Lesson for an Aspiring Manager

I’m at this stage of my career where the next step is management. It’s an important step in a career that brings both a feeling of excitement and challenges.

Perhaps you’re also in the same situation or you’re aspiring to become a manager one day. And so I will share a valuable lesson that I learned (or relearned) today while having discussion with my manager.

This lesson is not specific to the world of Data Science and can be used in any industry.

Minimize Input-Output, Maximize Performancelistening to your employee

You surely noticed that you’re the center of attention when you are having a discussion with your manager. You have a problem to solve, and your manager is here to guide you to the solution. Some managers will force the solution down your throat, but let’s put them aside for now.

As a manager, your goal is to lower your output (you talking) and increase the input of your employee (him talking). You need to figure out the good ratio for your context, but a good example is you talking 20% of the time, and your employee 80% of the time.

Here are a couple of reasons to make your employee talk:

  • You’ll be aware of his true workload
  • You can help him with his projects
  • You can hear his concerns before its too late
  • It will build trust in your relationship
  • It will show that you care
  • He will listen back when you talk

Don’t forget to guide the discussion though as you should remain focused on maximizing his performance. If you start talking about the weather for too long you might want to refocus the discussion on work.

Are you wondering how you can make an employee open up and talk to more?

Ask Questions

manager asking questions.jpg

My manager is a professional at asking questions. What’s strange is that he uses mostly only 2 questions:

  1. What do you want to talk about?
  2. What else do you want to talk about?

It’s funny how he gets me every time with that question. As soon as he asks me “What do you want to talk about?” I start talking and won’t shut up for at least 2 minutes.

It’s simple but brilliant. He can then ask me 1-2 follow up questions to guide me to a solution. Often, I will get to the conclusion myself, even though he guided me there. That’s what makes that strategy so powerful.

This Lesson Works for Colleagues too

You don’t have to be a manager to use this strategy to your advantage. When a colleague comes to you with a problem, instead of always giving him a quick answer try to ask him questions and guide him to the answer.

Not only will your colleagues appreciate your help, but they will feel good and proud about it. This will generate respect and appreciation towards you.

Conclusion

Next time you’re in a meeting with your employees or other stakeholders, think about your input-output ratio! Try talking less and asking more questions. You’ll notice that people will open up and start giving you information.

It puts you in a great position to show leadership by guiding them to a solution.

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