Here are some strategies to help you be a more effective manager, whether you're new on the job or a long-timer.
1. Get to know your staff early and let them get to know you.
Building trust is easier when the manager and employee see each other as people, not just workers. Spending a little time to talk about interests, hobbies and life goals in casual conversations can help you better understand your team and build strong connections.
2. You're the manager, not the friend.
Set the right boundaries with employees. When managing an employee who is struggling with issues in their personal life, let them know if it is impacting their work performance and refer them to human resources for support. Then, work with them on a plan to improve their work performance or explore alternate work arrangements within policy to help them succeed.
3. Consistency with (and between) staff members is critical.
Fairness and consistent expectations are invaluable to employees. There are numerous studies that outline the positive impacts associated with maintaining trust and meeting employee expectations, which typically drive employee commitment and engagement.
However, successful managers are able to adapt when the dynamics have changed. In those situations, communicate to your staff, so they understand why a certain exception is being made.
4. Clear goals make it easier to evaluate employee success.
Well-defined employee goals help you as a manager, while also providing your employees with much more focus. It's best to include specific metrics to you and the employee an objectively determine if the goal is being met.
5. Developing goals together improves employee engagement.
Some employees want to collaborate more than others, but all of them appreciate being asked about the process and being allowed to help develop their goals. A more collaborative process removes some of the mystery from goal setting and ensures employees understand not just the goal itself, but the rationale.
6. You don't need to have all the answers.
When faced with a question you can't answer or a problem you're having difficulty solving, ask the employee for their ideas. If you're both stumped, turn to others in the company to find a solution together.