Seven Ways to Prepare Before You Reboot Your Management Style

My mission at RainmakerThinking is to truly empower leaders and managers with strategies that work. In my effort to fight the undermanagement epidemic rampant in today’s workplace, I’ve shared the proven philosophy of highly-engaged leadership with hundreds of leaders in organizations of all shapes and sizes. So many of those leaders get the message: in order to be effective and get results, you must provide ongoing guidance, direction, and support.

But the problem is they feel held back from making a change in their management style: “If I do this, how can I get my employees to take me seriously? I’ve been hands-off for so long that this will seem like a passing fad. How can I convince them that I haven’t just bought into some gimmicky flavor of the month?”

Radically changing your management style is a big responsibility – don’t take it lightly! In order to make a lasting change, you must properly prepare. There are seven steps you should take before rebooting your management style.

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1) Prepare psychologically

Are you ready, willing, and able to commit the time, energy, and effort that it will take to make this change? You are going to be the person who is all about the work, setting up people for success every day, helping every person earn what they need. Make sure you are sure. Expunge any of your own doubt first.


2) Prepare tactically

The biggest impact of committing to highly-engaged management is that you are putting a big chunk of highly-structured time into your daily schedule. Start building the habit in advance: find the one hour a day that works best for you and set it aside very day for two weeks before you actually plunge into managing employees in one-on-one sessions.


3) Gather intelligence on your employees

What are all the things you really should have known all along? What are some things you’ll need to keep in mind going forward? Gather information and start tuning in informally to your employees and their work. You will start to learn who is doing what, where, why, when, and how.


4) Start keeping a People List

This is a running list of all the key people with whom you need to be engaged in a one-on-one dialogue right now. For each of your direct reports, take note:

  • When and where was your last conversation with that person? Regarding what?
  • What should you be talking about with this person?
  • When and where are you going to have your next conversation?
  • What do you need to do to prepare in advance for that conversation?

    5) Consider and research possible methods of tracking employee performance

    If you don’t have a solid method already in place for tracking employee performance, or one in mind, check with your HR folks to request tracking systems used by other teams or departments. The system doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Simplicity is the key to ensuring you really use it going forward. All you need to track, for each direct report, are the expectations you are spelling out and how their concrete actions are lining up with those expectations.


    6) Make a preliminary schedule for your one-on-ones

    When are you going to meet with each person and for how long? If you’ve been using one hour a day to prepare for this change in your management practices, then you are well on your way to making that hour-a-day a management habit. Now you need to decide how to divide that time among your employees.


    7) Prepare your “Good news!” message

    You need to be prepared to discuss the impending management change with key people, including your own boss. Don’t act as if you have been failing as a manager until now. Instead, adopt a simple message: “Good news! I’m very committed to becoming a better manager, stronger and more highly engaged. I’m going to build a regular, ongoing, structured one-on-one dialogue with every person who reports to me.”

    Once you’ve done the necessary preparation, it’s time to go public! Make sure you have that good news conversation with your boss and your team. Get everyone on board and explain what you need from each person to make this new management style a success – for you and for your direct reports.


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