Three Traits of Effective Managers

Working with Credit Managers for the past 10 years has been such an enriching experience and opportunity for my own professional growth that I want to share some really important, simple management techniques I see used very effectively.

Managing people is by far one of the hardest and most important tasks in any organization.

And as I point out these simple tips, there is really nothing simple about it. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the credit department or any other area in your company—employee results, whether overwhelmingly positive or frighteningly negative, are frequently directly impacted by the person they report up to.

Three very distinctive communication skills the best managers deploy when dealing with their direct reports include:

  1. Great managers know when to stop talking.
  2. Great managers lead with questions, not their version of solutions.
  3. Great managers know how to listen

Point number one – knowing when to stop talking – is very hard to do when you’re the boss, tasked with making sure employees are doing their job the right way, or communicating with customers the right way or a million other examples of the right way. Great managers realize that by “zipping it” they are creating real buy-in and establishing an impactful two-way conversation. Terrific results and important conversations come from becoming the conversational guide, not the one doing all the talking.

Point number two: managing is not about telling, it’s more about asking the right questions and helping employees learn how to train their brains to be effective in their role. They should be learning to think on their own, and what better way to facilitate thinking than by asking questions that lead to productive solutions offered by the person that is working in the trenches. Having an atmosphere of open exchange vs. giving orders creates true employee growth. Meaningful solutions come out of a back-and-forth conversation, not the boss announcing their own version of a solution.

Point number three is by far the hardest skillset to learn. We all listen, are trained to listen, from when we were kids, with the expectation that we’ll quickly give the right response. It’s difficult but very effective to listen with the sole purpose of hearing what’s being said and not with the intent of coming back with the perfect reply. Give 100% attention without any thought of the brilliant idea or reply you will offer up.

Once again, listening in silence and mulling over what was said is effective, rare and meaningful. Listening with this type of focus will allow delivery of a much more powerful reply.

In today’s somewhat chaotic environment, the teams that master employee retention and talent growth create a powerful culture of caring for employees and challenging them at the same time. They ask employees to do things outside of their comfort zone, while giving authority instead of more duties. Use the tips above to train independent thinkers, then watch them bloom. It’s also interesting that the tips above also work very well at home!


Ann Pitts

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