Managing people is one of the hardest jobs there is. There’s a reason that 68% of managers confessed they don’t like being managers (Berrett-Koehler 2011). When I had a dozen high performing sales people working for me, I ‘d often ask if they wanted to move into management. Of the 12, only 2 said yes. But there are ways to make the job not only easier, but fun. Here’s how:
1. Get to know your team. Hiding in your office makes a lonely job even lonelier. Make it a point to have at least one personal conversation a day with someone on your team. Make sure it’s not the same person. You don’ need to get ultra personal. Just ask how it’s going. Ask about their kids, new home, or whatever hobbies or interests they may have. Having this kind of dialogue creates a connection that makes your job a whole lot more fulfilling. The added benefit is that employees who feel they’re known and not invisible are more engaged.
2. Join your team for lunch. My old team would go out to lunch every Friday. Whenever I could, I would join them. You might think “the boss” being there might put them off, but they enjoyed the opportunity to have a conversation outside the office. There was a certain acceptance that if they wanted to bitch about something, they could do it in this safe environment. I wouldn’t; judge, I’d listen and share my thoughts. We’d also talk sports, TV, movies and books. I wish I could have gone every week, but it was great when I made it.
3. Invest in yourself. Sometimes just the daily grind of deadlines, complaints, performance issues and your own distant boss can wear you down. So find a way to escape the grind by learning something new. Sign up for an internal or external seminar or class you’ve always wanted to take. Those one-day workshops can be a great way to learn and have fun. Challenge yourself to learn something new about your industry, the competition or your products.
4. Become a mentor. Reach out to your peers and see if they have anyone on their team that needs a mentor. Sometimes taking an interest in someone outside your area of responsibility is all you need to get re-energized. Set up regular contact and find ways to help him or her navigate their career. Mentoring is not only rewarding, it’s fun!
I know how hard it is to manage the day-to-day activities of an office. But if you start having more fun, your team will have more fun. And that’s a key element in employee engagement and retention.