I’ve spent 2+ years in leadership and management. I like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two, but the truth is that I’m constantly learning.
I first entered the tech support field in 2012. During my first year I crushed it on the phones and made sure that my metrics were always stellar. I spoke to customers from all walks of life and helped them use the product that they had purchased. Straight forward right?
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m leading a team of support reps to victory (As an aside, I couldn’t have asked to work with a more talented and driven group of people in my life. They have been and always remain a constant source of inspiration for how I treat everyone that crosses my path in the professional realm).
Here’s what I can safely tell you I learned during that time:
Put people first 100% of the time. It is true that in business you may be bound by business need. But, putting people first doesn’t mean you’re overriding business need. You can be honest and fair with everyone that reports to you. Also, when your employee asks you for something, follow up with it and keep communication consistent and clear. The little things that you do for people are very telling. Are you willing to follow through on the little stuff that isn’t a business priority but might be a priority for your employee?
Let’s keep something in mind: Work pays for stuff. It makes life sustainable. Everyone that reports to you has a life outside of work that they’re trying to keep going. That stuff might impact how they feel at work. Plain and simple. We’re humans not machines. So sometimes shit hits the fan in ways that aren’t necessarily a business thing. When that happens don’t be afraid to listen. Also, if you have enough rapport with someone, don’t be afraid to ask either. I’m not saying to break all HR rules. Nope. What I’m saying is don’t be afraid to show your employees that you care about them outside of being a number on your payroll.
Respect everyone’s intelligence. Everyone pay attention because this is important! I’ve walked into job scenarios and uncovered, what I felt, were glaring issues in terms of policy and procedure. News flash: If you’re aware of it, then someone else is too. Don’t be the person issuing the condemnatory finger wag. Instead be the person that proposes a solution and asks for input. You’d be surprised how often the same thing is on everyone else’s mind. This goes for managers and employees. Propose solutions and ask everyone for their thoughts. You will have less negatives to spout off and everyone will have their ownership in the solution.
Adding onto that- Don’t micromanage people.
You should trust the people that work for you. Trust that they know the value of what they’re doing. Mistakes happen. Unless you’re the person disarming a bomb or reprogramming a nuclear missile, you probably have a fairly wide margin of error. Don’t sweat the small stuff and give everyone a chance to fix things.
Don’t just focus on making your employees better at their current job. Help prepare them for the next one. This is going to seem strange, but I think you should lose good employees. You should lose them to the opportunities they can take advantage of because you’ve helped make them that good. Don’t keep them around just because they help make you look good as a manager. Stand on your own merit and keep “movin’ product”. Your people are your product. Last I checked vendors don’t try and hold onto their product forever…
Lastly, don’t just manage your team- manage for your team. Be an advocate for the people you manage when business change comes down the pipeline.
That’s all for now.