How to Manage Talent

Books have been written about (and entire industries dedicated to) the best ways to manage talent. Salesforce has its own take on how to become a great manager in the Manage the Salesforce Way trail on Trailhead. While it’s written with Salesforce in mind, the philosophies on management, leadership, culture-building, and just about everything else are transferable to any business environment.

The thing to always remember is that people are at the heart of every business. Businesses need both visionary leadership and great day-to-day management to succeed. Leadership and management aren’t one and the same — while leaders typically set vision and strategy and drive company goals, managers work more at a team level by focusing on priorities and execution.

The Five Characteristics of a Great Manager

Practically speaking, adopting a management framework can both help all of your company’s managers develop skills and strategies for themselves and their teams. Salesforce’s Great Manager Framework defines the five characteristics that make up a great manager:

1. Know Your Business

A great manager:

  • Knows the business, customer, and industry inside and out
  • Facilitates discussions to foster diverse thinking and experimentation among colleagues
  • “Connects the dots” between different people, products, and ideas
  • Clarifies today’s priorities and intentions while building toward the future
  • Connects those below to the overall vision, while connecting those above them to the processes that’ll achieve the vision

Get It Done

A great manager:

  • Drives results even under tough circumstances
  • Prioritizes with and holds others accountable to their V2MOMs
  • Challenges the status quo to improve processes and systems
  • Coaches team to handle adversity with poise and professionalism
  • Gives the team space to fail, has their backs when they do, and doesn’t place blame
  • Helps their team to find alternative ways to their goal when resources or other factors block their path

3. Win As A Team

A great manager:

  • Puts the collective good of the company first
  • Encourages collaboration within and between teams
  • Facilitates debate and discussion, even if they’re uncomfortable
  • Is aware of the team’s style and dynamics, and adjusts accordingly
  • Prioritizes outcomes that are a result of the best of collective input
  • Asks questions to understand the lives and perspectives of colleagues

4. Motivate And Champion

A great manager:

  • Prioritizes building a relationship with each team member, understands their development needs and goals, and helps them along their learning journey
  • Holds themself and the team accountable to expectations
  • Celebrates big and small contributions to make people feel appreciated for their efforts
  • Guides the team to continuously grow and self-develop, especially by providing “stretch assignments” that pushed them out of their comfort zone
  • Shows consistency across different audiences and settings
  • Regulates their own feelings and adjusts accordingly based on the emotional cues displayed by others

5. Courageous Communicator

A great manager:

  • Tailors the message and style to the audience, and uses storytelling to deliver effective presentations and messages
  • Is willing to champion ideas, people, or positions despite dissent or political risk
  • Is accountable, and shares mistakes and failures widely
  • Handles wins with grace and humility, and losses with poise, confidence, and a willingness to be retrospective in understanding what went wrong
  • Asks for and gives constructive feedback regularly. They also hold difficult conversations and encourages the team to do the same.
  • Listens with the intent of learning and understanding, not responding

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Coaching and Feedback

Great managers aren’t just born as great managers. They work to develop management skills, build trust and communication with colleagues, and learn ways to motivate, empower, and support their teams. Setting expectations, providing feedback, and conducting performance reviews are three essential elements to managing talent. The Coaching and Feedback module on Trailhead is a great resource for developing specific skills in these areas and understanding why they’re so important to the health of your business.

Let’s look at a few key areas to start with:

Coaching vs Telling

Coaching is all about helping others learn and grow themselves. Telling others what to do and teaching them how to do it are important parts of coaching. But telling on its own isn’t coaching — it’s important to understand when to wear a different managerial hat.

Wear the “Telling” hat when:

  • Someone has never done a specific task before
  • The person lacks the confidence to do the task without step-by-step instructions

Wear the “Coaching” hat when:

  • Someone already knows how to do a task
  • The person is confident and excited about figuring it out independently

Dig deeper into coaching and telling strategies in the Coach and Develop Others unit on Trailhead.

GROW Your Coaching Skills

Coaching is a conversation. Sometimes it’s a quick hallway chat about something that just happened, other times it’s a series of focused one-on-one meetings to plan your career development. Coaching can cover a lot of ground, and lots of topics are good fodder for coaching conversations.

The benefits of coaching are real and far-reaching. Coaching can help your team members:

  • Feel more motivated
  • Perform their duties at a higher level
  • Improve internal and external relationships
  • Be more effective with new responsibilities or difficult tasks
  • Make progress in their career

Salesforce uses a simple approach called GROW to help managers become more effective coaches. GROW stands for:

Goal: Establish the objectives

Reality: Identify what’s happening

Options: Identify options and make choices

Will: Identify what will be done

GROW is simple and gets results. Our Motivate and Champion Trailhead unit can help you understand and develop strategies for using the GROW framework as you coach your own teams.

The Importance of Feedback

Feedback is key to improvement; how can we get better if we don’t know what to work on? Talking to somebody about missing a deadline or losing a contract can be awkward, but talking about things when they go wrong is essential to growth. That means learning to give, and receive, feedback.

Our Trailhead unit, Give and Receive Feedback, breaks down the art of giving and receiving feedback into an actionable frameworks you can learn and utilize. Develop the three main skills at the core of using feedback as a manager:

  • Giving positive and constructive feedback
  • Responding effectively to defensiveness
  • Receiving feedback more easily

And if there are performance issues with an employee who seems to have great potential? It’s worth it to both you and the employee to put the work in to get things back on track.


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