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Managers are the lifeblood of an organization. They sit between leadership and client-facing employees directing the tactical implementation of strategic initiatives.

Externally, managers are close enough to clients to have direct insight into their level of satisfaction. Internally, managers’ daily interactions with staff inspire, drive productivity and shape career trajectories.

It’s no surprise that the activities of managers directly affect employee retention and talent acquisition.

With a great deal of focus on staff retention and talent acquisition, most conversations about managing begin with how to manage staff more effectively. Before those conversations happen, it’s a good idea to better understand how you act and how you’re perceived by those you manage. Today’s post offers a brief, easy-to-use device to help you see what others see.


How I Show Up to Others

As a manager, your behavior and actions set the tone for your group. You are the role model; others in your group will mirror your behavioral patterns.

Building trust and a strong bond comes from keeping the promises you’ve made to your group and exhibiting behavior that’s inclusive and consistent with the expectations you’ve set. I bring this up because we are also creatures of habit that may fall into patterns that don’t support our trust-building ideal.

Here is a 5-question flexibility self-assessment for seeing what your direct reports see. If you are unsatisfied with your answers to the prompts below, create a two-month micro goal to change the pattern.


Do I ask the same people for help when trying out new ideas?

If you answered yes, your team sees a manager who has created a silo of trusted advisors. The impression you are leaving is that you are inaccessible. Those in the “out-crowd” will try to get inside, but their confidence and performance will suffer if they can’t.

For those who answered no, continue to bring your team in to discuss ideas with a clear expectation of the final decision maker rolling out new ideas. Fair process is a construct that will help you set expectations and communicate decision-making protocol.


Am I an early adopter of technology?

Technology is a massive driver of productivity. If you consider yourself old school, consider technology an opportunity for reverse mentoring and learning from tech-savvy people.

The practice of reverse mentoring allows you to learn from colleagues and your direct reports to sharpen their technology competencies.


Do I seek out dissenters to vet ideas?

Sometimes we fall in love with our ideas. But every idea has a counterpoint, and it is important to understand its risk, cost and impact. For that, you need lots of points of view. If you are new to seeking out dissenters, use Edward De Bono’s approach, the Six Thinking Hats.

This mechanism assigns roles and characteristics to each of the six hat colors. The exercise aims to look at issues from all sides and invite robust conversation. Using the hat colors allows personality-driven responses to be put aside as the group works methodically within each color to vet an idea thoroughly. Although this is not what De Bono intended, I’ve also had success assigning different hat colors to individuals and inviting conversation among the colors.


In meetings, do I talk more than listen?

If you answered yes to the question above, remind yourself of the 80/20 rule. Use your role to set the stage and outline the objectives and results needed from the meeting, then step aside and invite conversation from your team.

Asking someone else to determine the meeting agenda also helps shift control from you to someone else. Think of your role as a facilitator who ensures everyone is respectfully heard.

If you can’t keep yourself from doing most of the talking, ask a peer to remind you to step back. Consider if you need to attend every meeting. Some meetings may be more productive without you overseeing the conversation.


Am I comfortable not knowing the answer?

If you answered that you are not comfortable, that’s ok. It’s also an opportunity to give authority to others with more experience with the subject matter. Giving others autonomy to run with ideas and try new things is a significant driver of staff retention. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers; that’s why you have a team.

With the baseline you’ve just created, schedule yearly check-ins with yourself to see where you are at that moment and if changes need to be made. Showing up as a manager who invites ideas and sets clear expectations creates a supportive environment that builds trust, loyalty, and a happier team.


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