Management 101: Motivating Your Team
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New managers often make the mistake of thinking that well-executed projects or exquisitely modeled revenue projections are the definition of success. But how you lead and motivate your team on you way to getting to those outcomes is just as important. Managing others can be one of the most rewarding parts of a job—but that doesn't mean it's always easy, especially the first time around.
Lead by Example
As a manager, your style is going to define your team. And different styles work: the no-nonsense manager can push a team toward efficiency and productivity; the caring manager can nurture a team to grow professionally and learn to take thoughtful risks.
When developing your management style, think about the things you appreciated most and least in your managers when you first joined the working world. You can even ask friends what they admire and resent in their bosses.
Sometimes, managers set the tone through the small things: What message are you giving your team if you send them an email over the weekend, when it could have waited until Monday? Or if you insist on your team eating lunch at their desk? Be thoughtful about all the little decisions you make, because they really add up to create a more (or less) positive working environment.
Remember, too, that certain characteristics are never in fashion: impatience, passive-aggressiveness, and favoritism will never win you the respect and loyalty of your team.
Their Success is Your Success
As a project manager, you cannot be successful without your team. Keeping them excited and supported, while making sure they have room to grow professionally, is essential for getting the best out of your team. Complimenting them in front of a more senior boss or giving them a chance to present to the executive team can really make a difference to your team members, and it conveys to them that you appreciate their work and have their back.
Also, look for opportunities you can give your team members to help them grow and learn. It could be having them attend an industry conference or a certificate program subsidized by your company, or letting them take on a “stretch” project they’re interested in that will give them a chance to shine.
When People Fall Short
If, on the other hand, you have someone who is struggling, you still need to have their back. Sit them down and let them know that they aren't quite performing at the level that you would like to see, but that you see potential in them, and give them tactical suggestions on what they could do better. Give them feedback early and often and create the culture of "I want to help you succeed."
Make it a two-way conversation, too. You should ask, “Is there something I or the team could do differently to help you?” Take those comments calmly and don’t be defensive. Seeing you make an effort can go a long way. Plus, sometimes, it’s your own management style or unconscious habits that can be getting in the way—so learn from your team’s feedback, and move on.
After a few weeks (or months, depending on your company culture), if someone is still not performing well enough, bring it up to your supervisor. Carrying dead weight on the team drains you as well as the rest of the team.
Being a good manager is a critical skill as you move up in the professional world. Having a team that not only performs well, but that respects you and is loyal to you, will make you shine in the eyes of your peers and your superiors. Plus, you and your team are more likely to enjoy working together—a big step toward your (and their) happiness on the job.