by Michael Holland    

Sometimes you have to go back to square one of your management training and practice the basics.

Sports coaches know well that players must keep their basic skills fully in tune.  Pro football coaches bring their guys back to the line again and again during practices to run the same play over and over again.  College soccer coaches run their players through foot skills over and over.  They know that building the instinctual behaviors for excellent play requires repetition to build the muscle memory in the brain and those muscles need to be exercised often.   They practice like they play.

In your big, bad leadership role how often are you coming back to the line to remind yourself of and practice the basics of supervision and management?

  • Earn The Right To LeadYour authority to lead comes from the depth of the trusted relationships you build AND MAINTAIN with your employees.  Your nifty title will sound great at that college alumni event but won’t do you much good in developing a following among your employees.  Drop the entitlement facade and get in the trenches with your employees so you can create real communication opportunities.  Make sure you’re not using any of these fear-based parenting type comments.
    • Because I said so.
    • You report to me, therefore. . . .
    • I’m the “insert title here” and. . .
    • You have to do what I tell you to do.
  • Don’t Delegate and Disappear — While delegation is a strong and effective way to manage, delegating without follow up, not providing adequate direction and not keeping track of an individual’s progress creates feelings of resentment, being ignored, and being disconnected.  Re-calibrate your cadence of touch with your employees so that you can gain clarity on their workload and their perception of your support.
  • Movie Reviews of Performance — Employees need consistent feedback both positive and critical.  They need minor tweaks or adjustments for corrective feedback and reinforcement of the minor positive behaviors so that they know what is expected.  Feedback has a short shelf life.  Consider using the 10 second movie review theme to capture and provide feedback to each of your employees.  Employees really don’t want the yearly 8 page performance review book thrown at them.  They do want to know where they stand day-to-day/week-to-week and be able to anticipate your behavior in any situation.

Experience shows us that just going through the motions of management is terribly transparent to those that matter most.  And the more elevated your role in the organization the more significant the impact from the gap between real management and going through the motions.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What do you do to keep your management skills in shape?  Are you practicing like you play?
  • Think of a time when your “muscle memory” of leadership skills failed you. What did you do to resolve the issue? Do you think you could have avoided the issue if you’d had more practice with the basics of supervision and management?