I’ve always been a fan of simple things and simplification. Artist Ed Sheeran said in one interview that he can play any song on the British pop chart using 4 chords. The interviewer didn’t believe it, so Sheeran asked the TV studio for a guitar so he could prove it. And succeeded. Even difficult songs can be played simply.
In management, we tend to complicate things instead. We are constantly inventing new isms, trainings and theories, although in the end it’s all about simple things. Ever since I co-founded Humbol, my goal has been that we could help as many leaders as possible lead better. This does not mean that you necessarily should do more, but rather make sure that you do the simple things really well.
We have identified 3 things that, in our opinion, ”is enough” to succeed as a manager:
I claim that every team and individual needs direction and purpose for what they do. It is more meaningful to build a church than to carry bricks. Still, we usually end up carrying those bricks. We easily figure out WHICH tasks need to be performed. We forget to stop at the word “Why?”.
In my opinion, setting goals doesn’t need to take much time. For example, our team gathers around the goals once every six months. We spend one whole day together, evaluate the fulfillment of past goals in their entirety and set new goals for the next 6 months. We usually do this by agreeing on 3-5 common goals, which we break down into personal goals. This way, everyone can better see how their own doing will affect the team’s goals.
The next, even more untapped thing from the goals are regular discussions. If you hold a well-prepared 20-30 minute one-on-one conversation with each team member every other week, you have the most powerful tools in your hands to improve the employee experience. With constant interaction, you build trust and can proactively react to things. The one-on-one discussion is also the place where you can monitor how the previously set goals are progressing and if something needs taking action.
We all crave feedback. The fact that I am told when I did something well is of course flattering and I am taken by it, but the moments when someone helps me to do my job even better, I remember much longer. Feedback should be seen as a gift. In my opinion, the best gifts don’t have to be big, but there is a thought behind them.
I have developed 3 good practices for giving feedback over the years:
- Before the upcoming one-on-one discussion, think about if there is something you could give your team member feedback on. Consider how the feedback could best help your team member. If you can’t figure anything out, don’t leave feedback. Feedback should not be forced.
- When preparing for the one-on-one discussion, ask the team member if there is something they would like to receive feedback on?
- Organize larger one-on-one or development discussions 1-2 times a year, when the team member can choose who they want to receive feedback from. As a manager, you are not always the best person to give feedback, but a better person can be a colleague or even a customer. Think together, ask HR for help in formulating good questions, and then go through the feedback together with a team member and reflect on it in the next one-on-one discussion.
- Together with the team members, create purposeful goals, for example, once every six months.
- Have a well-prepared one-on-one discussion with each team member once every two weeks. If the team is bigger, once every 4 weeks is good.
- Whenever you can, help the team member get useful feedback.
Being a manager is a challenging enough job already, so don’t make it harder. Focus on the simple things and do them well.
I hope you got some help and ideas from my text. If you want to continue the conversation with me, you can, for example, book a short 15-minute call via this link.
Humbol is a smart, digital tool that connects team managers and team members in continuous and meaningful conversation. We believe that a healthy, action-driven feedback culture is a key to growth of both organizations and people. Our simple method brings a systematic and service-minded leadership to organizations of all types and sizes. We want to skip management jargon and focus on doing simple things well and systematically.