Soft skills are all the rage these days (and are a hallmark of successful managers). If you’re not familiar with what soft skills are, they look a little something like this:
- Problem solving
- Interpersonal skills
There are many more, but the last two on our short list — interpersonal skills and communication — are probably the most vital in a multi-worker environment. Managers can problem solve and be creative until the cows come home, but if they lack the ability to communicate and be personable with their staff, they risk compromising the work culture.
There may be a million reasons why top-tier management fails in these areas, but the primary reason they struggle is that they allow their emotions to get the best of them. To improve workplace culture and increase productivity in your organization, let’s look at what successful managers regularly do to manage their emotions.
1. Successful Managers Listen to Their Gut
Managers have been around the block. They’ve “done their time” and moved up through the ranks to get to their current position. Some take courses and workshops along the way. Thanks to their experience, they are able to make solution-based decisions that keep their team organized and fulfilled. But sometimes those decisions don’t come so easily. When this happens, seasoned managers tap into their intuition for resolve. They hear it, trust it, and act on it.
Without emotions driving the way, management can determine the best course of action during difficult situations by listening to that intuition. Sometimes a gut reaction may not jive with a traditional resolution, but that’s what makes these successful managers superior in their work. By trusting their instincts and tapping into years of experience, a good manager can come to a conclusion that serves their team for the greater good.
2. Successful Managers Don’t Wear Their Hearts on Their Sleeves
Everyone goes through “stuff.” We all have struggles and obstacles to overcome, even on our best days. But sharing those struggles openly with our employees is a recipe for disaster. While a solid leader should never talk as if he or she is above the employees, a good manager should also never drop to a level that causes employees to no longer respect the position. This can happen when overly emotional leaders share their struggles with the people they manage.
Good leaders know where to draw the line with details about their personal lives and the personal lives of others. They recognize that lowering the energy of their staff by sharing intimate details also dissolves trust and respect. Managers who feel the need to share this kind of information with others should do so outside of the workplace and only with trusted friends and family.
3. Successful Managers Do What Is Right, Not What Is Popular
Everyone wants to be liked. It’s in our DNA. But unfortunately, wanting that kind of approval can actually backfire and cause strain between ourselves and our employees. Inexperienced managers tend to make popularity a priority when they take their position at the helm. When they do this, they compromise the integrity of themselves and the company.
Take, for example, something in the workplace that isn’t working for the overall well-being of the organization or team. Maybe it’s the punch-in system. Some businesses allow employees to punch in via their cell phone. And while it’s a convenient option for many, it can also open the window for late workers to still punch in “on time,” even when they’re not at their desk.
A manager who sees a loss of revenue in this area needs to set his or her personal emotions aside and take what might be considered an unpopular action for the greater good of the company. Removing the phone punch-in system and instituting a new system instead may not be a favorite choice for some, especially if the phone option was the status quo. But by challenging the status quo and stepping up to do what’s right, the manager enforces the idea that tardiness and dishonesty won’t be tolerated. Making the right choice needs to be more important than being liked by all.
4. Successful Managers Solve Problems and Don’t Place Blame
Good leaders shoulder the blame. They don’t hand it off. Good leaders also set out to solve problems before they become major issues. To do this, however, they must be able to separate their personal feelings from the issue at hand.
A strong manager will first determine the core of the issue. What brought the problem on in the first place? How did it grow? What can be done to resolve the problem and keep the workplace culture healthy and happy? Finding those answers requires that the leader ask questions skillfully while also gathering data. Once the manager does this, the data can be brought to the CEO and explained.
All the while, the focus needs to remain on solving the problem. If a manager feels the need to say to the CEO, “Jeff just can’t get here on time. It’s his fault we’re always behind,” he is letting his emotions drive his job. Instead, he should approach with resolution and leadership by saying, “I’m working on finding a way to get Jeff here on time. This is how I intend to resolve it so we are no longer behind.”
5. Successful Managers Don’t Procrastinate
Ever have a day where you just don’t feel like doing something? We all do. Even the most successful leaders in the world struggle with facing important issues when they feel stressed. But successful leaders don’t ignore those issues — and that’s what sets them apart from the rest.
Good managers recognize that not addressing an issue only makes it worse. Their lack of response won’t make the problem go away and they know this. Therefore, as uncomfortable as it may be, they tackle the issue head-on. They don’t wait to do it later and they don’t put it on anyone else. Those same effective leaders understand that a late response can cause issues in unexpected ways with any involved parties.
When faced with difficult decisions, solid managers tackle the issues right away so fewer people are affected. Leading in this way also shows team members how damaging procrastination can be and empowers them instead to lead in a way that serves the greater good.
Moving Forward with Solidarity
A manager is often positioned as the most important person on a team. He or she is poised to bring out the very best in the employees. These managers are the leaders, the answers to unanswered questions, and the most trustworthy people in the pack. Their job is to heighten the performance of the team.
It is said that a solid, seasoned manager doesn’t just manage projects, he or she manages eager people who are the reason a successful project comes to fruition. By setting emotions aside and leading with confidence, teams work harder and are happier within the culture, and there is nothing more fulfilling that working with people who love what they do.