Managing people isn’t for everyone, but if taken seriously one question will give you all the answers you need to maximize productivity:
How can I best support you?
Here’s why: support isn’t defined by the giver, but the recipient.
I asked this question in my previous role as Faculty Manager and it did wonders for morale, engagement and performance.
The best workers are self-motivated. As a professional if you need to be externally motivated to do your job, even the greatest perks/benefits won’t make a huge difference.
Once hired in a role (assuming you’re qualified), you need to be trained with the skills to do the job, but when that on-boarding process is complete it’s your turn to soar.
As a manager you don’t need to be smarter than the team you lead. In fact, if you facilitate and support well technical skills are just a bonus.
Support is something you feel. When you are being supported you know it. If you have to think about it, it’s absent.
Your job as a manager is to help your teammates shine. At a deeper level it’s making them look better than you. If there’s too much ego involved as a manager, you’re destined to be in competition with your team rather than holding hands across the finish line.
There’s a simple way to gauge if the workers under your care feel supported: ask them.
Be specific. Ask this: on a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being not at all vs. 10 feeling like a champion rate the amount of support you feel?
In a performance-based world, this approach may sound soft, but that’s exactly why it works.
A manager’s job isn’t to tell their team how to do something, it’s to clarify objectives and remove all the obstacles in their way.
Going back to my “best workers” example, when giving support you also offer respect, care and autonomy. Think about the best boss you’ve had. I highly doubt they rode you like a horse. Instead I guarantee you’ll describe your relationship with them (soft skills).
Management isn’t easy, but it’s also not rocket science. Take the servant leadership approach to managing others and you’ll be amazed at how people’s strengths will rise to the top.