From my experience in the engineering industry, and really the corporate environment in general, I realized that there are two types of managers, I refer to them as managers and LEADERS. There are leaders who care about their co-workers and staff and there are managers who really don’t. Let me explain further.
The leaders, who care about their staff, take the time to express gratitude for the things that their staff does for the company as often as possible. They encourage continuous learning and career development. They go out of their way to be a mentor not just a “manager.” These people are generally very well respected by their staff and others, and their leadership fosters a real TEAM mentality. Their team always seems to be totally engaged and WANTS to work for them. Conflict within their department is usually rare or non-existent.
On the other hand, there are managers who often care only about themselves and the bottom line of the company. Managers say the words ‘Thank You,’ once a week if their employees are lucky. They fail to recognize when their employees go the extra mile, causing a feeling of under-appreciation to permeate through their department. They are constantly putting themselves before the team. They fail to delegate or give their staff opportunities to broaden their horizons, usually due to lack of trust. When one of their staff deserves a raise or promotion, whether the manager thinks they do or not, they fail to “go to bat” for their employee within the company, again thinking how it might affect them.
The difference between managers and leaders may not be as cut and dry as I have described, however if you find yourself doing any of those things I mentioned when describing a manager, start making some changes TODAY! Here are some simple things you can do to start gaining respect from your staff and start to become a leader not just a manager:
- Express gratitude when appropriate by simply saying ‘Thank You’ to your staff on a regular basis, not just when they do something extra-ordinary,
- Similar to the line above, say “Thank You” when your staff finishes a successful project on-time, maybe even take them out to lunch,
- Challenge your staff and help them to broaden their horizons by delegating tasks to them such as client correspondence and meeting attendance. If you don’t trust them yet, or feel you can’t based on past performance, start by giving them smaller tasks so they can gain your trust back.
- Promote as much career development and advancement among your staff while being sensitive to the company’s budget. Promote continued education, certifications, and additional technical training. Your staff will appreciate this and it will foster a sense of loyalty towards you and the organization.
- Fight for your employees within the company when you feel they deserve a raise or promotion. Put them FIRST!
If you start doing some of these things this week, you WILL see a change in the way your TEAM responds to you. If you don’t see a change, DO MORE! It’s time to be the leader that you know you are!
Please feel free to share your experiences with both managers and leaders or share your story on how you crossed over from “manager” to LEADER.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success