Being a strong leader means striving for continuous improvement.

8 Critical Questions for Managers to Ask Themselves

Being a strong leader means striving for continuous improvement.

Staff Writer

Part of any manager’s evolution is being aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. Honest self-evaluation will help supervisors get the most out of themselves and the team they lead.

Managers should start by asking themselves these 8 questions:

1. What kind of environment are you creating for employees?

Corporate cultures vary and it’s important to think strategically about the climate you’re building. If you raise your eyebrows when someone leaves on time, or you often send emails after-hours, you’re cultivating an atmosphere in which employees feel they have to be available 24-7. On the other hand, if you offer exercise classes, gym memberships, or other perks and encourage people to only work weekends when necessary, you’re communicating you value the overall well-being of your staff. Consider whether you’re setting stress-inducing, unreasonable demands on your team or if you demonstrate you understand their obligations outside of the office.

2. Are you setting the example you want employees to follow?

If you’re a stickler for punctuality, but you regularly stroll in late, employees will notice. You’re the role model for your team, so demonstrate behavior you want to see in your employees. From how you speak, listen and illustrate respect, your actions will set the expectation for those you supervise.

3. Do you understand your employees’ motivations?

Some supervisors would answer this with one word: a paycheck. While there’s truth to this, there are better ways to develop loyalty and inspire higher levels of performance. Every personality values different rewards. For some, recognition is the key; they want acknowledgment for the job they’re doing. Others want tangible rewards, such as a gift card, extra time off or even the primo parking spot for a week. Take the time to understand the employees on your team and adhere to their unique, nonverbal languages.

4. Would employees say you communicate well?

Bear in mind any void of information will ultimately be filled, whether it’s from facts, rumors or speculation. Do you keep them updated on company news so they feel like they’re invested and engaged in the bigger picture, or do you let them arrive at their own conclusions? Do you consistently provide feedback on performance, both positive and constructive?

5. Are you accessible to your employees?

Many managers swear by the philosophy of “management by walking around,” meaning you deliberately make yourself visible to your team. Put yourself in their environment, ask questions and learn what they’re doing in the trenches. Do you verbalize you have an open-door policy, or do employees feel like you’re not available when they need you? Be intentional about letting employees know you’re there for them.

6. Are you encouraging an atmosphere of professional growth?

Companies advance when employees are encouraged to continually learn about the industry and their line of work. Be sure to provide training opportunities and expose employees to new ideas in order to generate considerable returns later on. Demonstrating you care about your employees’ development and success can pay significant rewards in the future.

7. Does your team understand your expectations?

Clearly communicating your goals and vision not only inspires employees, but helps ensure they’re rowing in the direction you want them to go. Clearly define the responsibilities of each employee on the team while describing what success looks like to you so they understand what they’re working toward.

8. Are you letting your team do their job?

Are you letting your team do their job? A manager’s job is similar to conducting a symphony: the leader is there to ensure all the parts come together to create something much bigger. Conductors rely on everyone in the orchestra to do their individual jobs while providing guidance and feedback along the way. You owe it to your team to let them do the job they were hired to do without micromanagement, or failing to delegate accordingly.

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