If your employees aren’t performing up to par, you can blame it on a lot of things: a lack of motivation, poor training, disinterest, or an overload of work, just to name a few.
But as a manager, you just can’t just place the blame elsewhere and continue on with your day—because all of these excuses point straight to your management style. For example, maybe you’re a bit of a micromanager and don’t allow your employees to really own their work. Maybe you’re controlling and make decisions without considering your team.
Or maybe, like me, you’re a little too hands-off and don’t provide quite enough coaching, resulting in your team making a few too many mistakes or ill-informed decisions.
Once you look at it that way, it’s easy to see that something has to change—and it should start with you. The thing is, there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to changing your management style. For me, it took pinpointing what I needed to do more of (coaching and training), and working that into my daily work life.
Changing your management style isn’t easy—but trust me, it’s worth it in the end. So as you work toward becoming a better manager and make some changes in the way you coach your team, here are four things to be prepared for (and how, if you can push though, everyone will benefit in the long run).
Your Team May Question Your New Ways
When I committed to becoming a more hands-on manager and started focusing more on coaching, my team was a little skeptical of my new methods. When I scheduled individual bi-weekly meetings with each of them, they complained. When I asked to do some shadowing to pinpoint inefficiencies in their workflows, they grumbled. They were used to the way I’d been handling the team for the past several months, and they didn’t understand the need for anything different.
Now, the way you respond to their questioning is completely up to you. You don’t have to make a big announcement that you’re trying to change the way you manage—but a little explanation can go a long way to get employees on board.
I answered my team’s questions honestly, but simply (e.g., “I want to meet every two weeks just to check in on your workload and make sure I know what you have going on, so we can be on the same page and I can make sure the entire team is successful as possible”). Whatever change you’re making, there’s a logical reason for it—so don’t let your employees’ questions make you doubt yourself or your new style.
You May Not See Results Right Away
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that change isn’t going to happen immediately.
When I started honing in on coaching my team, it was a little uncomfortable—for both of us. I wasn’t quite sure how to initiate sessions of constructive criticism, and my employees were a bit resistant to hear it. In all honesty, they were used to me allowing their weaknesses to fly under the radar.
But despite how awkward and disheartening it may seem to push forward, keep going. Keep striving to be more involved, less involved, more empowering, less overbearing—whatever change it is that you’re making. Change is hard, and for a team that’s rooted in its ways, it can also take longer than you’d expect.
Eventually—like when my team finally stopped sighing with exasperation when I’d call them into a conference room to talk privately—you’ll start seeing results. And it will be worth the wait.
It’ll be Tempting to Fall Back into Your Old Ways
When you have a report due to your boss in 15 minutes, your inbox is overflowing, and, frankly, you just don’t feel like talking to anyone—including your employees—it’s going to be tempting to go back to your old routine.
For me, if I got too busy or stressed, I’d push aside any issues with my employees and told myself I’d get to those coaching sessions later. But the thing was, I never did; I simply let it go and tried to move on with my work. And I soon realized that if I kept doing that, I’d quickly find myself back at square one.
So, it’s important to constantly stay aware of your personal progress. If you look at your daily work life and realize that you’re falling back into old habits, it’s time to change something or re-motivate yourself to get back on track.
You Have to be Willing to Adapt
Of course, you can keep yourself completely on track—but if your new methods don’t actually improve anything for your team, you may have to rethink your approach yet again.
So, as you start changing your management style, figure out a few ways to measure your success. Some may be relatively subjective: Do your employees seem happier? Are they getting more done and producing quality work? Of course, solid numbers and data are incredibly valuable as well. How many customer complaints are you getting now compared to before you made the switch? Has there been a change in your rate of employee turnover?
Once you have a firm grasp on how exactly your management is affecting the team, you’ll have a better idea of how to move forward (i.e., if your new methods are working or if they need a little tweaking).
Eventually, change will happen. It just may be a little painful—for you and your employees—in the process. But if you can power through and commit to your new management style, you’ll see improvement all around.