My number one tip as you move into wider management is…
Focus on the people as well as the tasks
Good leaders are great at motivating their team, but there is a risk, when you’re a busy manager, that you focus on all the tasks and problems and jobs to be done – and then you can easily forget to keep your team happy and motivated.
You could think of the move from ‘task focus’ to ‘people focus’ as going up through four levels:
Level 1 – Doing everything yourself.
Clearly you don’t want to be at this level!
Level 2 – Giving tasks to the “best” person,
as in the one who can do it best or most easily. This is fine if it’s an emergency and you just need the task done, but it forgets the whole area of personal development, and boredom vs. motivation
Level 3 – Giving tasks to the person who will find them interesting or a challenge
– ideally if the task has a difficulty of 7/10 you’d give it to someone who is at a skill level of 6/10, so they’d get a feeling of challenge and then success and growth. This is the essence of coaching, you are giving them tasks just slightly harder so they keep on learning and you’re there to help them if they need help.
If you give the 7/10 task to someone who is at 9/10 they’ll be bored by it – and also they could be doing something at a difficulty of 9 or 10/10, which otherwise you’ll probably end up having to do yourself!
Of course, you wouldn’t give the 6/10 person nothing but 7/10 tasks, that would exhaust them – you would mostly give them 4’s 5’s and 6’s – but every now and then give them a 7 so that they can keep on developing.
Level 4 – Starting with the person: this is where you think “What would motivate them?” and THEN come up with the task…
For example you might think “She’s at a skill level of 6/10 in this area, so, what can I find for her to do that’s at 7/10, that she will enjoy but will stretch her to the limit of her abilities, so she gets a nice feeling of succeeding at a challenge?” It’s like level 3 but the other way around.
I recommend that each month you take a short amount of time to think about how you are doing in this area. Perhaps put a repeating reminder in your diary so you don’t forget.
The monthly Motivation Review
For each person, ask yourself “Are they motivated?” and “What have you done lately to motivate them?”. Good areas to consider are
- Is Fred learning anything at the moment? Either from training or from areas of his job that are stretching him.
- Have I thanked Fred recently?
- Has Fred got any challenges on his plate at the moment, anything that is going to stretch him, and give him a sense of achievement when he achieves it?
- Have I spent a bit of time with Freda recently? Do I know about what’s going on in her life, is she happy, is anything worrying her about work or her life generally?
- Does Freda have clear objectives that she’s working on at the moment?
- Does Fred have ownership of something – something that’s HIS, where he has some freedom as to how he does it and is accountable for the results?
- Does Freda need any coaching in any areas, things that are new to her and she might be finding difficult? In fact, what has she had coaching on in the last few months?
Do this for each person, just a quick scan through, basically “are they happy?”
So for the people who work for you, does each one have a challenge, is each one learning, is each one happy? And could you set up a habit, perhaps even with a diary reminder, to have a monthly motivation review in your head?