25 Tips for Managing a Direct Report
In the corporate hierarchy, a direct report is a person who reports or answers to the manager directly above him or her, with no levels of management in between. These hierarchies are created to allow for a clean flow of information in an organization and to help managers give directives in a systematic manner from the top management to the bottom level.
In the nonprofit universe, many managers are responsible for multiple tasks, including management of numerous employees and fundraising. Many studies note that a person's job satisfaction is directly linked to his or her relationship with the immediate boss.
I have worked for seven bosses at four universities, two health care systems and a social-service agency. These bosses had multiple functions, various experience levels and different styles of motivation. Their management styles varied from one extreme to another.
Whether by accident or fate, I did have one perfect-fit manager whose style was an exact match to my style of management. In that environment, I was able to thrive, not just survive. I totally respected that boss and tried to learn management techniques from him.
As a manager myself, I have tried to learn from my mistakes when dealing with my direct reports. I first look for self-motivation and personal pride. I try to know each person's needs and wants, plus personal goals and objectives. I try to determine if he or she will be a team player or is looking for an individual MVP award. I review the job description and determine his or her strengths and weaknesses for the job, and try to reinforce the fact that it is all about the employee and not about me.
Based upon my experience, here are 25 tips for successful management of direct reports:
- Know your employees well.
- Anticipate those that will support you or provide conflict.
- Listen to your employees.
- Be consistent and fair in dealings with them.
- Treat each employee with respect.
- Ask for their advice and use it.
- Do not micro manage.
- Give employees freedom to interact with your boss.
- Be available and visible.
- Have regular staff meetings and one-on-one meetings.
- Maintain a vision and be yourself.
- Know and stick to your personal boundaries.
- Show them best-of-class examples.
- Provide them with ways to develop their skills.
- Ask them about their goals and career dreams.
- Praise them when appropriate.
- Provide little "perks."
- Use mistakes as teachable moments.
- Give them the opportunity to know you.
- Lead by example and walk the walk.
- Make sure they understand organizational goals and objectives.
- Ask them how they evaluate their work.
- Ask them how you can do a better job of managing.
- Discourage silo thinking and promote team success.
- Be professional at all times
I contend that it is very hard to manage and be personally responsible for raising funds because at times one of these responsibilities suffers. I try to be a teacher, mentor and coach due to my experience. I try to let staff know I constantly support them and will go to bat for them throughout the organization. They also have learned where the buck stops, and that they need also to be personally accountable. I always encourage them to exceed expectations and have pride in their work.
It is not easy being a boss or direct report. Put yourself in the other person's shoes, and you may enhance your perception and improve your skills as a manager!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, IN plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.