As a young manager you are still trying to find the secrets to success to become an effective manager. Just remember that management is a process and your process is part of an overall management system. (I hope your organization is using a management system but even so you should develop your process for managing). I have already given you some basic principles to follow such as VARI, CPQQRT’s, and 4Q’s. I have also explained how to evaluate through the individual capability profile or the Triangle. Now for some simplistic practical advice.
First, make a file for each of your direct reports. if you still use a mix of paper and soft-copy communications, this may mean setting up a soft file on your computer and a hard copy file in your secure filing drawer. Naturally you should have basic information about your employee such as their last performance review, or their application/resume. You should also have a written set of jointly agreed goals for the year (or an appropriate time period) in the file. If you have not studied and are not familiar with your organization’s performance management system, become familiar with the documentation expectations and the criteria for your review. Now get in the habit of writing notes to yourself about each of your direct reports and placing the note in their file. This is done when you observe or hear someone comment about good things your direct report does. Likewise when there are things that fall below expectations. Accumulate the notes during the year and use them in the face to face chat times mentioned below to provide feedback, and during your companies official performance review time each year. Most employees will appreciate you providing specific example of what you have observed, and you will have a better view of their overall performance, including behaviors, during the review period. When you complete a documented official performance review of a direct report, purge and destroy all these notes. The reason for this is first, you have just completed a performance document which should have included these items as part of the review, and second, there are legal concerns if these notes were to be taken out of context and used separate from the documented review.
Now set up a repeating face to face chat time with each direct report. For higher level managers, this chat time may repeat monthly but at lower levels the chat time may be needed more often. Use good judgment about the time frame for repeating the chat time. This is not a micro-management session but rather a “how are things going?” and “how can I help?” chat. Use the time to review performance issues (like the observations in the notes mentioned above)and progress toward goals, set context related to the 4 questions (4Q’s), and gain insights about the overall collaboration between all members of your team. While other meetings with your direct report may be about a specific project, schedules, problem solving, general day to day issues, or even planning the future; your chat time is about building a two way, trusting, working relationship and is dedicated to people management issues specific to that direct report.
Young managers are often placed in the manager role due to proficiency related to the technical work which they do. They may have no experience and no training in people management. Therefore they focus on the technical work and not the people work of their role. Use the advice above to put more effort into your people work. It will benefit you, your team, and your organization.
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