Tuesday, March 25, 2014

15 Ways to Set a Positive Example as a Manager

“I'm not a role model... Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids.”
- Charles Barkley

When you’re a manager, like it or not, you ARE a role model. All eyes are on you. The example you set has an enormous impact on your direct report employees and those around you. If you are a newly promoted or hired manager, your employees will watch, listen, and learn about what matters to you, what’s important, what to do and what not to do. If you’ve been a manager in the same role for a while, they already have learned, and the norms you’ve perhaps unconsciously established are more powerful than that “Our Company Values” poster on the wall.
In addition to influencing your employee’s behavior and attitudes through your day-to-day behaviors, you’re also having an impact on their long term development. We all learn powerful leadership lessons from the examples – both positive and negative – from current and former managers.

Do you want your employees to conduct themselves with the highest level of professionalism? You may want to review following list and ask yourself the following questions:

Is this what I would expect and want from my employees? Am I setting the right example? What kind of lessons am I teaching?
Note: none of the items on the list below are made up – all are from the Great Leadership files of actual manager behaviors. Hopefully not my own.

1. Arrive to work and meetings on time, and don’t make a habit of leaving early.
2. Pay attention to your own development. Be a humble and continuous learner, and be transparent about your development needs and what you are doing to overcome them.

3. Ask for feedback – be open to it and listen – and be willing to give caring, constructive, and frank feedback to others.

4. Be open to change – especially when the change isn’t your own idea. When a change is announced, employees will be looking at you to see how they should react.
5. Don’t participate in gossip, spreading rumors, or speaking poorly about your boss, fellow managers, or about another one of your employees.

6. Be discreet and respect confidences.
7. Keep your non-work related business to a minimum. And don’t ask your employees to assist with your non-work related business (i.e., picking up your clothes at the drycleaner).

8. Treat everyone – regardless of their level or degree of influence – with respect.
9. Tell the truth – be a straight shooter, with no white lies. Own up to your own mistakes.

10. Keep the cynicism and sarcasm to a minimum. It poisons the work environment.
11. Maintain a sense of humor – about yourself – but never at the expense of others.

12. Pitch in and lend a hand doing the dirty work now and then.
13. Watch your language – with few exceptions, don’t swear. I don’t care what the studies say – there’s no place for F-bombs in the vocabulary of a professional manager.

14. Don’t lavish yourself or your management team with perks that are off-limits to the rank and file.
15. Maintain a professional distance from your employees – you are their manager, not their friend.

While you may not agree with every item on the list, wouldn’t you prefer to work for a manager who follows most of them?


Photography by Cassie said...

I agree with all 15 ways to set a positive example! I really would prefer to work with a manager that exemplified all 15. I’m a pretty social person, and the only one I struggle with is maintaining a professional distance from my employees. I completely agree, but my nature is to be friendly and personal. I come from a division of our company where it is normal and accepted to get together for activities outside of work. It’s one thing that really draws me to the company. But I can see the wisdom in having that professional distance. You can still be friendly and personal, just not too close. All excellent points Dan!

Daniel Witwer said...

I was surprised but grateful for the call to professionalism in language. I worked as an interim warehouse supervisor recently and expletives punctuated most sentences. I wonder if the organizational climate would have been any different with a higher level of professionalism at all levels of the distribution center. My observation was that morale was generally low and I wonder if more professional verbal exchanges, in addition to other management behavior might contribute to a boost in morale.

Vicki Kenyon said...

Cassie - I agree with your comments - great article here. I will say that there is a difference between "being friendly" with employees you manage and "being friends" with them. In my experience, "being friends" never ends well for at least one of the people in the relationship. If you are getting together with folks outside of work, involve the whole team - then it feels less like favoritism to the rest of your crew!

Dan McCarthy said...

Cassie -
Thanks! I think we are pretty close when it comes to the difference between "friendly" and friends.

Daniel -
Thanks! Right, warehouses and shop floors have their own language norms, but that doesn't mean the supervisor has to do it just to be "one of the guys".

Vicki -
Thanks, good advice!

joinmyhomebusiness said...

This is a solid list. The manager has to be the example of what good leadership looks like.