When employees are asked to describe their biggest complaints about the workplace, one of the most common answers is this, lack of clear direction. Perhaps the team leader is nice, charismatic, encouraging, and/or inspirational, but can’t articulate the strategy for this quarter. 

That’s a problem!

Teams certainly benefit from motivational input, but they can’t reach goals without direction, a framework and a defined process to get them there. Taking on the role of manager makes that happen. It’s the methodical, organized side of leadership that develops executable strategies that actively move your team towards success. 

Let’s look at five ways to embrace your role as a manager. 

  1. Provide the context by identifying a vision, which includes culture, purpose, mission, strategies & goals. Help your team understand how their contributions today support the organization’s larger goals. Does their work directly improve product quality, increase customer satisfaction, shorten time to market? Employees will feel more engaged and committed if you can clearly demonstrate why their jobs matter and how they’re connected to the bigger vision. 
  2. Set the agenda for your team. Good managers know how to develop a detailed roadmap for projects. This should come from the vision process. It establishes direction and essentially gives you a step by step of how you will get there and the expectations along the way. This doesn’t mean they’re inflexible, in fact you should be agile and iterative. There are likely multiple ways to get to the destination and some roadblocks are inevitable. Great managers trust their teams to navigate the journey using the overall framework they’ve established. 
  3. Make it measurable. Be sure your team members understand how their success will be measured and have the tools in place to evaluate their progress. It might be calculated in terms of monthly sales, number of customer contacts each week, reduction in complaint calls, whatever it is, make it quantifiable so everyone knows how to glance at the board and instantly know the score of the game. Set thresholds for success; what does success look like if they got to 70%, 100%, 110% of the goal. All thresholds are a measure of success.
  4. Monitor the process. Pay attention to how things are getting done. This is coming from a different angle than measuring results and it’s not about micromanaging work. Good managers maintain a sense of awareness about the process and approaches being used to reach established goals. The intent here isn’t to stifle innovation or create a rigid rule-following environment, but the company probably has some guidelines in place that ensure protocol, protect against risk, and most importantly uphold company’s values. 
  5. Hold your team accountable for reaching their goals. Your job as a manager is to make sure that they deliver according to the performance system you’ve established. Did they achieve their objectives? How is the quality? Are projects coming in on time and on budget? If something goes wrong along the way, by all means explore the problem. But don’t forget that as a manager, the ultimate responsibility lands with you. 

The good news is you’ll feel confident in accepting that responsibility when you’ve prepared your team well. Clearly define their goals and action plans. Give them the resources they need and support them along the way. When you succeed in the role of leader as manager, you provide the strategic direction that drives your team to deliver outstanding results.