Giving constructive feedback is hard. It's hard because of the story we create in our head.
"The person isn't going to react well to this feedback."
"She won't like me for criticizing her work."
"It will hurt our relationship."
The emotion or stress we feel often gets in the way of taking action to provide feedback. It gets in the way even when we think it's a good thing to do.
One solution is to reframe your perspective. Think about feedback as a gift. It's a gift even if it's negative feedback. It's a gift because you're helping your team member improve. It's a gift because your team member doesn't know how his behavior is creating a negative impact.
Also, imagine what would happen if you don't provide feedback? The negative behavior will continue. So what's the cost of you not giving feedback?
Successful individual contributors (ICs) don’t automatically become great managers.
In sports, the best players aren’t always great coaches (see Wayne Gretzky and Isiah Thomas). However, there are great coaches that were mediocre or average players (see Phil Jackson and Tony La Russa).
Rock star engineers and high performing salespersons get promoted to lead people because that’s the next “logical” step. Organizations often fail or ignore to assess the actual skills and capabilities required to effectively lead others.
Here are the top qualities to look for when considering ICs for People Manager roles
Self Development: They are self-directed in their own development. They seek opportunities to improve their skills and capabilities. They reflect on their actions and intentionally adjust their behaviors.
People Focused: They are willing to give feedback. They provide positive encouragement and tactfully give constructive feedback to their peers. They seek to mentor others. They are able to build trust and rapport with different people.
Results Driven: This is probably one area that’s easy to notice in ICs and the primary reason they get promoted. They produce results so they are rewarded with advancement. It’s a great quality to have but as people managers this should be about inspiring, coaching, and sometimes commanding others to accomplish the team’s goals.
Positivity: Look for behaviors that lift others. Pessimism has a way of sucking the life from a team. Who wants to work for a downer?! You’ll notice pessimism through snide remarks or overt sarcasm.
Other Skills to Consider
- Can communicate a vision
- Able to effectively facilitate discussions
- Listens to other points of view
- Ability to work across teams
What other behaviors would you look for to identify successful people managers?