Good relationships with your employees are one of the most valuable assets that you have as a manager and will help you thrive as a leader. Strong working relationships promote company success, longevity, and can mitigate burnout. These relationships don’t happen overnight; they require maintenance and implementation of new strategies, as well as an attitude of authenticity and vulnerability. Allowing your employees to see your authentic self gives them permission to bring their full selves to the job.
Developing your skills around communication, management, and leadership can help you thrive as a boss and can help your employees thrive along with you. Implementing the five strategies below will demonstrate your commitment to your employees and help create an environment where everyone can reach their potential.
5 Strategies to Help You Grow as a Leader
1. Find a trusted sounding board
The old adage is true: two heads are better than one. Every leader needs to have a trusted sounding board. This could be someone who works for your organization, but it may be even more effective for your sounding board to be someone outside of your company. As leaders, we tend to look at our people and problems from close up, but it’s invaluable to have different perspectives. Someone outside of your organization (or even in a different department) can offer a different vantage point that allows you to consider angles you might not have seen otherwise. This brings additional value and allows you to think through your options.
There is a time-based benefit to having a trusted sounding board as well. Most decisions don’t need to be made at rapid speed, but as leaders we often feel the need to provide quick answers. Consulting with someone else slows down the process and provides time to examine the nuances of a situation. This results in a better reasoned decision that you can explain to your employees with confidence.
2. Give credit where credit is due
Employees want to feel as though their work is contributing to the team. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the task of reporting out deliverables is given to one person: the manager. While this may streamline the presentation, it also takes your employees out of the process. Bringing your whole team into a presentation or including their name on deliverables is a direct way to give your employees credit for their work. Credit goes hand-in-hand with opportunity: the more chances your managers have to see your employees’ names tied to an important project, the better positioned your employees are for promotions, raises, and recognition.
But it’s not just about the money and accolades. Going out of your way to give your employees credit is a strong and relatively easy way to build trust and loyalty. When your employees know that you are willing to give credit and share accomplishments, they will likely be more motivated to provide strong deliverables.
3. Set the tone by managing up
Being a committed and authentic manager is not just about how you manage your employees. The way that you are managed also plays a role in your ability to advocate on behalf of your employees. If you have a manager who is a poor communicator or has a different managerial style, you may benefit from “managing up.” Managing up allows you to model for your supervisor the type of management that helps you thrive.
Perhaps you find it effective to engage with your employees in regular meetings, but your manager is more hands-off. Begin by presenting an example of how a schedule of regular meetings with a certain employee has helped them thrive. Follow up with an action item, such as setting a similar meeting schedule with you and your boss. This provides evidence-based rationale for your manager to implement a new strategy. When you are being managed in a way that plays to your strengths, you will have more bandwidth for leading your employees. It’s a win for your boss as well, because they will benefit from the optics of you doing your job well.
4. Engage with employees 1-on-1
In the opposite direction of managing up, demonstrate commitment to your people through regular 1-on-1 meetings with your employees. These meetings ensure ongoing engagement and give your employees an opportunity to tell you how they like to be managed. It may take some compromise to come to an arrangement that works for both of you, but the effort will demonstrate to your employees that you are willing to meet them on middle ground.
Stay interviews are another crucial way to engage with your employees. These interviews are an opportunity to learn from your current employees why they remain with your organization: what they perceive the benefits and opportunities to be, and what they would like to see done differently. Regular stay interviews are a way to learn from your employees and also demonstrate that you have been listening and making the changes that your employees desire.
5. Support diversity of skills, thought, and experience
It’s likely that your employees have different strengths and different backgrounds. Rather than attempting to fit your employees into a certain style, try embracing those differences. By encouraging your employees to work under the conditions that are best for them, you are encouraging their success and recognizing their differences. Committing to seeing your employees as unique individuals with different skills will allow them to flourish. This commitment can be demonstrated through offering different work setups (virtual, hybrid) or seeking input from certain employees who have additional expertise in a different field, just to name a few. Take a look at your team’s strengths and abilities and get creative!
Bonus Strategy: Get help when you need it
These are not one-time, quick fixes. Each of these requires an ongoing effort to practice. But mastering these skills can create an incredible impact within your organization. Thriving as a leader means recognizing and embracing your employees as individuals and giving them opportunities to be recognized. Achieving this dynamic requires work, but the payoff can be exponential.
No one said change was simple. If being a great leader was easy, everyone would be one. If you want some help developing any of these skills in you or your team, reach out to Flynn Barrett Consulting. We are excited to help!