When I first became a manager, I really struggled with figuring out the best way to develop my team. I was so used to doing it all myself, that I didn’t realize that I had to unlearn a few of the “best practices” that had gotten me to the next level. I soon realized that as a manager, your teams’ success equates to yours. And not only that, but your ability to inspire and develop people is actually critical to your own future, as the higher you climb up the leadership ladder, the more you depend on the success and strengths of others to achieve key objectives and goals. So, whether you’re on-boarding entry-level hires or working with a long-standing team, here are five “don’t miss” steps that managers of all experience levels can use to develop a strong, cohesive team.

1) Ensure that each person truly understands their role.

Many employees know the basics of what their role entails, but do not have an in-depth understanding of it. Oftentimes, people get hired, onboard, and start working without anyone having taken the time to clearly spell out what they are fully expected to do or how their role fits into the success of the team and company. Take the time to meet with each person and do a thorough briefing. Be sure to ask them how they perceive their role, detail what the expectations are, discuss their career goals, and outline what needs to be achieved to accomplish those goals. A clear understanding of one’s role and a definitive roadmap to advancement are essential to development.

2) Provide training and development tools.

Based on the individual’s current skill sets and abilities, customize training to ensure they understand how to be successful in their current role at your company. Then, continue to offer additional development tools, classes, trainings, and assignments to build upon their experience and shape their competencies for a future role.

3) Step away and let them do their job.

Many managers struggle with trusting their team to get the work done. We are all very busy, so as managers we think the job will get done better and quicker if we just do it, right? Not, exactly.  No one will benefit from that behavior.  For me, this was the toughest part of becoming a manager. I trusted my team, but I always thought that if I kept taking things on, I was helping them, when in reality it actually had a negative effect on them.  I was not letting them do their job, and I was getting burnt out from trying to do too many things at once. The tendency to be a high performer through personal productivity is a skill that enables managers to get to a manager role, but has to be unlearned as work is done through your people. Be sure you’re people are trained, know the expectations, then let go, and let them handle it. You’ll need to be available and provide supervision, but the more you trust them, the more confident they will become. Empower them to make decisions and to handle the responsibility of their roles.

4) Meet with team members regularly to discuss goals.

Development won’t happen without accountability. Provide a regular check-in where monthly goals are reviewed and new goals set. Be sure to celebrate success and to provide honest feedback on areas where progress needs to be made. Each employee has different learning curves and styles, so be sure to customize the approach to fit their style. Remember, their success is your success, so create a supportive, open, honest environment where feedback is appreciated, and make it clear that their improvement impacts their success. Many managers shy away from giving constructive feedback as they do not want to offend their employees, but what some managers do not understand is employees yearn for constructive feedback. It is imperative that they know what continuous improvements they need to make so they can meet their goals. Before wrapping up your meeting, clearly articulate what they need to work on for the next time. Being vague will not benefit either party, as people cannot develop what they cannot measure.

5) Game plan for their growth.

As much as you need your team intact and functioning well, it’s your job to make sure you are developing people who can advance to the next leadership level. Not every team member will have that potential or even desire a promotion. But for those who do, focus on providing stretch assignments, reviewing the challenges and expectations they will face at the next level, and measure their development progress. Don’t be afraid to let go when they are ready to move up. Many managers make the mistake of developing people who are “almost there” and then never allow them to move on because it disrupts the team. Be proud of their success, and celebrate that you helped them get there. Development is a continual process and, if done across the organization, it ensures a steady flow of leaders moving up through the organization.

The last thing I want to emphasize is a caution. None of this will work if you don’t focus on building trust among your team. Your team needs to know they can trust you. Treat them with dignity, respect, and let them know that they are each valuable. If they know their success matters to you, they will respect your development feedback and reward you with the effort of improvement. And that’s one of your most important responsibilities as a manager – one that can be very rewarding as you help people achieve their personal best.

Author: Donna DeCosta is a Strategic Director for Seven Step RPO. She has more than seven years experience in the RPO industry, and currently oversees large, high-volume accounts while providing strategic consulting to client stakeholders. Donna’s expertise includes team building, client relationship development, mentoring, and operational delivery. Image credit: Shutterstock

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