Can you remember a manager that you looked up to or admired? What was it about them that earned your respect? Part of what makes a good manager is having a solid skill set, sound judgment, and good decision making skills, but have you ever looked up to a manager just for the person that they were? Part of being a good manager is simply being good to those around you.
As a manager, there are many duties that fall into the large, seemingly ambiguous category of “being good to people” like doing great work, getting results, mentorship, coaching, providing opportunities for continued learning – the list goes on.
When I began managing my own team, I thought about what it really means to “be good” to your team, and the tangible steps I could take to fulfill that requirement.
If you’re managing people in any capacity, whether that be clients, team members, or other managers, the following are some of the little things that can help you establish a layer of trust with the people you work with to make them feel heard, appreciated, and cared for.
Using FollowUpThen, set alerts for each team members’ work anniversary. This information is readily accessible through company records, or through a quick browse on LinkedIn. Setting up alerts will allow you to (at the very least) acknowledge their contribution to the team in an email or card, or perhaps a small gift. I’ve set mine for 10 days prior to each team members’ actual anniversary date.
A quick email message can really go a long way. Below is an example of an exchange with a client:
Hat tip to @AndrewMeyer8 for the inspiration on this one!
Team member birthdays
Sending your team member a quick email or handwritten card for their birthday may go a long way. It’s a little thing that takes 2 seconds to set up, but lets them know you care. This information may be accessible via Facebook (birthdays are typically public) or Google+ profiles, or you could contact your HR department. If you’re having an especially hard time finding their birthday and want to be stalky about it, check AllMyTweets for the word “birthday”.
For people outside your company, such as third party vendors or clients, donating in their name to a charity you know they are involved with may be a nice departure from the typical fruit basket or gift card. I set alerts for 10 days in advance.
Keeping an eye on what your team is talking about on Twitter may prove to be insightful: What kinds of articles are they sharing? Are they engaging with potential recruits? Are they tweeting all day when they owe deliverables? Are they promoting a piece of content they wrote that you might not have known about? I set up a Twitter list with each of my team members and added as a column in Tweetdeck to monitor these things every so often.
I’ve also created a separate list for the points of contact involved with my clients’ accounts. And no, I don’t mean a Twitter list with their company’s Twitter accounts. I mean your POC’s personal accounts. This will help you uncover things they care about, company announcements, blog posts they’ve written, hobbies, etc. This, at the very least, gives you fodder for small talk during downtime on a conference call. Set up each of these lists with a custom column in a social media tool like Tweetdeck.
I set up TalkWalker (my favorite) alerts for each of my team members and client points of contact. I’d like to know where they’re being mentioned on the web. Did they publish a blog post or guest post somewhere? Did they make it into a roundup post somewhere? Were they mentioned in the news? I’d love to be on top of that and recognize them when possible.
For example, through the use of TalkWalker alerts, I found that one of my team members’ was engaging with reporters via HARO on his downtime. As a result, he earned mentions on publications such as Search Engine Land and US News, and in turn, mentions of our company.
Time Zones and Holidays
This is a must if you’re working with international clients or team members. Add their country’s holiday and time zone to your calendar to always be aware of them. This way you’ll know not to schedule meetings on days your team won’t be in the office and you can ask them how their Independence Day was, for example.
In Google Calendar, under the “other calendars” header in the left-hand menu, select “Browse Interesting Calendars”.
To add a secondary time zone in Google Calendar, select the gear icon and navigate to settings. Under Time Zones, you have the ability to add whichever time zone you’d like. It will then be displayed alongside your time zone.
Hat tip to Matt Hoff.
I set up email filters to flag any company-wide emails that my team members are contributing to or mentioned in. Sometimes it’s easy to miss stuff in company-wide emails so having them flagged will help me identify when my team member is contributing or earning praise from others and reward accordingly.
If the people you’re working with write a blog or contribute to a publication, subscribe to it! This is another way to gain insight into their thoughts, opinions, and things that will potentially help you establish a deeper connection.
When setting up alerts for one of my POCs, I found that his fiance has a blog. I found a ton of information about their home-building plans, their new dog, and some of the trips they’ve taken. I learned so much by doing 10 minutes of research, so I subscribed to her blog. This allows me to make a personal connection with my POC to establish trust and rapport.
If your team members (or their fiance!) write on their own blog, subscribe to it.
If you get to know your team on a personal level, chances are they will open up to you about things like births, weddings, engagements, etc. For example, one of my POCs is engaged to be married in October. I set up an alert to remind myself to send a handwritten card or gift.
I’m on a quest to do all of the “little things” I can to be the best I can to the people I’m working with. The tasks above took me less than an hour to set up for my team of 6 people and my client points of contact. If you could take one hour out of your day to be a better person to your team, would you?
Are there any things you’ve done to be great to your people? Are there any great stories you have about a current or previous manager? I’d love to hear them all in the comments below!