On any given day you are caught in the middle: between your boss, your peers, your staff and your customers. On a good day, everyone’s goals are aligned and even the biggest obstacles feel manageable. On a bad day, you feel like the rope in a game of tug-of-war.
Whether you are a functional or project manager, the act of managing teams is hard work. And most managers get very little help learning how to do it well. But we all want to be good at our job. We want to know that we spend our days doing something that is meaningful and contributes to those around us — and the more emotionally invested we are in the people we work with, the more we want to show up and be a strong part of that team.
Being a manager is one part art and one part science. Teaching the science part — while it is rarely taught to new managers at all, much less well — is doable. It takes time, and there are different methodologies that can be used, but learning it is something that many committed managers ultimately find the resources to help them learn.
The art part, however, is trickier. The art is about the people — how do you motivate them? How do you get the best out of them? How do you create a cohesive team? How do you build trust? How do you have a culture (even just within your team) that makes people want to stay?
The solution to this is what I call being an Engaged Manager. Managers are frequently measured on the employee engagement levels of their teams, and so to proactively drive that process a manager needs to learn what habits to build into their management toolkit that will produce the desired results.
In a perfect world, you, your boss and your peers all have a goal and plan for how to do this well across the organization in a way that works together for the benefit of the whole organization.
But, even when that’s not the case, you are still in charge of your team. And how you influence them is your real starting point. But you don’t have to do it alone. You can get help upping your game as a boss.
Being a kick ass boss is no small goal. But knowing that you not only delivered what you needed to for the company, but you made a meaningful impact on the lives of the people who worked for you, makes the work worthwhile.