Updated: Oct 19, 2018
If there is one thing I've learned from being in a management position it's this: Your team is your top priority.
This is contradicting to what most of us are told, I know. We're told that the client's satisfaction and our boss's approval are the #1 priority. Period.
But what if I told you that you are putting both your client and your boss first by actively putting your team first as a manager?
See, here's the thing. No matter what role you're in, the goal is to benefit the company. To your boss/the owner of the company, that often means making sure your existing clients are happy and going after new business. But for you, this means making sure your team is equipped to produce the best results possible.
My pastor used to often say, "God first, family second, then everything else." It always stuck with me. Well here's the management version of that quote, "Team first, self second, then everything else."
Now let me explain why YOU are second [because I know most of your eyebrows just went up when I listed "self" as second on the list].
You are a manager. Your job is to manage. This means it is your job to make sure the work is happening on schedule and that your team has what they need to make it happen. You can't do that if you don't first make sure that you are set and effectively managing yourself. If you don't have yourself prepared and organized for the day, the only thing you're effectively managing is your team's next failure.
You won't be able to deliver up to your boss's expectations and you definitely have no shot at fulfilling your client's expectations if your team is not equipped with what they need to make things happen (assets, deadlines, contacts, answered questions, etc...). So you need to prioritize setting them up to succeed first, but you then have to make sure that you're organized and able to effectively manage all the pieces.
Prioritizing your own organization high on the list also helps reduce the stress that results from something going wrong. Remember this - your team's failure is not exclusively your failure. As the saying goes "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." Know when to let your team take responsibility for their end of things. You are not Superman. The world cannot rest on your shoulders.
And now, everything else can fall into place. The truth is, managing the expectations of your boss and your clients is not independent from managing your team and your own priorities. It is a natural byproduct. By making your team your first priority you're simultaneously making your boss and your clients your first priority because you understand that having a good team is necessary to produce the results they need and expect.
There are times you need to step your game up and remind your boss why he keeps you around. There are times you need to go the extra mile for the client to remind them of the value they have with you. But typically, when you prioritize your team first and yourself second, the rest of your priorities work themselves out and everyone is more than satisfied.