time to share it.  Be constructive – you are trying to help them improve not make them feel bad.  Given them the examples of what happened and what could have happened so they know how to improve.
  7. Give support and generous credit ­– sometimes, being a great manager is about stepping back and letting your team go on auto-pilot.  Once you can reach this mode, you are golden.  Then your job is to provide support when a team member brings up an issue and tell you what help they need from you to solve it.   Once the project is done, be generous and give the credit to your team.  You cannot do it without them.

Your comments:  What is your biggest challenge in being a manager?  Which of the above 7 steps is the hardest for you?  Add your comment below and let’s have a discussion

I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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