How to Develop Inspiring People Managers

– Words by Anthea Marris of Anthea Marris Consulting.

How important are your line managers to the success of your business?  And how much support and development do you offer them? Are they engaged in your business, and are they motivating and engaging the people who work for them?

At Uplifting Leadership, we know from our experience and from research that employees leave managers more often than they leave organisations – your managers are the people who have the biggest influence on how your employees are performing on a daily basis.  They’ve most likely been promoted to management based on job performance relating to their function specific skills or technical ability, but do all of your managers have the people skills necessary to lead your staff?

We believe that inspiring people managers understand their own effectiveness and impact; they know how to motivate, engage and develop their direct reports; and they understand how to drive higher performance.

If you appreciate the link between growing your people and growing your business, role model the following behaviours and encourage all your people managers to adopt them too.

  1. Understand your Impact

A basic law of human interaction is that YOU impact on everyone you ever meet. As a manager it is important to be aware of the impact you have on the people around you. If you are genuinely upbeat and positive you create a ‘ripple effect’ of positivity in the people you meet (and this in turn transmits to the people they meet).  Ask yourself what kind of ‘ripple effect’ you want to create and choose for it to be positive.

  1. Provide clarity & direction, then get out of the way

Communicate the desired outcome and deadline, rather than the detail of how a task or project should be completed. Then get out of the way and pass the responsibility to your employee, checking they know what is expected, reviewing progress on a regular basis and removing obstacles that get in the way. Also, be available to provide support, coaching and feedback when needed.

  1. Ask open questions

Help employees to solve their own problems by asking them open questions before giving advice. Sometimes all people need is a sounding board. So, the next time you are asked for an opinion or advice respond with “What options have you considered/tried?”.  This will enable your employees to think through the problem themselves and helps build confidence.

  1. Balance positive and negative feedback

It is important to balance negative feedback with positive feedback if you want to keep your employees motivated. Research by Losada and Heapy suggest that the ratio of positive to negative comments is the single most important factor in predicting individual and team performance. High-performing teams have a ratio of six positives to every negative, with medium performance at two to one and low performing teams the other way around at three negatives for every positive. Balance your feedback somewhere between three to six positives for every criticism.

  1. Show you care

So simple, but often forgotten in the busyness of life. Show you care by showing interest in what your employees do outside of work. e.g. Ask “What are your plans for the weekend?”

  1. Focus on Strengths

Discover what is unique about each person in your team and turn their specific talents into performance. When people play to their strengths they become engaged, energised and are more productive. Realising strengths can be the smallest thing that is likely to make the biggest difference to business performance. Talented managers challenge each person to excel in his/her own way and find ways to develop and grow each person. As for weaknesses, they don’t ignore them, they just concentrate on making them good enough.

  1. Know yourself well

This one is a game changer. Inspirational managers know themselves well.  They understand their emotions, their personal strengths and weaknesses, and have a strong sense of their own self-worth. They show a good sense of humour about themselves and their limitations. You cannot motivate others until you truly understand what motivates you.

How self-aware are you?  The journey to great self-awareness never ends. However, it starts by being open to feedback and taking time to reflect and learn from experiences.

  1. Show emotion

Show a little emotion. Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability and recognise that it is only human to sometimes make mistakes.  Stay true to yourself, be authentic and behave in tune with your values. If you embrace an authentic and vulnerable stance, your team will see you as a human being; they may feel closer to you; they may be more likely to share their opinions and consequently become more loyal.

  1. Take the long view

Great managers don’t spend all their time with their heads down focusing in getting work done, they spend time looking further ahead. Make sure you make time for anticipating challenges, negotiating political situations, and creating a road map that pulls together what each employee is working on independently.

Seeing the bigger pictures involves you doing two things well. First, you should have a solid understanding of the needs and goals of your department and the whole organisation. This will help you anticipate what is needed from your team.  Second, you need to understand the individual capabilities of each employee. This will help you allocate workload effectively.

  1. Trust your gut

Trust your instincts. If you feel like a project is going off the rails, don’t wait until it is too late to respond. Many managers avoid confronting an employee who is missing deadlines or struggling in some way because they doubt their instincts or aren’t sure how to address the problem effectively. Rather than wait until the situation grows worse, sit down and have a conversation (holding your position lightly). Make sure you are aware of how people are doing and check in with them regularly. If you think something is off, nip it in the bud, before a small concern becomes a large problem.

Who are Uplifting Leadership?

Uplifting Leadership is owned and run by Anthea Marris and Lesley Thomlinson, who’ve both held senior learning & development positions in large global organisations including Cadbury, Kraft, Sainsburys and NBC Universal.  Anthea also has significant generalist HR experience and Lesley has significant commercial experience – and it’s all used to help support our clients!

We are experienced in design and facilitation of development programmes at all levels and we’ve worked with and for organisations of all shapes and sizes including FMCG, manufacturing, retail, media, utilities, public sector and more.

Perhaps most importantly, we’re both passionate about developing people managers to be the best they can be!

For more information contact Anthea Marris on 07980 859374 or via email at

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