Blog Post

Are You Being the Best Manager You Can Be?

Chad Savoy

VP of Sales, Datadog

We believe that to be the best leader you can be, you need to be a fearless, bold, effective coach on a daily basis. Aspirational, right?

The path to greatness seldom runs smoothly though, so here are a few strategies to get you started.

1. Talk less, listen more

Often we get a clearer understanding of our own goals, ambitions and weaknesses by talking them through. So try this: stop talking at employees at review time. You’ll get far more useful information if you just listen to what they have to say. With some people that might mean the occasional uncomfortable silence, but be patient and give them the opportunity to fill it.

2. Play to your (and your team’s) strengths

Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses can really change how you coach and give feedback. Knowing your frame of reference ("I have high technical ability", "I have no problems conducting tricky negotiations") and recognizing differences in your team’s abilities means you make your feedback more relevant for individual development.

3. Manage teams, not individuals

Performance reviews typically look at individuals, but managers are ultimately responsible for their team’s performance. By identifying individual strengths and skills gaps, you can encourage team members with complementary skills to team up; promoting teamwork, providing learning opportunities, and increasing the likelihood of project successes.

4. Accentuate the positive

We all know our professional strengths, but our weaknesses represent the areas where we have the greatest potential for growth. Focus on each employee’s strengths while encouraging them to find ways to develop skills that need improvement. Turn weaknesses into growth areas, and they may eventually become strengths as well.

5. Be inspirational

The most successful organizations have one thing in common: they recognize achievements to inspire employees. So find everyone’s exceptional talents, build coaching and feedback around them, then refine them further by providing challenging growth opportunities. And make sure each employee gets recognized for their talents, reinforcing current performance and driving strong performance in the future.

6. Give feedback frequently

Acknowledging achievement is Management 101: give feedback frequently - it means more in real time than it would 6 months from now - and do it publicly when appropriate. And when you need to correct the occasional misstep, be direct, and don’t criticize the person (it’s about the action). Above all, you need to be honest and sincere if you want your feedback to carry any weight.

7. Make performance reviews about people

Performance reviews aren’t just about the numbers; they’re about the people and their contributions to the team and the overall organization. Demonstrate how their efforts drive overall success so they feel a part of something bigger than just themselves: driving engagement, productivity and ultimately success.

Being a good manager is tough enough. To make all the difference, choose tools that were developed to support people, provide organizational insight and drive real performance:

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Employment law is complicated and can have big repercussions for your company if employees fail to adhere to it — either out of ignorance or neglect. A talent contractor for Comcast was just forced to pay $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit over unpaid overtime — a violation of employment law. While you can't expect everyone at your company to be experts in the law (that's why you should have an attorney on retainer), your managers should be trained on the basics. Otherwise, you make your company susceptible to lawsuits.

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