052 – The Most Effective Managers are Shoulder-to-Shoulder Leaders
Subscribe and Listen to the Your Best Manager Podcast!
Hey there, and welcome! This is Jamie Newman here and I am ready to rock, which is a very good thing because we’ve got a lot of stuff to cover today, but it’s going to be a great show, so, thanks so much for tuning in!
And if you’ve been with me over the past couple of weeks, you’ll know that we have just started a series on the Fundamentals of Management where each Monday I’m talking about one of the core principles of managing people because if you don’t have the right foundation, how are you going to become a leader?
In fact, I came across a video this past week where John Maxwell was speaking and talking about the 5 Levels of Leadership and it was a great reminder that you don’t become a leader just because you’ve been given a title. And if you are part of my private facebook group, Uncover Your Leadership Potential, you’ve probably already seen this video because it was one of the items I shared this week as we’ve been focused on High Performance for the last 7 days within that group.
Of course, if you haven’t joined my facebook group yet… come on over! There’s a new topic each week that is based on the Monday podcast and where I share additional resources, book recommendations, videos, articles, you name it, all relating to the Monday podcast. It’s a great way to take what you hear each Monday and keep that topic or lesson top of mind throughout the week.
Anyway, in the John Maxwell video that I’m referring to, John describes how all that a title guarantees you (which is Level 1 leadership), is the absolute minimum from your employees. Meaning, if the only reason people follow you is because of your position (your title), well all you’re going to get is just enough performance for your employees to not get fired… if that!
I’ll give a quick overview of the different levels in a second, but let me first say that this video is worth the25-minutee watch because it is filled with so much great leadership advice… as you’d expect from John Maxwell.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO (YouTube)
Okay, so the 5 levels of leadership that John shares are:
- Position (That’s Title)
- People Development
- And Pinnacle
*Watch the video above for the explanation of each level
Driving Results and Level 3 Leadership
But the reason I bring this video specifically is that last week we were talking about high performance and results. I was essentially saying that your number one responsibility as a manager is to produce results. And when I came across this video, I felt really encouraged because the 3rd level of leadership that John describes, which is Production, lined up perfectly with my message and really reinforces the importance of performance and results.
It’s not enough to just have a fancy title, which is Level 1 Leadership… and it’s not enough for people to like you, which is Level 2 Leadership. You need Level 3 Leadership, you need to produce. It’s your job. It’s the reason you have a title, to begin with. After all, if performance didn’t matter, companies wouldn’t need managers… to manage performance, but performance is also what gives you credibility as a leader.
Besides that, if you do truly care about your people, well then you want to give them opportunities to grow their careers, make more money, provide for their families, come into work happy, engaged, and ready to produce meaningful work, right?
Well, how can you provide those opportunities if your team doesn’t meet or exceed expectations? How can you provide those opportunities if the group you are responsible for doesn’t provide great customer service, or doesn’t meet sales targets, or doesn’t put forward a quality product, or can’t get the product out the door fast enough?
Maybe more importantly, how can you provide those opportunities if you, yes you, if you yourself don’t also perform at a high level and set that standard and set that example?
Are you convinced? The number one responsibility, above and beyond every other responsibility is to produce results!
But we closed last Monday’s podcast by briefly answering this follow-up question.
Your Number One Responsibility is to Drive Results
How do you execute on this responsibility?
How do you ensure that both you and your team produce results?
And the answer I gave was two-fold. First of all, you need to recognize that results are your number one responsibility and the way I suggested you do that… where I talked about mindset, is to think like an entrepreneur and consider your job and your career as if you are the business owner.
But secondly, there are a few things that you can practically do to effectively execute on your number one responsibility and attain that pivotal 3rd level of leadership and ultimately propel you toward the 4th level of leader John Maxwell described.
As I shared last week, those things are first and foremost of find clarity on what exactly those results and expectations are. To get absolutely crystal clear on what’s expected of you and your team.
Once you are clear, then it’s time to strike a balance between driving those results and caring for your people.
The way that you do that is by effectively communicating the expected results while developing quality relationships with your team members.
That’s what I’ll be talking about through the remainder of this episode. How do you get clarity and then how do you strike that balance?
STEP ONE: Find Clarity
Let’s start with finding clarity.
While you may immediately think that this one should be obvious, that every manager knows what they are responsible for, you might actually be surprised!
Many Managers Don’t Know How To Measure Performance
For starters, one of the most common challenges that managers face is performance management. Meaning, most managers, and I say this from experience, most managers don’t actually know how to measure the performance of their employees! I found this to be true over and over again as I spent almost a decade consulting companies on not only how to hire people, but how to manage their employees’ performance. And from a hiring standpoint, in order for me to help a company or manager find the right candidate, I needed to know how they would measure their new employee’s performance!
The problem was that most managers didn’t actually have any metrics. It was all subjective.
And I get that in different industries and in different types of jobs, it can be difficult to come up with metrics, but they are necessary because without metrics, how do you know if you’re doing a good job?
Unless you just wait for your performance review…
So what I would hear is that managers would evaluate their employees on things like initiative or attitude or they would say something like this, “performance is based on feedback from our customers or feedback from the client.”
I’ve also heard managers say, “well if there aren’t any errors, if I don’t have to deal with anything, then I know he or she is doing a good job!”
Obviously, this isn’t good… but it’s very common that managers (this could include your boss) don’t have any metrics or don’t know how to evaluate performance.
I get to see the general results of this quiz there have been some interesting findings.
- Only 50% of students say that they know what their boss needs to see in order for them to receive a promotion.
- Only 20% of students say that they know what metrics are used to measure their performance.
- Only 25% of students say that they know which of their expected results/responsibilities are the most important to their boss… interestingly, another 25% of respondents say that their boss thinks EVERY metric is the most important.
So… you need to get some clarity.
We don’t have time to dive into this, but think about the implications of this? Think about the consequences of having MANAGERS… I’m not talking about front-line employees here, I’m talking about Managers… not knowing how their performance is measured.
Anyway, as I said, we don’t have time to get into that… but it’s not good.
How To Find Clarity / Which Results Matter?
Last week, I recommended that you should check out the ‘Manager Tools’ podcast, and I directed you specifically to a couple of episodes they put out a couple years ago that talked about the same topic… results (and retention). Well, they handled this challenge perfectly, so I’m just going to read a segment of their show notes for their Results & Retention podcast episodes they published. (Click Here to Listen to ‘Manager Tools’)
“Perhaps the biggest problem with managers relative to this First Principal is that the vast majority of managers cannot say with clarity what their primary objectives or expected results ARE.”
“The first choice is to think carefully about one’s role, and then decide what the key results should be. This takes judgment, which is an indispensable part of managing well. The problem with this for most is the danger of being wrong. What if you choose A and B and C, but your boss, who is relatively distant and doesn’t communicate much throughout the year, says in December that you did poorly because he preferred X and Y and Z? Almost no managers make this choice, in large part we submit because of most manager’s mistaken belief that other managers know what they’re doing, but they personally don’t.
The second choice is highly preferred yet more ineffective: Try to do everything – even though you know you won’t do it well because you will be spread too thin – and hope to be evaluated based on level of effort, hours worked, and “busyness.” This is the touting of activity over accomplishment, for which there are well-worn pathways, such as hating email while telling everyone you’re always doing it.”
-Results & Retention Show Notes from Manager-Tools.com
So, essentially, you have two choices. You can, first of all, come up with and decide on some expected results, but you’ve got the fear of… what if you’re wrong? And the second choice which is more common is (maybe this is what you do) that you try to do everything?
So have you been there?
You think you know what are the most important expected results are for you and your team, but you don’t want to be wrong and miss something important or focus too much on the wrong thing, so you just try to do everything and hope that you get a favorable review at the end of the year?
So, the question is, “what should you do?”
Go back to choice one and make ONE change. If you think you know what the most important expectations, objectives, and results are, write them down… but get some feedback on it! Schedule time with your boss and review it with him or her.
It’s so simple!
However, I do get why so many managers don’t do this. You don’t want to look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
But… well, wouldn’t you rather look like you don’t know but also look like you care about your performance enough to double check? …and then have the answers to the test so that you can actually perform properly?
Anyway, that’s step 1 – get clarity on what’s expected…
…and if you are the business owner, this will be both easier and harder.
It will be easier because you know what brings money in the door… those are your expected results. But it’s also harder because you don’t necessarily have someone above you who can give you feedback. And that’s why it’s so important for business owners to have mentors or even to hire a business coach to offer that perspective and assistance.
Of course, the other side of this ‘results’ thing is to discuss setting expectations for your employees. but that’s a topic in and of itself and it’s something that we’ll be covering through this series on the Fundamentals of Management because… setting expectations is a fundamental of managing others. So hang tight on that one.
STEP 2: STRIKE A BALANCE (Between Driving Results and Caring for People)
Okay then, with clarity of results covered, let’s move onto the second component which is striking a balance between driving results and caring for others and doing that through effective communication and relationship building.
I’m going to start off with a caveat here. This is way bigger that what I’ll have time for today. So this is just an overview.
You can get some additional help in this area by going through the Free Management Course which I mentioned earlier and have talked about on previous episodes, but… we are going to talk about balancing Task and People, and we are going to talk effective communication and we are going to talk about relationship building as 3 different standalone topics through this series on the Fundamentals of Management… So as you can tell, we are going to be covering quite a bit through this series, so if you haven’t subscribed to this podcast yet… you should do that so you don’t miss an episode!
Subscribe to the Your Best Manager Podcast!
Alright, onto the summary!
In order to find that balance (between driving results and caring for people), in order to communicate effectively, and in order to build real quality relationships with your employees you need to be working with your team members SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER.
Shoulder-to-Shoulder is leadership is exactly what it sounds like. It’s leading and managing your team from the front-line (where your shoulders literally touch).
- This means that instead of talking across the desk, you are pulling up a chair beside your employee at their desk.
- This means instead of shouting orders across the production floor, you are stepping in, working with your team member and coaching through your actions.
- This means instead of sending a report back and forth, you look through the report with your team member.
To effectively do this, you need to be jumping in and jumping out. I’m not suggesting that you abandon your post and I’m not suggesting that you do your team members job for them.
I’m suggesting that you are an observant and present manager who looks for opportunities to jump in, work hands-on, show your employees HOW, coach them, and then jump back out.
And I’m suggesting you jump in and work hands-on instead of shouting orders, micromanaging through reporting and data alone, and instead of annoying your employees because you are nagging them or picking apart things from across the desk or office.
There are a couple reasons why this type of shoulder-to-shoulder leadership allows you to effectively communicate and build relationships.
Shoulder-to-Shoulder Leadership = Effective Communication
For starters, when you are involved, when you are working side by side, when you are present, not just watching them work, but working with them… you will find opportunities to catch them doing good things and praise them for it, which reinforces positive behavior and communicates your expectations.
You will also find opportunities to correct the wrong behavior and not just tell them what they are doing wrong, but show them how to do it right. And yes, I said SHOW them, not tell them, but SHOW them how to do it right. This, of course also communicates your expectations.
There’s one more opportunity that comes with working shoulder-to-shoulder. You’ll identify opportunities to correct false perceptions, misunderstanding, and miscommunication. When you are working alongside your team members, you will learn very quickly whether or not they are following your directions or instructions. If they are not doing what you THINK you’ve communicated, you have an opportunity to re-state or remind your employees of what you expect.
Not to mention, the more often you are with your team members the more comfortable they will be with you around. And the more comfortable they are, the more honest they are… which allows you to better understand their perceptions of work, perceptions of the company, of their job, etc.
So shoulder-to-shoulder leadership gives you opportunities to communicate effectively because you are there with them.
But what about relationships?
Shoulder-to-Shoulder Leadership = Quality Relationships
Well, guess what. Insecure managers often distance themselves from their employees. They do this because they don’t want their employees to see their flaws and see their mistakes.
However, when you are working shoulder-to-shoulder… when you are on the front-lines with your team members… when you are chairing up with them… when you are talking to customers with them… when you are hands on… you not only get to show them how, but you get to make mistakes with them.
You get to be pushed outside of your comfort zone a little bit.
Let me give you an example:
In my last job, one of my responsibilities was cold calling. Cold calling is uncomfortable!
Because of this, many managers preferred to cold call alone. Why? Because they didn’t want others, their peers or their employees see them fumble around on the phone.
But what does this have to do with relationships?
Well, the managers who swallowed their pride and sat with their employees during the day, cold calling in front of them, making mistakes in front of them, fumbling over their words in front of them… Well, those managers built stronger relationships because their employees saw them as more human.
It’s amazing how failure, how flaws and mistakes can bring people together… how admitting your struggles can encourage people, how vulnerability can build a bond.
Let’s face it. We live in an Instagram society where it’s all about putting your best foot forward. It’s about presenting yourself as perfect as possible. With the best filter, the best angle, the best lighting, the most well-crafted comment…
As a result, the people who witness this false perfection and these unattainable portrayals, well they start to think that they need to be perfect too.
And when they aren’t perfect… these people think, well, maybe I’m the only one. I should know this. I should have the right answer. I need to look like I know what I’m doing!
So just like you, as the manager has put up a wall… well, your employees start putting walls up as well!
Now, we are talking about something way deeper than just management here, but let’s bring it back to the workplace.
Authenticity Tears Down Walls
What do you think happens when you work shoulder-to-shoulder with your team? You’ll make mistakes! And all of a sudden your employees can say, wait, I’m not the only one who isn’t perfect… my manager isn’t a robot, they aren’t superhuman, they aren’t at an unattainable level… which as we talked about last week, allows them to say, well if my manager who isn’t perfect can do it, so can I, but it also allows them to build a relationship with you because they can say, wow, my manager is just like me. A few steps ahead, but working to improve just the same.
And all of a sudden your employees can say, wait, I’m not the only one who isn’t perfect… my manager isn’t a robot, they aren’t superhuman, they aren’t at an unattainable level… which as we talked about last week, allows them to say, “well if my manager, who isn’t perfect, can do it then so can I!”
It also allows them to build a relationship with you because they can say, “wow, my manager is just like me. A few steps ahead, but working to improve just like I am.”
And now you are tearing down walls and now you’re working with them on their level. Now you have the foundation to build trust, which is the starting point for building a relationship.
So what’s your number one responsibility? Results.
And how do you achieve those results?