Whether you are new to managing or have been at it for years, it’s worth periodically taking some time to reflect on whether your management skills are effective.
Of course, that raises a serious question: How do you judge effectiveness in this instance? Relying on your results isn’t quite enough. Management skills aren’t just about results, but about the entire process. You may get the results you need from your team, but are you getting the best out of them?
There is no single profile that makes for an effective manager. Every manager comes to the role with their own set of strengths. It is knowing how to use those strengths to ensure each employee can do their best that makes a manager effective.
Here are three steps you can take to ensure your management skills are up to par:
1. Understand How Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses Impact Your Performance as a Manager
If you’re willing to accept that you have limitations and that even your strengths can at times hinder you, you’re already ahead.
Much of management has to do with understanding how your actions will be interpreted by your employees. For example, you may be very analytical, and this may contribute a lot to your professional success. However, if you process everything through a very analytical lens, you may have a hard time being empathetic with your employees when they run into obstacles. In order to best support your employees, you need to understand not only your own strengths and weaknesses, but also how those strengths and weaknesses interact with your employees’ own needs.
2. Recognize the Unique Strengths of Each Team Member
Only by understanding the unique strengths of each individual on your team can you ensure that your team, as a whole, performs to the best of its abilities. Equally important is accepting that no strength is better or worse than another. Each strength is simply different, and all are equally valuable.
This can be a difficult concept for many to accept. However, both you and your team members need to internalize this truth, and doing so starts with self-evaluation. To get your team thinking about their own strengths and honoring the strengths of others, try this exercise adapted from Gallup:
First, start an open dialogue with your team in which everyone identifies their strengths. Next, have each team member pick a strength of theirs that they love and one that drives them crazy. For example, if someone is strong when it comes to ideation but doesn’t have the expertise or focus to execute, that may drive them crazy. Finally, ask each employee to share a strength they admire in another team member. During the course of this conversation, your team will quickly come to see how valuable each person truly is to overall team success.
3. Leverage Your Team Members’ Strengths
Once everyone’s strengths are out in the open, you and your team members can use this information to distribute responsibilities on various projects. Knowing who excels at what (and enjoys doing so) allows you to assign tasks to the right people, creating a more cohesive and complementary work environment as a result.
Be aware that everyone should have the opportunity to utilize a few different strengths rather than repeatedly leaning into one strength over and over again. Employees may start feeling burnt out and unfulfilled if they are only ever asked to use one of their many strengths.
A visual representation of your team’s strengths can be a great resource as you approach projects and determine how to assign tasks. You can do this with an excel spreadsheet or even through pictures and graphs.
When you manage to your team’s strengths, your employees will be more engaged. More engagement leads to higher retention and happier workers who produce their best work. Make engagement your goal as a manager, and the results you need to achieve will follow.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.