4 Micro-Habits of Successful Managers

How to Bring Out the Best in Your Employees

Successful manager with a winning team

No single action that a person takes makes them a great manager, rather it is a collection of small decisions that makes one successful at managing others. These small decisions are called micro-habits. Micro-habits are small but significant changes to your normal routine that cause your actions to better align with your goals. They can be modified to cater to your specific goals, but they are simple enough that they can be implemented by anyone.

The following 4 micro-habits have been adopted by some of the world’s most successful managers. Try them out for yourself and see what a difference they make to your business!

Benefits of goal setting

1. Communicate Goals, Not Just Tasks

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, ensures to always keep his employees in the loop when it comes to company goals. People are more motivated when they know that they are personally contributing to a common goal. Therefore, Musk knows that it is imperative to let your employees know what they are working towards.

“People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”

— Elon Musk

Managers need to understand the importance of communicating their vision, so that others who are inspired by it can help make it happen.

To ensure that your employees know what their valuable time and effort is contributing to, consider holding big picture meetings on a quarterly basis. These meetings can be used to share new company-wide goals, and explain how each department can contribute to them. Furthermore, when assigning tasks to employees, tell them why you are assigning the task and what you hope it accomplishes rather than just explaining what you want done.

2. Treat Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

Sarah Blakely, Founder of Spanx, has created a culture where her employees are not afraid to fail. Blakely schedules frequent “oops meetings,” during which employees take turns sharing the recent mistakes they have made. These mistakes usually turn into funny stories that colleagues can laugh at. Oops meetings also give employees a chance to reflect on why the mistake was made, and how it can be prevented in the future. This vulnerability and openness surrounding failure creates a safe space for employees to innovate and think outside the box.

“If you can create a culture where [your employees] are not terrified to fail or make a mistake, then they’re going to be highly productive and more innovative”

— Sarah Blakely

Innovative and productive employees are vital to any business, especially startups. This culture of innovation encourages employees to take risks and try new things, because failure is not seen as a horrible, scary potential outcome.

Managers can take mistakes as learning opportunities by scheduling company-wide oops meetings. By addressing mistakes as a group, employees can see that failure is normal and accepted. Furthermore, corrective action following a mistake should be taken after some time has elapsed. This gives the employee in question an opportunity to reflect on the mistake on their own. It also prevents corrective action from being taken when emotions are high, which can cause managers to become excessively punitive, and employees to become defensive. Lastly, managers should be sure to discuss mistakes in performance reviews. Rather than just punishing the employee for their mistake, managers should take as many opportunities as possible to openly discuss the problem. They should ensure that the employee understands that failure is normal, and that their innovation is still applauded.

Benefits of innovation

3. Invest in Long-Term Growth

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, treats his employees as his most valuable asset. He organizes regular training sessions for all employees to motivate them and improve their confidence. He also takes the time to meet and individually speak to employees at all levels of the organization to learn what their experience is like, and what they think should be improved. Learn more about how Branson started a business in a field in which he was not an expert here.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”

— Sir Richard Branson

This approach makes employees feel valued and increases employee loyalty, thus decreasing turnover and reducing costs in the long-run. By investing in the growth of his employees, Branson is ensuring that his employees are able to reach their full potential and provide enhanced value to the firm, while also sticking with the Virgin Group long-term.

Managers can invest in employees’ long-term growth by holding frequent training and development sessions. These can be made most effective by asking employees what they would like to receive further training in, and then developing the skills that they identify. Furthermore, managers should aim to act as mentors, not just bosses. Performance reviews are a great time to ask employees what their long-term professional goals are. Managers should collaborate with employees to develop plans to help them reach their long-term goals, and guide them along the way. Managers should allow space for growth and development so that employees can reach their full potential.

Why invest in employee wellbeing?

4. Don’t Micromanage

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, makes sure to give his employees sufficient autonomy and independence. Micromanagement can decrease employees’ motivation and productivity, because it forces them to work in a way that may not be ideal for them. It also shows them that you do not trust them to do the work that has been assigned to them.

“Hire well, manage little”

— Warren Buffett

By avoiding micromanagement, employees feel that you have confidence in them and their abilities. This motivates them and makes them feel empowered, thus increasing productivity. After all, you hired them, so you should trust them to be able to work independently.

Managers can avoid micromanagement by focusing on outcomes rather than processes. Instead of telling employees how to get a specific task done, just tell them what your expectations are, and allow them to determine the best way to go about it. This increases their confidence, and might lead to your employees discovering a better way to do things. Furthermore, consider implementing a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). ROWE is a condition under which employees do not have to work a set number of hours, or at a set time during the day. Instead, deadlines are emphasized. As long as employees are meeting their deadlines, it does not matter what time or for how long they work. This increases accountability and autonomy, and is a great option for achievement-oriented people. The increased independence afforded by the ROWE allows people working from home to balance household/familial responsibilities as well, and is shown to increase productivity.

By implementing these 4 micro-habits, you can become a more successful manager. These small changes to your professional life can make your employees more motivated, innovative, confident, and productive. This in turn helps your business succeed and reach its full potential.


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