Each public service manager has a different idea of what their role is – they may see themselves as process managers, people managers, change leaders, budget managers, statistics managers etc. What I didn’t realize before starting my first managerial position was how much the role of a manager equals teacher. Being the child of a teacher, this was a startling revelation. That’s not to say that all managers are teachers, but rather that the public service is better off if they are.
If you’ve worked with a number of managers in your career, I hope you’ve had a good number of managers that have been teachers. I was fortunate to have a number of managers who acted as teachers with significant time invested in developing each member of their staff, finding learning opportunities, connecting them with resources and helping them grow and build their careers.
Here are the top five ways you can embrace your managerial role and be a teacher to your staff:
- Share your contacts – you can be similar to a guidance counselor for your staff members by connecting with them to people who would be good fits as mentors, and areas that they may want to work in. Helping them connect with these individuals will make a huge difference and will help them build their own networks, and share their contacts in the future.
- Listen – invest time in 1-on-1 meetings and get to know your team members including how they work, how they learn, what interests them, what drives them and how can you best communicate with them. Every minute you invest with your staff will pay off in the long term.
- Share your experience – you have years of experience in your role, in your organization and in the public service. Sharing this experience while understanding that your team members will forge their own path can help them draw on your experience and find ways to apply it to their situations going forward.
- Celebrate departures – when a staff member is promoted from your section you should see this as a positive. Whether they were there for 6 months or 6 years, your time working with them, developing them and supporting them can be crucial to their future career success.
- Prioritize learning – as managers we can get caught up in the importance of the tasks at hand for both ourselves and our staff, but we need to make sure that we create an environment of continuous learning and continuous development. Each hour spent on learning activities will help your staff member develop their career for the long term, and see beyond their current role. Many learning opportunities are free and all you need to do is allow time for your staff members to participate. Your commitment to learning will show your staff members that you care about their careers in the short and long term.
If you’d like to check out a short video on how a Manager = Teacher, check out part 3 of the Lessons for Emerging Leaders Series for some tips & tricks!