Many qualities are needed for a manager to create a functioning, motivated and satisfied team. We have to keep the team motivated, the morale high, and goals clear, but what’s the one thing that is most important for achieving all of this?
There are several things that distinguish mediocre managers from good ones, but the most important one is the ability to communicate. Times when we considered only skills and experience in finding a good manager should be over. We should put a lot of effort into finding a person who is open, positive, inspiring, and excellent at communicating.
We obviously acknowledge that communication is about the way we speak to each other, but a common mistake for managers to make is the inability to listen. Leaders often know how to ask questions, delegate responsibilities, share information, but when it comes to listening to others for their ideas and opinions - not so much. You, as a manager, don’t have to know how to be a psychologist, give the right advice, or help them make personal decisions. All you have to do is to be there, listen, consider and be empathic.
So here are a few questions to ask yourself from time to time:
- Are your 1-on-1 meetings a one-man show, or is it really a conversation for two?
It’s called a one-on-one for a reason, so it’s all about collaboration between two people. A good way to try that out is to give other persons a chance to pick topics or questions, and basically organize the 1-on-1 by themselves. It’s a nice change, and gives communication another perspective, gives the manager also a possibility to open up, and really just helps to maintain equality.
- When was the last time you really learned something new about your employees?
Learn their superpowers by getting to know their characters little by little. We tend to forget that small details create the bigger picture, so someone’s favorite food, movie, book or a place to go isn’t just a boring fact. It says a lot about people, and if you realize that, you’re half way there.
- When you have collective meetings, then are you the one talking, or everyone can chip in their ideas and opinions?
It’s important to build an environment where they feel safe to express their point of views. If they give you constructive criticism, or doubt some of your ideas, then the worst thing to do would be putting them down for it. To be honest, it would be the key to make sure they will never open up and share their point of views with you. Managers often forget that to be able to make the smartest decisions, you need different viewpoints. Listen to what they have to say, filter out the most useful feedback, and voilà!
- How often do you open up to others, share your experiences, fears, and thoughts?
Everything starts from you. If they don’t answer your questions, and don’t open up, then the person you should look at is standing in the mirror. In many cases, managers struggle with not being able to get their team members to share honest feedback, but when asked how much they share about their own, a long pause of thinking follows. When you ask a question in 1-on-1, try answering it first. It’s a good start, and will break some barriers, especially with coworkers who are introverted. It’s a two-way street.
We might think that the communication is there, and works fine, when there aren’t signs that show us the opposite, but questions above will help you really acknowledge if things are the way they’re supposed to. And don’t forget: people giving you (negative) feedback is always better than being blindsided by their silence. If you agree, but really don’t know what kind of questions to ask them, or how to make sure you’ll remember the most important facts about them, then Remoco’s question bank, and 1-on-1 notes will always help you out.