Six Simple Habits of Caring Managers Guest Post by Heather R. Younger, J.D.

I love the teams I lead, and I am not afraid to admit it!

I would like to counter many of the articles and blogs that talk about the landmines that might await managers who get too connected to their employees, or as I prefer to call them, my team members.

I choose to be a transparent and vulnerable leader.

I have also been very blessed to have team members who support me and truly appreciate my management style. While I can always get better at loving on the team members with whom I have the privilege to work, I have been successful as a manager, because I am fine with gushing over my team. I want to share with you some of the key things that I do to keep the ‘love affair’ (let’s think professionally, shall we…) going strong.

1. Seize every opportunity to rave about them

A person will go much further if they feel recognized for their efforts and what they bring to the table. Every single one of us wants to feel like we are valued. This is why I focus on recognizing even the smallest of improvements or efforts from my team members.

Instead of focusing on the negative or what they may be weaker in, I choose to focus on where they shine and recognize them in those areas as often as possible.

I may write a handwritten note and place it on their desk, or I may recognize them in a meeting. To some, this may seem like overkill. Quite honestly, while it is a lot of fun, it does take a bit of focused energy, but the energy is well spent and will end up leaving you eager to see how they grow as a result.

2. Give them your undivided attention

I learned early on in my management career that I could achieve more with a team than I could by myself. Having said that, the most important tactical thing I ever instituted as a leader was to set one-on-one meetings every single week with my team members.

{Some of you may cringe at the thought of having to set aside so much time while having to wear many other hats, but I promise you will not regret doing this.}

I would highly recommend this to a leader whom is looking to take the team or a division to the next level. People will say much more about their fears, goals and desires in a meeting alone with their manager than they will in a crowded room. While I still think that team meetings are key for cohesiveness,

the dividends that a manager earns by investing the time to privately meet each direct report is crucial.

You can either agree on an agenda ahead of time, or simply ask them what is on their mind. Don’t worry, a lot of valuable coaching information will usually flow from these meetings. I usually learn a thing or two in the process.

3. Coach them to coarse-correct with love

I know the word “love” or “love affair” used in the work environment makes some feel a little uneasy (and conjures up images I apologize for bringing to the surface in this post), but we spend the majority of our waking hours with people with whom we work. When I say that I love my team members, what I am really saying is that I have a huge amount of respect for them as individuals and that I long for them to grow and for me to grow while coaching them to become their best.

From this daily exchange, true admiration is revealed.

I do not want you to think that managing a team is all about flowers and chirping birds. Occasionally, I find it necessary to sit down with a team member to really just help them course-correct. There may have been something they said in a team meeting, or a way in which they spoke to a customer. Whatever the reason,

I always choose to coach out of love.

This type of discussion usually ends with some good insight and next steps. Again, I do not badger them in these meetings. The purpose is really to help them uncover alternative paths that may produce more fruitful results. All of it is done out of ‘love.’

4. Initiate Consistent Professional Development Talks

This is not the same as recognition for specific efforts or results I wrote about earlier. When a manager chooses to speak with team members regarding their professional development, this tells the team member that no matter how many coarse-correction discussions they have had, the manager still wants to invest time into developing them.

It shows the team that they are more than just employees, but people you care about in and of themselves and not for your own gain.

This is hugely meaningful to anyone who is on the other end. It may be a conversation about a possible position opening up that will mean a promotion for them and a shift out of your department. You are focused on their advancement and growth. If you do not do this already, try it. Even if they decide not to pursue the path you discussed, they will respect you and appreciate you even more for going down that road with them.

5. Believe in Them

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”—John Quincy Adams

I love this quote!

I truly believe that my role is to help my team believe in themselves and their unlimited potential. There have been many times when a team member has come to me with great doubt over a course of action they were trying to take. I can always see it in their eyes. There are so many business quotes and articles about believing in ourselves. This is a critical point for self-esteem. Equally as important is a manager’s ability to inspire their team members to do great things just by believing in them.

I am not saying that I will believe that we can all become the President of the United States and push them in that direction. That would be plain hard-headed and unrealistic. What I mean to say is that, as a leader, and after spending a great deal of time with our team members, we should know and care about the possibilities for our team members.

Our goal should always be to help set a vision for each individual that compliments their talents and gifts and encourage them to see the possibilities more clearly.

Have fun #Believing!

6. Be transparent and vulnerable

Lastly, I feel that it is important to note that a manager can still be a leader and be transparent and vulnerable to the people they lead. First, we must be willing to follow in order to effectively lead. This can be difficult to do for many, but we can never really gain our team’s respect without revealing that we are human and mess up some times. Our team will never really grow to be fruitful without this important step.

Think about the managers you respect most. Aren’t they the ones that occasionally poke fun of themselves or have a certain amount of transparency? This is an attractive trait to have as a leader and a manager, because it makes taking risks and falling short acceptable. This is when things get fun. Try it out. You might find your connections will be deeper. You and your team members may just begin to “fall” for one another in the process. #TeamLove!

[Note: Author does not intend this post to communicate that she is a perfect manager, but merely to share some of the habits that she focuses on to be a more effective manager and leader]

READ MORE: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/six-simple-habits-caring-managers-heather-r-younger-j-d-

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