From the Desk of Chris Whitley

Over the course of my career, I have been faced with this question from someone that I am mentoring. I always begin the conversation with “I hate to be the bearer of bad news” before I say “there is no such thing as a perfect manager.” Perfection is in the eyes of the beholder, and if you feel you are absolutely perfect as a leader, you are going to be disappointed.

However, while there is no such thing as a “perfect manager,” there are some tips and advice that I can provide that can help anyone who is looking for their way. Before I begin, everyone has a different management style, so there is no right or wrong way. This is something very important to understand in the very beginning of your journey, or if you are just looking for advice.

The very first piece of advice I can give anyone is “there is not a one size fits all approach to management.” This, to me, comes down to communication. You will have a very different conversation with a low performer as opposed to someone who is a rock star, or even between someone who is outgoing as opposed to someone who keeps to themselves. No matter who you are catering your message to, you have to find the way to connect and to ensure the message you are trying to convey is consistent.

You can learn how to communicate to different types of people by simply getting to know them as a person, and not as just another face. Whenever you are meeting someone professionally for the first time, you should take a few minutes to get to know them. Don’t be afraid to ask them simple things like “how are you,” or “tell me a little about yourself.” Most people jump at the opportunity to tell people about themselves. Not only does this show them that you have some interest in them, but you can also tie your coaching back to what is important to them as well. Putting things into perspective with your staff not only will help to push them to do their best, but also push the ultimate goals of the team and the company.

We all have heard the expression “this is a marathon, not a sprint.” This is such a true statement as overall goal is continued progression to meet and exceed any goals that are put in front of you. This is where you can work with each person on your team, monitor their performance, and set goals on areas where improvement can be made. The other piece to this is something that a lot of people miss. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Do not hesitate to get into the trenches with your people and take over to show them what needs to be done. Here is the thing, this can be either as a way to encourage low performers, or a way to reward top performers. Ask questions to either confirm understanding, or even feedback from your top performers.

While there are so many other suggestions that can be mentioned here, the last one I will part on is a phrase that has stuck with me since before I entered call center management, “Feedback is 360.” While you may have the title of management or trainer, it is continuous circle. Feedback should not come exclusively from the top down, but rather from all angles. You will learn and grow in your position from not just getting feedback and coaching from those higher in the company, but also from your direct reports and your peers on the same level. It is a collaborative effort. As mentioned, everyone has their own management style, but the feedback you receive can help you hone and polish your skills.

This is obviously not an all encompassing list of advice, but this would be a good starting point for someone that may be new to leadership, or even someone who may need a refresher. I hope the information I have provided helps you in your ventures, whatever it may be.

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