I have been managing for several years and I think I am doing a good job, but how do I really know for sure?
As managers we can try and copy people we like, and avoid being like people we disapprove of, and then hope for the best. Over time we can fall into habits and ways of working that may or may not work for our teams.
If we want to make our jobs easier, we need to stop trying to guess what our teams think of us, and just ask.
This is the only way to really find out how good we are at management – and only of course, as long as we listen to what they say.
Follow these four guidelines to make sure the feedback you get from your teams is useful and helps strengthen your relationship:
Don’t ask your teams to tell you whether they think you are a good manager or to comment on your management style. These open, vague questions are a minefield for an employee to answer, so you might get equally vague answers in return. In a one-to-one setting ask specific questions instead –
What do you like about our one-to-one meetings? How could they be improved? You might find out that someone would rather have shorter meetings more often, or at a different time of the week, or want to add something to the agenda.
Is there anything about working together in the open plan office that helps or hinders your work?
You might hear that when you shout questions across the desk it affects their concentration and disrupts their train of thought.
Asking questions that allow your teams to give both positive and negative answers signals that you are open to feedback – good or bad.
If someone raises an issue that you don’t fully understand, ask for examples of specific behaviours. A vague statement from them won’t help you develop your management behaviours – you need to find out what you are doing that is helpful or unhelpful. But keep your tone of voice warm – otherwise it might sound like an accusation. Give them space and time to come up examples if needed.
When you hear the feedback, you might have good reasons for why you do what you do. Or you might even disagree with what they have said you do.
But, if someone has been brave enough to give feedback, and then you immediately challenge their perception or try to explain yourself, it may feel to them like a rebuttal. Like you don’t agree with their viewpoint, even though you have just asked for it. If people become fearful of a backlash then they won’t tell the truth.
If you do think it is important to clarify the situation, come back to it later. Explain that you have thought about what they said, have taken it on-board and want to share your thoughts on the topic. Again an even tone of voice is essential here!
Whatever they have said. Giving a manager feedback is exposing and if they have been good enough to try and help you, you must always thank them. Sincerely.
Feedback will help you become a better manager. Asking for it shows you are confident, and interested in the other person’s perspective. And finally don’t expect the same answers from everyone you manage, as we all like to be managed differently. The best managers are those who can adapt their style to get the best out of every person they work with.
To find out more about how our L&D team can help with your management training, visit the =mc Management Development webpages
Or have a look at our various levels of in-house and public Management training programmes
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Or if you'd prefer to speak to someone, call 020 7978 1516.
Yvette Gyles, Director