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3 Daily Actions That Set the World's Best Managers Apart

3 Daily Actions That Set the World's Best Managers Apart
by Ryan Pendell and Bryant Ott

The calendar has turned to February, and let's face it, we have let our unrealized New Year's resolutions quietly fade away.

We thought we'd get in shape. We thought we'd save more money. We thought we'd do better -- be better -- this year. But now, we're retreating to our old routines just like every other year.

Let's rethink our resolutions and try something different.

Sure, maybe you didn't achieve some of your personal goals. But have you ever thought about what resolutions you could (or should) make professionally?

More importantly, have you considered the positive impact you could make on everyone you work with if you resolved every day to be a better manager than the day before?

Such a commitment could reap significant dividends for your team and your workplace. Gallup research proves that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement.

How You Can Commit to Being a Better Manager Every Day

Being a better manager every day sounds like a tall order, but it doesn't have to be.

If you don't know how to get started, that's OK.

Just like a new exercise routine, the first step is to start with small changes. As you master each new level, add more challenges.

Gallup has spent decades studying the behaviors of the world's best managers. We've identified what great managers do to get the most out of their teams every day.

The following ideas will help you begin. They're simple -- yet powerful enough that you and your employees will see an immediate impact on performance.

1. Manage others using your CliftonStrengths.

You can't help your team members maximize their potential if you haven't invested in your own talents first.

Do you know what you naturally do best? If you answered no, start by completing the CliftonStrengths assessment.

This 177-item assessment uncovers which of 34 talent themes you rely on most to:

  • build relationships

  • think strategically

  • execute plans

  • influence others to accomplish goals

Those sound a lot like the tenets of successful management, right?

Armed with your personalized CliftonStrengths report and action items proven to help managers use their strengths to succeed in their role, you can start to approach your daily responsibilities using your natural talents.

And if you're one of the nearly 18 million people globally who have already discovered their CliftonStrengths, here's a different question: How often do you review your results and think about how to apply your strengths in your role?

You don't have to go it alone. While Gallup research finds that today's employees need their manager to act more like a coach than a traditional boss, managers also need coaching to help them understand and develop their own strengths and learn to apply them to their role.

So as you prepare to invest time and resources to manage your team better, don't forget to invest in your own strengths-based development.

2. Lead your team with their CliftonStrengths in mind.

Creating a culture that values what's inherently right with employees instead of fixating on what's wrong with them is at the heart of what great managers do.

By coaching employees -- continually, using proven and effective conversation techniques -- based on their CliftonStrengths results, managers learn how to relate to their teams to get the best out of every individual.

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Some of Gallup's earliest strengths research found that a strengths-based approach to management is one of the best ways to improve the employee-manager relationship.

Nothing our experts and researchers have observed since then has contradicted that finding. In fact, Gallup's most recent meta-analysis demonstrates clear benefits for workgroups that experience strengths-based development, including:

  • 10% to 19% increased sales

  • 14% to 29% increased profit

  • 3% to 7% higher customer engagement

  • 6% to 16% lower turnover (low-turnover organizations)

  • 26% to 72% lower turnover (high-turnover organizations)

  • 9% to 15% increase in engaged employees

  • 22% to 59% fewer safety incidents

Focusing on individuals' strengths is an easy practice to establish, but it requires commitment. Start by making sure each employee has the opportunity to complete the CliftonStrengths assessment, and then take the time to understand their results and how best to lead them based on what they naturally do best.

3. Engage your employees every day.

A strengths-based approach is vital to leading a high-performance team. And managers who lead high-performance teams have an unwavering focus on employee engagement.

When you see or hear the term "employee engagement," your mind might go straight to your HR department's annual survey.

But that's not how your employees experience engagement. They are engaged -- or disengaged -- every day, not just once a year when they take a survey.

To your team, engagement is the feeling of wanting to come to work in an environment where they feel like part of a team. Engaged employees go above and beyond expectations.

Top-down corporate policies don't give employees that motivation. You do. Every day, you embody the organization's values and culture to your employees.

As the manager, you set the tone. Almost seven in 10 employees (67%) who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths are engaged. And when employees strongly disagree with this statement, the percentage of employees who are engaged plummets to 2%.

Regardless of when -- or if -- your organization measures employee engagement using the Q12 survey, you don't have to wait for a workplace engagement assessment to address the essential elements of great managing in your everyday efforts.

To start, consider how you would answer the following questions:

  • Is every member of my team clear about their own responsibilities and each other's responsibilities?

  • Do my team members have everything they need to complete the tasks they're responsible for?

  • Have I positioned my team members to make the best use of their strengths?

  • Am I giving my team feedback on how we are meeting our goals?

  • Do my team members know that I care about them and their success?

  • As we work on our daily tasks, am I looking for ways for my team members to expand their skills, knowledge and strengths?

Using these questions to shape your management approach will put you in the right frame of mind to have a positive impact on your employees' engagement from the minute they start their day.

Conversations Are Critical to a Strengths-Based, Engagement-Focused Approach

Meaningful conversations with your employees every day are at the core of high-performance team management.

Talk to your employees about what they want to learn and how they want to grow in their role. Praise great performances whenever you see them, instead of just during annual performance reviews. And whatever you do, make sure your conversations are future-oriented, productive and focused on employees' strengths.

None of this is passive. It takes attention and commitment to have conversations that are genuine, not contrived.

Start by asking the right questions. Really listen to the answers -- even if they aren't what you want to hear. Help employees set goals for themselves that are realistic, aspirational and, most importantly, aimed at achieving outcomes that are important to them, the team and the organization.

Gallup can help you lead your team to high performance. To learn more:

Gallup


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