How To Become A More Credible Manager

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Hi, welcome to this lesson, how to develop your personal credibility as a manager. I’m Scott Watson and I’ll be sharing this lesson with you. The first thing you need to be aware of in terms of developing your credibility is it’s not just about what you know. It’s not just about your technical competence or technical expertise, what you know about a subject, a product, a service or a system. It needs to be partnered with who you are as a person, what you like to work with, how supportive or encouraging you are, how enabling you are rather than disabling which many of the managers that are in the top one percent are actually disablers of good performance rather than enablers of outstanding performance.

Let’s share a few thoughts about developing personal credibility. Please do prick up your ears and think about how this information really relate to you or could relate to you as you move towards becoming an outstanding manager that don’t just deliver the targets, the goals, the quality and the outcomes but actually helps people want to do it with you through personal choice rather than obligation of working for the manager.

First things first. You are a manager, whatever level, whether it’s your first time as a manager, whether you’re an established manager, whatever level. You became a manager for some reason. May be it was the opportunity to grow your career, to develop certain skills and credibility even or expand your sphere of influence within an organisation or position yourself for future opportunities either with your existing organisation or another organisation. What do you think is the reason you were chose to be the manager? Why were you successful in achieving that role, being allocated, being awarded that role rather than any other applicant or applicants that applied?

Do you think you know the answer? What is it? Could it be, I was the best person for the job? Could it be, well, I delivered the results that the organisation required of me previously so I was positioned to get the job. Could it be if you’re from an external organisation and you’re joining this organisation as a manager, your CV was fantastic. Whatever the answer you give please bear in mind you may not truly understand or be aware of the reason you were actually chosen by the recruiter or the recruiting panel.

We’ve seen it so many times where managers get appointed to a role and all is fantastic for a couple of weeks or a couple of months and that’s the settle in period but after that things can start to dip a little bit. Encouraging your team can start to take second place over getting the job done, speaking truth to your boss can take a backseat because you think it’s best to keep quiet and just get on with things rather than speak your truth and get things that working as well as they can do. There is a lot of other reasons.

Think of it this way, you were chosen for some reason that you may not understand and this, getting an answer to this question, why were you chosen is one of the first and most important thing you should be doing to develop you personal credibility. You may think you were recruited for one thing or appointed for one specific reason but you may not be aware that they may have recruited you because you have certain experience, a certain track record of delivering excellent results or a track record of having great references that people say yes.

You did get the result but you actually had an atmosphere in your team that encouraged people, enabled people, supported people to do their best. It may be a track record of hitting results. You may have expertise of turning around under-performing teams, you may have expertise and experience of getting good teams to perform brilliantly. You could have a specific competence that is very much in demand but a few people have it. It could be your personality. The personality that you demonstrated during the interview or if it’s the same organisation you’ve been promoted in or want to be promoted in, it may be how you behave and act and communicate and collaborate on a daily basis.

It could be anything. It could be specific knowledge or aspiration that you have as well. Now, one thing to do really early on even if you’ve been in your position for two, three months or even two or three years, it doesn’t matter that ask your manager or whoever recruited you, “Just so I can be clear on my personal development, could you help me understand, what was the main reason you chose me for this role?” Just so I understand for my own personal development could you tell me what was it that got you to choose me over the other applicants? Then go quiet.

Now, if you’re thinking, my goodness this is only the first recommendation that Scott has made and he’s already sounding a little bit cheesy, a little bit touchy-feely, forget it, relax. Managers and recruiters rarely get asked this question but they tend to really appreciate it when they are. You don’t want to go to your management career on guesswork if you want to move towards and eventually be part of the top one percent who consistently perform optimally. You get the teams to perform at only their best consistently. Take out the guesswork, ask the question.

If your manager or the recruiter says, “Well, it was, you demonstrated certain track record of achieving excellent results even during turbulent times within an organisation.” Your next question is, and what did that tell you? What did that say to you as a recruiter? They may come back and say, “Well, there are very few people who can really maintain or improve performance and efficiencies in quality and productivity and keep the team engaged during such turbulence but you appear to have done it and we really like that.”

There is two things you’ve learned. Taking out the guesswork of why you were recruited and also stepping into the recruiter’s bubble to understand and see from their perspective how they perceive you, how they rated you when they were making a decision that could go really well or could go badly wrong. A recruiter’s biggest fear is making a bad hire. That’s the first thing, understand why you were recruited.

The second step is setting clear permissions in the relationship with your boss and with your team. Setting clear permissions. Now this isn’t again touchy-feely. It’s very humane and human in terms of its emotional intelligence. It’s you saying, “Look Mr or Mrs boss, I want to add as much value as I can to you and for my team and for the organization. In order to do that can we just set some boundaries and some expectations of how we’ll work with each other, how we’ll support each other to really achieve or exceed the targets and achieve the goals that we’ve been set?

Also it’s important Mr or Mrs Boss we’re going to have a crossword eventually. We’re going to disagree on something at some point. I wonder if we could have a chat about how we deal with that.” This would usually get the boss on the receiving end of this looking like rabbit in the headlights. They wonder what the heck is going on here. Has he or she been on a course? What’s happening? Have they read a book? Pretty because people don’t tend to speak to their boss like this. The don’t get that clarity. They don’t get that context in which they can disagree for ten minutes but the relationship is still strong.

Where they can conscientiously object to a recommendation, a decision but then is explored in more detail. This is what will separate you apart from the ninety nine percent of managers who drift and when they do hit the targets it seems to be more by accident than planning. Setting clear expectations with your boss. This could be, if I have a concern about a deadline or a project or an idea on how to improve something, would you be happy for me to share them with you. The answer you’re going to get of course is yes. If you’re sharing a concern it doesn’t mean you won’t turn up with a solution.

It’s important to say, if I have a concern I will bring a solution to you as well but I just want to ensure we collaborate rather than only meet when something’s gone wrong. This is a fantastic way of building trust and we will explore trust in a moment. Another way to set clear permissions in the relationship with your boss is, would you be happy for me to speak my truth to you if there’s something sensitive that is taking place? Often, not always but often, managers don’t speak their truth to the person in power. They just do as the person in authority actually says they should do. They comply on autopilot rather than have a dialogue.

Now this is really important if you are being pushed to deliver multiple projects with conflicting deadlines and very few or adequate resources. Many managers will say, “Yeah I’ll do it, I’ll do it, I’ll do it” and they do lots of bits of everything but what really needs to be delivered in terms of quality of output and the integrity of the information is rarely delivered because the manager is trying to juggle all of these different projects. There will come a time where there’s so much for you to do you reach a threshold in terms of entering a stressful state. Your brain can’t operate effectively or optimally if you’re stressed.

Your team will pick up on it. The emotional climate within the team will change and it will get cooler and then colder if you start becoming stressed on a consistent or regular basis. What it is Mr or Mrs manager, if there are conflicting deadlines, if there’s multiple projects to be delivered, could we have a chat about what needs to be re-prioritised or reallocated just so I can do my best for you.

The important thing to say here is, just so I can do my best for you. It doesn’t come across as a mourner grown or a complaint, it comes across as a very integrity based willingness and desire to contribute to the success of your team, your manager and your organisation. Because do remember, if things go badly wrong it will reflect on your manager as well and he or she won’t really appreciate that if or when it happens.

The next step is to build high trust, low maintenance relationships. Build high trust, low maintenance relationships. Do you have people that you really like being around at work that you enjoy working with, either it’s very collaborative, is very supportive, very transparent? I hope you do. Do you also have people that you really don’t enjoy being around? You’ll do anything you can reasonably to avoid being in their presence or being in that meeting with them or even having to listen to them. I know it’s happened with me in years gone by. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Well, it does deserve attention though is building high trust relationships. You going first and basing these high trust relationships on your personal character as well as your technical competence or expertise. Think of it this way. Have you ever worked with someone that is technically competent or even technically excellent but you just couldn’t get along with them?

Their character seems to be a little bit wishy-washy, wasn’t consistent and you just didn’t want them. That is dangerous. On the other side, have you ever worked with someone that was wonderful to be around, really good company, very supportive, very collaborative and made all the right noises but just didn’t deliver on their commitments? They said they’d do something and they didn’t do it. That is just as dangerous.

What needs to be developed to be joining the top one percent of managers is technical competence is a given. Either you currently possess it or you are learning new skills, new competences to develop that in a structured manner. Also it needs to be partnered with if you say you’re going to do something, please do it. Don’t over-commit then under-deliver. Say what you can do reasonably safely and then do it. Or if you find you’ve committed to something whether it’s for your boss, a stakeholder, a member of your team or an external partner or a customer. If you say you can do something, do it but if you can’t let them know as soon as you possibly can.

People tend to be more understanding and forgiving when people break a commitment but tell them early and then put something else in place to keep them on track. Personal character, are you a good person to be around? Do your team members, all, not just some, all, feel supported by you? Do they know that if they come to you for help or assistance you’ll give it to them? Do they know that you’re going to be coaching them in a structured manner every week or so, or every two weeks? Do they have some certainty that you are there and that you have a vested interest in supporting them to enjoy their work as best they can and deliver what your organisation and you are expecting?

If they don’t currently have that, you’re losing credibility. This is really easy to put in place to develop your credibility in terms of, as you’d sit down with your boss and say, “Look boss, if you want me to do something and I think it can’t be achieved in the deadline you’ve allocated I trust you’ll let me speak with you about it so we can reallocate or re-prioritise.” The answer you’ll get is yes. Also with your team, say up front. Dare to be a little bit vulnerable. Look team members, if there maybe things that you expect of me that I’m not currently providing you with.

If that’s the case would you speak to me individually so I can understand? There maybe things that I can deliver but if there’s something that I can and it supports you and it supports me and it supports our team I’d be happy to do so as best I can. Would you be good enough to do that for me? Now, if you say that or announce that to your group you’ll have people staring at you and then just staring at each other thinking my goodness, what’s happening here? Again, as long as you keep your commitments, don’t over-commit and under-deliver, don’t say you can if you can’t, don’t say you will if you won’t.