I'm a big fan of reflecting and writing thoughts down. Every leader can benefit from taking a few minutes weekly, where they remove themselves from their desk and think. Just think about your days, weeks and your people. Writing thoughts down is step one. Executing on those thoughts and sharing them with who they are intended for is step two.
Here are three letters every manager should write at least once a quarter to be a more effective leader.
To a new hire: If you have a new employee starting, write a letter to them that includes what they need to know about reporting to you as their manager, what it takes to be a member of the team, what your expectations are of them, and how to work with you to achieve success. Why waste time having them try to figure it out? Take the guesswork out for them and give them something about the shortcuts so they can hit the ground running. Plus, you'll be less frustrated as a result. You may or may not give this to them, but it can serve as a guide for initial conversations.
To whoever frustrates you most: Write a letter to the person on your team who frustrates you the most. Then share what you wrote with that person! Maybe you don't share the letter, but share your thoughts now that they're on paper. Do they know what frustrates you about their behavior? If they are in a metrics-based role, are they hitting their metrics 80 percent of the time? Are they not taking your suggestions to improve or doing what you ask of them? Do they not follow up with you when you've asked them to? Then think about the last time you sent them resources to improve, had consistent meetings with them, or created a presentation for them about their career. Have you done everything to help them get better? Sometimes it's an accountability tool for yourself!
To your A player: Write a letter to the strongest person on your team. Tell them how you feel about their production, times you've noticed them rise to the occasion, how they've grown in the role, how they have helped train up others on the team, what you've been impressed by. People like to hear what they're doing well! If you want to retain your top producers, share what you've been impressed by. It makes the tough conversations easier because you've recognized their hard work. When you give them praise, they will work harder for you and dig in deeper when things get hard.
Make it a habit to remove yourself from your desk weekly to reflect and plan. You and your team will grow as a result.
If you like this post, follow @TomGimbel for more.