As a manager, you are in a tough spot. At times, it can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, you must understand, support and ensure your team’s share of the organization’s goals are achieved, no matter what. And, on the other hand, you must understand and support your team members to ensure they have what they need (such as information, resources, buy-in from senior management) to achieve the goals that have been assigned to them.

inspire-employeesWhen things are going well – team members are happy and engaged; the organization is hitting its goals, making money – the burden on managers can more easily be carried. However, inevitably, things get bumpy, and managers must be the bearer of “bad news” (such as implementing expense reductions, providing negative feedback, telling senior management a mistake has been made or that a key goal will be missed). It is precisely at these times that managers can make a withdrawal from the bank of goodwill (a rainy day fund, if you will) that was built up during the “good times.” The time spent building and nurturing mutual respect and trust yields short- and long-term benefits. That is why it is critical to do the following three things, every day.

  1. Understand. Everyone has priorities. Organizations do too. It is critical to understand what is important to the people that work with you and what is important to the organization in which you and your team work. This is not stagnant; rather, it is fluid; it can change in a moment’s notice due to internal and/or external factors. Check in often with your people and your senior management to ensure your perception of the priorities matches reality.
  2. Communicate. This goes beyond staff meetings and one-on-one meetings. Effective communication requires an “outside-in” mindset. Anything you communicate will be filtered through a person’s and/or an organization’s priorities. You may be trying to communicate something that is very important; however, if what you’re communicating does not correlate to your audience’s priorities, then you will have a difficult time getting your audience to engage and do what you need them to do.
  3. Connect. Managers are at the crossroads between their teams and senior management. You are an advocate for your team as well as an advocate for the organization. To do both effectively, connect your team’s priorities with the organization’s priorities. Your team members should feel they and their needs are a priority of the organization; likewise, senior management should feel that your team understands and is engaged in the organization’s priorities. Managers are the key link in connecting these two together.

While difficult, being an effective manager can be very rewarding. Both sides will appreciate your hard work, understanding and advocacy, and they will reward you with their respect and trust. I would love to hear about your experiences as a manager and what challenges you have faced and what you found to be effective in overcoming them.

Chris is Principal of Medici Consulting Services, Inc., a branding, marketing and communications consulting business. He has more than 25 years of professional experience, encompassing a diverse range of sectors and markets including government, health care, law, financial services, and energy.

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