10 tips every manager needs to grow

Manager growth is vital to your organization. We built this recipe to support your managers on their path to better feedback.

Managers are most effective when: 

  • Their methods are supported by the organization
  • They repeatedly revisit action plans
  • They set reasonable goals and measurements for improvement

We’ll explore ten practical tips for managers to support their team’s growth and productivity. Managers can use these strategies to help their reports develop their skills, enhance their careers, and become valuable assets to your organization.

10 tips every manager needs for growth 

If managers can commit to these ten tips, they will be on their way towards improving their own performance and their relationship with their team.

1. Have regular feedback sessions

Regular feedback sessions serve as a cornerstone in nurturing employee growth. These meetings provide a safe platform to bolster manager growth by enabling you to address performance issues, clarify goals, and offer tailored developmental support. They empower your reports to improve and progress in their roles.

Ensure you are using constructive criticism when delivering any form of critical feedback. This means using specific situations to speak to particular points of feedback before explaining its effect and ending with suggestions for improvements.

“Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.” – Ed Batista

Features to use in Small Improvements:

2. Set SMART goals

The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Setting SMART goals for your reports is a powerful mechanism for you to channel their growth aspirations. These goals provide clear direction and purpose, aligning employees’ efforts with meaningful outcomes.

To maximize employee growth using the SMART framework, make sure you set the goals with your report in a collaborative way. You can use 1:1 meetings to set the agenda for discussing goals and regularly update them.

An example of a SMART-goal statement might look like this:

Our goal is to [quantifiable objective] by [timeframe or deadline]. [Key players or teams] will accomplish this goal by [what steps you’ll take to achieve the goal]. Accomplishing this goal will [result or benefit].

Features to utilize: Objectives

3. Give constructive feedback

Constructive feedback is essential for employee growth and development. It involves being clear, specific, and actionable, and it should be delivered in a way that is respectful and supportive.

Instead of relying on the classic ‘’sandwich method’, which can be ineffective, consider exploring alternative approaches that encourage open and constructive dialogues. These approaches allow employees to listen and engage with your feedback.

One of these approaches includes Radical Candor, an approach that highlights the importance of caring personally and challenging directly.

In order to succeed, you have to Challenge Directly. Challenging people is often the best way to show you care. It does not mean that whatever you think is the truth; it means you share your (humble) opinions directly.

Features to use: Anytime Feedback

4. Practice recognition and appreciation

Recognizing and appreciating employees’ efforts and achievements creates a positive atmosphere supportive of growth. It reinforces a sense of value and will likely encourage the positive behaviors to continue.

Try setting up a regular cadence where you recognize your direct reports. Perhaps you want to ensure you are praising your reports every month, perhaps after every project that you complete. Whatever the rhythm, regular appreciation can boost morale on your team.

“People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.” – Dr. Bob Nelson

Features to use: Praise

5. Encourage self-assessment

Self-assessments empower your employees to take ownership of their growth. When employees engage in introspection and evaluate their own performance, they gain valuable insights into their strengths and areas for improvement.

You can guide this process, helping your employees set realistic development targets and chart their own paths to success. One approach is to encourage regular reflection from your team or team members, either in your 1:1 conversations or documented and shared with you.

Importantly, when employees feel heard through the self-evaluation process, they are more likely to listen to feedback from their managers. The appraisal process becomes much more of a two-way discussion when it revolves around regular self-evaluation.

The benefits of self-evaluation

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6. 360-degree feedback

A 360-degree feedback approach goes beyond the traditional top-down evaluation and enriches employee growth. It incorporates input from peers, subordinates, and others who interact with your employee. This comprehensive feedback loop provides a more holistic perspective, enabling you to identify development areas more accurately and help employees improve their interactions and collaboration skills.

Ensure you are digesting all peer feedback appropriately and making time to check in with individuals who share critical feedback about your team.

From Harvard Business Review’s What Makes a 360 Review Successful:

Improving your leadership effectiveness requires behavior change. A 360-feedback process, when done right, greatly increases the chances that change will occur.

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7. Avoid toxic positivity

Toxic positivity is a type of feedback that is overly optimistic or unrealistic. Unchecked, these can actually be harmful to your reports self-confidence and motivation. It can manifest in different ways, such as dismissing negative emotions, ignoring problems, or setting unrealistic expectations.

To avoid toxic positivity in your feedback sessions, remember to be honest, acknowledge negative emotions and challenges, and set realistic expectations.

How can you identify toxic positivity?

Toxic positivity at work might sound like “you’re bringing everyone down,” “you have an amazing job,” “reframe your thinking,” or “good vibes only,” when you’re dealing with a bad day at work. It’s the idea that if someone just smiled more or tried harder, the outcome would be different.

8. Document feedback to fight recency bias

Keeping records of feedback discussions, goals, and progress helps you and your reports track growth over time, making it easier to identify patterns and improvements. Moreover, it ensures a clear and well-documented history of feedback, which can be essential in making informed decisions.

We’d generally recommend documenting in your regular check-ins, with notes visible to your team members so they are also encouraged to document their own feedback or understanding. Keeping a record also leads to less recency bias, improving the chance of fairness and lack of bias when the annual review or a 360 cycle is launched.

Recency bias affects employees and managers alike in the review process. The idea is simple: When people look back at the year and try to take stock, what they remember best — and what they therefore focus on most — is what has happened most recently.

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9. Lead by example

Managers who lead by example exhibit the values and behaviors they expect from their team. Your actions and behaviors can serve as a powerful model for learning and growth.

By embodying these qualities, you can inspire employees to follow a similar mindset and approach to personal and professional development. So ask yourself, how often are you meeting with your own manager, how often are you getting feedback about your own growth and development? Practicing these habits makes them more ingrained in your day to day life.

As famed philosopher and physician Albert Schweitzer once put it, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing.”

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10. Continuous improvement

Finally, remember that feedback processes should be dynamic. They should evolve over time based on the feedback you receive from their team and the changing needs of your reports.

Continuously assess and adapt your approach to ensure it remains effective in supporting your employee’s growth. You can send regular feedback requests or have face to face conversations about your approach in your 1:1 meetings. The point is to regularly be checking in on your methods of feedback and how they are landing with your team.

Making ongoing improvement in performance, commitment, strategy, and process all help build up the company’s bottom line.

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Share meaningful feedback with Small Improvements 

By following these ten tips, you will be better equipped to guide your team toward their full potential. Remember, creating a culture of feedback on your team doesn’t need to be complicated or intimidating. It’s about building an environment of open, honest, and productive communication where every member has the opportunity to thrive.

Transforming feedback into action isn’t something you’ll achieve overnight, but it is something you can start doing today. Small Improvements offers a toolbox to collect, analyze, and act on employee feedback. Check out the following features, and use our advanced analytics to create meaningful action plans based on data:

  • 360 Feedback: Gather a wide variety of feedback from relevant people who interact with your employees. Configure anonymity settings, generate reports, and manage the reviewer approval process from a central dashboard. 
  • Goals and Objectives: Use performance feedback as the foundation for development. Set individual goals, but gain visibility of what your team members are working towards too. This transparency makes it easier for the entire company to align in pursuit of success. 
  • Feedback Requests: Put employees in the driving seat of their development by empowering them to request feedback at the end of a project, following training, or any time they want to learn and grow on the job. 

Ready to empower your employees with rich, actionable feedback? Book a free Small Improvements demo today.