How to be a True Advocate for Your Employees

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

There’s often an unspoken assumption by many that if you’re promoted to manager, you’re going to be good at it. The reality in many cases is that people become managers because they’re really good at their job as an individual contributor and therefore earn promotions managing others who do that same job. Then the manager is tasked with a completely different skill set with absolutely no support. 

Thankfully there’s been a growing awareness of this problem, but while awareness is one thing, taking action is another. For many managers, the work has fallen on them to be supportive, empathetic, motivating, effective at hitting goals, and able to manage up. And if you’re a woman+, it’s even more challenging.

There’s never been a better time to be laser-focused on advocating for your team. Why?

  • You’ll improve morale, which is currently an enormous issue for companies
  • You’ll be a more productive team if you’ve created a culture of trust and clear advocacy
  • You’ll look like a hero to the people you report to because you have employees that are satisfied and motivated

Advocacy is an incredibly broad term and means more than just saying nice things about your employees to others (though that’s an important part of it). Here’s a list of what advocacy looks like:

  • Treat your employees how they want to be treated (the platinum rule!)
  • Be crystal clear that you genuinely are an advocate by telling them and showing them
  • Set clear boundaries for yourself and your employees and stick to them
  • Publicly praise them whether they’re in the ‘room’ or not
  • Don’t set unrealistic expectations or set them up for failure; instead, give them the tools and the skills they need to do their job
  • Make sure they take time away from work – recognize this work isn’t their life (and unless you own the business, it shouldn’t be yours either)
  • Be kind when it’s hard
  • Be transparent when you can, and even if you can’t, explain why you can’t
  • Set them up for success through
    • Clarity on role, projects, tasks
    • Stretch projects
    • Creating clear accountability

This is quite the list and while you might not be able to achieve all of it every day, do your best to be intentional about focusing on at least a few of these as often as possible. It’ll make a world of difference, and you’ll be a role model for others.