But it feels like I'm wasting my time...

13 november 2018

I have the privilege of working with a lot of 'new' managers. People who start in their first management role. Smart, eager to learn, motivated. Last week, one of them told me: 'It's not that I don't want to talk to my team, but it takes so much time, and I need to do the real work as well.' 


Most managers struggle with this (not only the 'new' ones). They started out as an expert in their own domain: as an engineer, a sales person, a customer service agent. And they were very successful at it. That's why they became a manager in the first place. And that, for them, is still the 'real' work. And to some degree, of course it is.


But being a manager is not just being the best sales person, or the smartest engineer.


When you become a manager, taking care of your team is your job.

Knowing the people in your team is your job. 

Having casual conversations is your job.

As a manager, these tasks are just as important, if not more, than selling, designing, dealing with customers.

So you have to make time for them.


You're not an island. 


I understand the need to get things done, yourself. It's fun, it's fast, and it gets you results. 

But unless you want to work day and night, you need to start spending more time with your team.

Delegate, develop & support them.

And spend time on the seemingly trivial things like casual conversations.


Now that doesn't mean you have to be friends with everyone, or that you have to like everyone.

But there are 3 things your team needs from you:

  1. Know: you need to know who the people in your team are. What matters to them. What puts them into action. What keeps them motivated. What makes them feel safe. Or unsafe. And you need to allow them to get to know you as well. It's a two-way street. If you (or the other person) feel uncomfortable talking about your family, your home life, that's OK. You don't need to know any of that, to be able to get to know, relate to and trust the other person, though (for some) it might help. 

  2. Relate: in marketing, the second step of this formula is called 'like'. In a team, you don't always have the luxury to only work with people you like. But the better you get to know them, the easier it becomes to find elements that you can relate to. When people can relate to you, you become human.  

  3. Trust: people need to trust that you have the best intentions, for them and for the company. They will only be able to do that when they feel that they know who you are, and they can relate to you. If people don't actively trust you, they will try to avoid you. They will go to someone else with their concerns, they won't put in the extra effort, they will disengage and possibly leave the company.


To be successful as a manager, you need to build that place of mutual trust.

To build that trust, you need to get to know them, allow them to get to know you. 

This means that you have to have those conversations. They are the basis.


So make time for them - they ARE the real work.



#conversations #realpeoplemanagement #talkingworksmiracles

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