3 things great managers tell their teams

As a manager, in many ways you’re on a stage; your staff members pay a lot of attention to what you say and do and your words carry enormous weight.

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about three things that great managers say to their teams – and which will probably help you get better results from yours. You can read it here.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. MAB

    I try and do all three of those things daily. I recently got a new team that had a manager who didn’t trust them to do their jobs. Needless to say I get surprised looks when I ask my employees “what is your idea on this?” or “great I like that idea lets do it.” I can’t fathom how the team functioned without that trust in his team. They are quite good at what they do. Hopefully my team will grow into their responsibilities and independence.

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  2. Lily in NYC

    Alison, can you please introduce me to the guy in the pink shirt in the stock photo? I’ll be sure to invite you and all of the commenters to our wedding!

    Reply
      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Now I’m brainstorming meme-y things he’d be saying, like “Girl, I totally believe in equal pay for equal work” or “Girl, it’s such a bummer that we don’t have more comfortable chairs in the lactation room.”

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      1. Bowserkitty

        Same…I didn’t pay it much attention until it was pointed out. Had a nice “helloooooo nurse” moment.

        Because I am 11.

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    1. Development Professional

      I….. must be really excited about getting married this summer, because I didn’t even notice that guy until you all pointed him out! Jeez!

      Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        Oh c’mon. I find plenty of different people appealing. Sure, photo guy is hot, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find other types attractive. I also have the hots for John Oliver, who isn’t exactly leading-man material. And I had a weird crush on Frank Perdue when he was alive. I assume many hetero men are the same way.

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    2. Kvaren

      Short Hair Lady is so attracted to him that her mind has basically shut down. She has no idea what any of the people in that photo are effing saying right now.

      Reply
  3. Guava

    #2 – Yeah! It’s a nice way to touch base too.

    It always seems like managers ask this question too late. The person or team is already drowning when the manager bothers to ask this.

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      1. NJ Anon

        This is a problem for some staff. I tell them it’s ok to say no to new projects and to let me know when they need assistance. It is not a sign of weakness and I would rather know now then later.

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    1. Stranger than fiction

      Ha, so true. My managers asked me this when I was still pretty new and had a mini meltdown one day. They hadn’t realized that their managers were asking me to do a bunch of stuff too. They shut that down real quick and now the uppers go through them first if they need something.

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    2. Fish Microwaver

      Doesn’t happen to me at work. I can be absolutely swamped and I get more assignment. The weak drama llamas get the weight taken of their backs though.

      Reply
  4. Not an IT Guy

    #3 – This is a great thing to say…as long as you don’t have a history of constantly disregarding your employees. You can’t expect someone to contribute if all you say to them are things like “keep your mouth shut” and “know your place”.

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    1. fposte

      Though managers who only say “keep your mouth shut” and “know your place” seem unlikely to regularly ask “what do you think?”

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      1. Windchime

        Managers where I work have managed to find that sweet spot between “your idea is incredibly stupid” and “why don’t you ever offer up any ideas”. Sometimes in the same meeting.

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        1. starsaphire

          Oooo, I’ve been in that meeting. The CEO kept saying, “Anyone have any questions?” and as soon as someone asked one, he’d shoot them down with the snarkiest reply in the most mocking voice possible, then ask again for more questions.

          It was not fun. We all figured out by Question 3 that he did not, in fact, want questions, at all.

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  5. Mockingjay

    #3: I wish our team leads on nightmare project would be more open to asking staff for solutions. Right now our project has several large bottlenecks, and the managers and team leads are going in circles trying to fix them. Several of us have seen similar issues on previous projects, and tried to proffer solutions – things that actually succeeded. These fixes would give them 95% of what they want, plus simplify our IT infrastructure by expanding an existing system rather than build a new one. Nope. The Powers That Be have their minds fixated on building a brand new database. It’s been three years in the making and has failed three launches.

    We’ve stopped offering.

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  6. Stranger than fiction

    #1 is like my dream. We so seldom get asked for ideas and the rare opportunity I get to bring one up its always shot down immediately with some lame excuse like they tried it before (a million years ago with someone who no longer works here) or my favorite: the salespeople can’t fit any more (useful ) info into their heads (that might make them sell more) they just need to focus on (their same old routine or they just might implode) dialing that phone…

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  7. Student

    Any good suggestions on how to bring #2 up with a project manager when it’s not being asked?

    We keep chasing the latest fancy nice-to-have, while core product features go unimplemented. I have no idea how to turn this around and say, “Look, I agree that a fancy flower-painted spout would really be nice to have, but our teapot needs a handle first guys. We can’t keep pushing the handle design to the back-burner and expect to have a finished teapot by the end of this project.”

    Reply
  8. Tomato Frog

    I love this post! My last boss treated her employees as her collaborators. Even though I was just working part time on a small piece of a big project, I felt real ownership of my piece and we came up with good solutions to problems. On the other hand, at my current job, I’m constantly surprised at my bosses’ unwillingness to treat their experienced, highly educated, intelligent, and passionate employees as a resource for improving our product.

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  9. Katie the Fed

    Before I’ve instituted any major changes, I’ve always solicited the team’s input. Like “I’m thinking of doing X, but since it’ll affect all of you more than me, I want to know what you think and what other ideas you might have.”

    In some cases I’ve gone forward, in others I’ve rolled forward with some adjustments, but it’s ALWAY been useful. And I explain clearly to the team why I’m doing what I’m doing. They may or may not agree, but they were at least heard.

    Reply
  10. babblemouth

    “What aren’t you getting done?”

    Yes, yes, yes. A safe space to explain the things that are sliding by while we’re so busy on that “number one top priority project” is the best way to flag problems way ahead of time.

    My boss does that. He’s great.

    Reply

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