With everything on your plate as a manager, it can be hard to carve out time to invest in professional growth. Odds are you’re constantly bombarded with invites to hour-long webinars, lengthy online courses, or conferences that never live up to your expectations. Some days you might even be lucky if you find the time to read an industry news article or check out a newsletter in your crowded inbox.
Just as you make investing in your direct report’s professional development a top priority, it’s critical to prioritize your own advancement. In fact, when you invest in yourself and your leadership skills, your team and your company stand to benefit as well.
Luckily, being a good manager doesn’t require you to spend hours taking an online class or reading a book. We’ve put together tips to help you make a larger impact on your direct reports and the company at large.
Quick wins to be a better manager and team lead
Hold a no-meeting day
While team alignment is important, spending your whole day in meetings is not an efficient use of anyone’s time – especially when there’s no time left to actually get things done. To help combat meeting fatigue, consider adopting a team-wide no-meeting day – or half-day – to give your team time to breathe and power through their to-do lists.
Not sure which day of the week is best? Consider trying a Monday or Friday to let your team catch up on emails from the weekend or get organized for the week ahead. Or, if a whole day is not feasible for your team, encourage individuals to put a few “do not book” blocks on the calendar.
Encourage professional development
Today’s employees crave professional growth, with 87% of millennials ranking it as a very important characteristic of any role. As a manager, you have the opportunity to help your direct reports achieve their career aspirations and invest in their professional growth. Make sure you have regular career development conversations, either in 1-on-1 meetings or during performance reviews. Then you can better help them reach their goals by assigning them to interesting projects, connecting them with mentors in the company, advocating for promotions, and more.
Another way to encourage a culture of continuous learning is to encourage your direct report to take advantage learning and development (L&D) opportunities. If budget allows, they could register for an in-person or virtual conference, take an online class, buy a relevant book, or attend a networking event. Otherwise, there are many free learning opportunities, webinars, and courses.
Showing your direct reports you’re invested in their growth can help you build a strong manager-direct report relationship.
As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Don’t forget to put your mental and physical health first by stepping away from your computer regularly throughout the day and week. If you work too much and push yourself too hard, you’ll quickly burnout.
Don’t be afraid to take small frequent breaks during the workday. This can help you return to your work refreshed. Sometimes walking away from a task or challenge can let you return to it with a fresh set of eyes and perspective
If you’re particularly busy and can’t fathom stepping away from your computer, even a change of scenery can be therapeutic. Take a walking 1-on-1 to step away from your computer and get some fresh air, or try working in a different room to mix things up.
Get to know your team
Part of being a great manager is knowing your team inside and out, but that’s more than just knowing their strengths, weaknesses, aspirations.
Make an effort to get to know your team on a personal level – learn their spouse’s name, their favorite baked good, the breed of their dog, their hobbies, etc. Getting closer to your employees shows you care about them and can inspire employee loyalty and improve retention. Familiarizing yourself with their distinct personalities and working styles can help you cater your management style to each individual on your team.
Ask your employees for feedback
Feedback is a two-way street. Just as your employees ask for your feedback, you should regularly ask for their feedback too. This can help you be more in touch with the needs of the team and allow you to be a better manager. Be sure to listen to their ideas, opinions, advice, and suggestions and make adjustments to your leadership style, team policies, or departmental strategies as needed. This not only improves the employee experience of your team but also shows that you value their opinions. That can go a long way for improving morale and job satisfaction.
Just note, it can be intimidating for a direct report to give you feedback that isn’t complimentary, so make sure you have a way for employees to share anonymous feedback with you. They might feel more comfortable coming forward with suggestions and you’ll benefit from their honesty.
Making Self-Development Manageable
When you have a lot on your plate, investing in your professional growth can often fall by the wayside. But even dedicating just a few minutes a day to yourself can add up.
Our new Skills Coach product offers unique daily micro-learnings in the form of a few questions, a brief exercise, and engaging content that take less than two minutes to complete – allowing you to take a pragmatic approach to your self-development in a way that fits into your busy schedule.
Use Skills Coach to invest in your leadership potential