We know as a manager, if our team is ‘all in’ for us and our business or if our team is in and out the door as quick as possible each day. We know if our team members have quit and stayed or are staying with us all the way. What we may not know (or perhaps just not think about routinely) is the absolute impact we have on this. It’s why getting the right people on the bus is not just important but crucial to a manager’s success. If we have the right people, we can invest time unbridling a teams energy rather than untangling conflict and other unnecessary effort that distracts us from the challenges at hand. But once we’ve got the right team, engaging them is our biggest priority — it should be first among equals. And, if we want to make the shift to leading, then how we behave — understanding how we can pragmatically manage to engage and build engagement practices into our day-to-day management practices, can mean the difference between being just a manager or being a #HeadsUp manager and one who leads a legacy.
Leading for Legacy, Improvement & Transformation
So what are the pragmatic solutions we can routinely bring to the way we manage and lead? Here’s are a few practical behaviors #HeadsUp managers bring to life each day:
1. They go #HeadsUp — they are present — they take their noses out of their devices and connect with people, one person at a time. It’s easy to get lost in reporting or analyzing data, and ‘forget’ to look up, get out, and connect with your teams. My experience shows from the hundreds of businesses I have worked with, that those workplaces whose management are actively involved in the business through ‘checking-in’ rather than checking up, through coaching rather than directing, and through linking the micro team vision to the macro company vision, have safer and more productive workplaces because they are more in-sync with the business and their people.
2. They have a management rhythm — 1.5.30 — they check in with their team members once a day — 1 (How’s your day going?), once a week — 5 (How’d your week go? What are you planning next week?) and once a month — 30 (How’s your job going? How can I help you progress?). You know the traditional annual review is the least effective form of connecting with team members so when leaders manage to engage, they build engagement into their routines by routinely checking in with people, enabling performance to be discussed as a day-to-day conversation not a special annual event. (BTW — You can download your 1.5.30 Guide here).
3. They use facts — they use data and discussion. They have management tools that allow for a systematic approach to target setting and reviewing and a people centric approach that allows for people’s points of view, to validate data with their teams. Transparent data isn’t just good for business it’s good for trust and confidence building in teams. It enables people o know exactly how things are performing with no surprises, so teams can act on the data. #HeadsUp managers look at the total ecosystem to see why results are the way they are — they discover where the bright-spots are to celebrate and where the bottlenecks are to address, they then engage with their teams in discussion.
4. They manage exceptions — they work with their teams to manage variances — they seek to understand the root cause between what was planned and what actually was achieved, discussing with their teams what’s happening in the ecosystem, finding out what’s working for or against team success, and then they help their teams address issues outside their control. They also recognize their teams for effort along the way, as well as the effort to achieve great results at the end.
5. They take action — they listen to team members to understand what’s stopping people from performing at their best and then they do something about it, removing the barriers that prevent results from being achieved and are out of their team’s control or ensuring people understand they have autonomy to act on issues within their control. They help other people take action — coaching those on their teams, influencing those outside their teams. While it’s easy to leap from our reports to step in and take action ourselves, the #HeadsUp manager takes a breath and allows their teams to step up and act letting them know they have the safety net of a great coach wrapped around them.
6. They know what color their day is — they know how they spend their time and how valuable that time is. Not all managers recognizes the value of their time, forgetting to really look at how they invest it to get a clear view on the return on that investment. #HeadsUp managers take the time to really review where their effort is going — is it all admin? Orange. Or pink for planning? Green is the color of growth — the time you spend directly connecting with your teams, checking in. If it’s all red you’re in crisis mode far too long. You be the judge. It’s not a competition.
7. They give — they know that giving your time is the greatest gift you can give to others. Time to listen, to understand and time to help others bring their best selves to their work. They give the gift of capability development through coaching, providing people with opportunity; to learn, to develop, to experience, to change. They give the gift of change — paying attention to others, to their feedback, to the needs of the business, and then they do something about it. They turn purpose into plans, vision into verbs, aspiration into action and strategy into schedules. They get stuff done!
#HeadsUp leaders manage to engage. When you manage with engagement in mind you’re much more likely to step up into the shoes of a leader and earn the right to ask people to change their performance, their outcomes, their behavior, to close gaps, to hit that next level of results your business needs, to transform. If we aren’t present, if we aren’t checking in with people routinely, if we don’t let people know how they are performing regularly, if we don’t get in the game ourselves, how can we ask others to up their game? All my research, experience and client work shows that if you want to continuously improve your teams performance, if you want to change your operating results, if you want to really transform your organization, the launch pad is engagement — your ability to manage to engage. That’s what people remember about their managers. That’s what creates a legacy.
Pamela is the author of the new book Manage To Engage and CEO of global consulting firm Proudfoot. She believes businesses can achieve both engagement and productivity — the two are not mutually exclusive and when you bring them together, remarkable results follow. To learn what color your day is or how to use 1.5.30 to create your rhythm, order a copy here.