Ask Your Department Managers What’s Important To Them – Then Provide It

This post may be a bit different than the others featured here. Instead of looking at systems and processes (our usual area of expertise), we’re looking at some specific interactions in the workplace. Instead of focusing on the way the workforce interacts with technology or standardized practices, let’s examine a dynamic that can make or break a working environment: managerial expectations.

Let’s first assume that the managers and department heads we’re discussing are good at their jobs, have the company’s best interest in mind, and so on. Dealing with uninformed, untrained, or otherwise “bad” management is another can of worms entirely!

So, barring those kinds of problematic situations, managers have their jobs for a good reason. Whether it’s experience, special training, personality traits, or a combination of all three, they’ve taken these leadership roles because they have a broad understanding of company operations, and a vision for getting there.

To make these visions a reality, though, managers and their teams need to communicate. On one hand, this communication happens from “the top down” – managers create plans and voice their expectations, dolling out information in meetings, emails, memos, and the like. This transfer of information is much like larger company policies or compliance standards – it’s readily available, and certainly important, but also impersonal. Even if a manager’s plans are put into place, the people working under them don’t necessarily connect the dots between the plan, their individual actions, and the overall success of the organization.

This can happen in the opposite direction as well. A manager takes a position with idea about streamlining an operation or developing new methods, but their plans are stifled by lack of executive support (whether that’s the freedom to pursue initiatives, or actual support for expenses, equipment, new training, etc.).

From both of these angles, managers and department leaders struggle to implement their ideas, and in many cases, struggle to keep normal operations functioning day to day.

The good news, however, is that the solution to this common issue is the same from both sides – and it all comes down to asking the right questions. For executives, it means asking open-ended questions and paying close attention to the response from management. They will tell you the tools they need to succeed, where they are encountering roadblocks, the frustrations they face, and most importantly, how you can help. Listen to them!

The same is true for staff working under management. Through direct communication, people can ask their managers exactly what is needed to implement a vision, and receive personalized ideas about what a manger truly needs. This could be action, attitude, delegating responsibility, and so on.

Managers are going to have different styles, ideas, strengths, and needs. By communicating with them about what’s most important to them, and what they need to succeed, those on both sides of the organizational structure can help empower them to drive the company’s success.

Managers and department heads are the connection between those in the boardroom and the “boots on the ground.” Helping them achieve goals and implement ideas is critical to the success of any large business – so everyone in the organization should be doing what they can to empower them!

Ask questions and pay close attention to the answers, no matter what role you hold in the company.

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