Managers have a great deal of responsibility in the workplace. They’re essentially teachers. Most managers have worked their way up from entry level, know the ins and outs of their industry, and are ready to start training new people. As teachers, they are expected to have great interpersonal skills so that they can easily communicate with members of their team. They also must be comfortable exercising authority when necessary while still respecting employees.
The job of a manager involves a lot of outward focus. It’s teaching, listening, problem-solving, and focusing on the team. When all of this outward focus isn’t balanced with some inward focus as well, managers can easily get off course. The job can start to feel overwhelming, the work culture can start to deteriorate, and the team can suffer from a lack of direction and support. In order to avoid this sort of downward spiral, managers should intentionally balance their outward effort with self-awareness and reflection. Read on for a few tips to achieve that balance.
Become more self-aware
When taking on management responsibilities, don’t neglect an awareness of yourself — your shortcomings and strengths, your work habits, the way you relate to your team members. Ask yourself questions to help you reflect. Do you act as a doormat, even when authority is necessary? Or, do you become too authoritative, micro-managing every small step that employees take? What are your strengths? Perhaps your strength lies in your ability to communicate clearly with employees. Once you’ve identified where you excel, you can better use those skills to your advantage. Similarly, after pinpointing your weaknesses, you can notice when they’re interfering with your managing and begin to work on improving. Self-awareness also deters you from falling into old subconscious routines. It can help you be more accepting of new ideas and ways of doing things, instead of getting stuck in rigid patterns.
Self-care is important for all professionals, especially managers. You need to take care of yourself first if you expect to give anything back to others. Try to nurture yourself both in and out of the workplace. If your stress levels are through the roof, personal problems are piling up, and you’re not feeling happy in the office, this will take a major toll on your team. Take the time to stay healthy, whether that’s getting exercise, meditating, or even meeting friends for coffee. When you put yourself first, you’re doing everyone on your team a favor, and you increase your odds of coming into work at your best.
As a manager, you have to understand that just like your employees, you don’t always know everything and you will make mistakes. While as a manager it’s easy to be consumed by the teaching and directing role, don’t let that keep you from learning. A little humility goes a long way. Often we can gain innovative ideas or helpful feedback from the people we work with. The more time you can give yourself to reflect on how to engage with your team in a mutually beneficial way, the better the relationships will be all around.
Remember where you started
When you remember what it was like to start a new job, to learn as you go, to close your first large deal, to lose a promising client, and to work your way up, you’ll have a much easier time relating to your team members. You’ll find that you have more patience with newer LOs, you’ll problem-solve more effectively, you’ll be a better support, and you’ll be able to spot employee’s’ strengths and weaknesses. By recalling your own path, you’ll gain a wealth of valuable insight.
All managers should remember the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. If all your efforts are directed outwards, eventually you’ll have nothing left to give your team. By looking inward, identifying your own strengths and weaknesses, taking care of your physical and mental health, staying open to learning from your team, and remembering the experiences that got you to where you are now, you will set yourself up to be a great manager.