Self-assessment in 2018: Be a better manager this year

Self-assessmentThe start of a new year signals performance review season at many companies.

Regardless of whether the protocol at your employer includes self-evaluation, annual review season is a time all managers should leverage to conduct their own self-assessment.

In fact, pondering just three questions can help you evaluate how far you’ve come as a manager, identify what obstacles still remain in your path, and reveal whether your actions align with your managerial mission.

1. What events challenged me the most as a leader in 2017?

Being a manager requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. You couple professional know-how with credibility with likability. You must empower others to be accountable and inspired yet maintain a sense of authority and decisiveness.

The degree to which these traits are valued and effective depends on the audience—which is a changing cast of characters. It’s a challenging balancing act, even for seasoned managers who are skilled in interpersonal relationships and organizational dynamics.

Yet, as leadership expert Ron Carucci explains in Harvard Business Review, the best leaders have a well-formulated, intimate understanding of who they are emotionally. They know how that impacts their managerial actions and decisions.

Placing task-related performance and outcomes aside, consider three work-related events or initiatives that caused you the most stress, anxiety, frustration or doubt in the last year. Make a list of the reasons they were so personally, professionally and emotionally challenging.

When you’re honest about the skills you possess, the situations you handle well, and which cause you angst, you’re equipped to use your peers and team to support your strengths, as well as shortcomings—just as you do theirs.

When you do, you’re poised to build the trust, transparency and accountability that is key to inspiring others to bring their best selves to the task at hand.

2. What stress did I inappropri­ately reveal at work?

When workplace stress is high, everyone senses the tension. Unfortunately, managers must often conceal the reality of what is happening behind the scenes, for the sake of the team.

As a result, stress and tension can seep through in a host of ways including snappy emails, lack of attention to employees’ needs, and visible stress. You are a human first, manager second. You’ll have emotions about workplace issues.

The successful leader, however, takes the time to recognize what events caused stress, and how it could have been channeled more appropriately to change such situations moving forward.

Consider events you wish you’d handled differently. Did you lose your temper with your administrative assistant more than you care to admit? Examine why—and what that reveals about opportunities to adjust your style. Perhaps you could delegate more, communicate differently, or relax your expectations about how something “should” be done, in order for it to be considered “right.”

Reflecting on these types of situations can feel uncomfortable, but can also reveal plenty of lessons you can use to become a better manager, and improve your understanding of how to best work with your team.

3. Do I still adhere to my core principles?

Management is complicated: You’re taking direction and giving it. You’re a leader, but your potential to drive decisions and outcomes can be constrained by politics across the organization.

It’s natural to get too tired to fight the battle at times—but that approach won’t make you the manager you aspire to be. If you feel like you’ve lost sight of your core principles and motivations that attracted you to your industry, profession, or to management, the new year is the perfect time to revisit them.

Write your personal mission statement as it stands today, based on what you know now. As you face challenges and obstacles in the year to come, it can remind you why you chose to be a manager—and the impact you want to make as one.