The other day I had a chance encounter with a colleague who was really struggling. We were on a call to discuss a work item, but the conversation veered off sharply into their personal wellbeing and confidence at work, as they had recently moved into a new role - a rather large and unexpected segue!
We talked through their concerns and stressers for half an hour, and slowly teased out the real problems; uncertainty, confidence, and self-imposed measures of success. Getting this out in the open and clearly stated allowed them to see the problem clearly for the first time, and gave them a task to take away: talk to their manager, and get a clear view of what they expected of my colleague’s performance.
This conversation highlighted an aspect of management that often gets overlooked: Emotional Support. “The Company” can be an exacting and uncaring boss - there are always deadlines, there are always pressures and targets to be hit. Many of your reports' interactions will be with other Individual Contributors; people with their own concerns, needs, and deadlines to be hit. As a manager, if you aren’t taking the time to ensure that your reports are in a good mental place, with a clear idea of what is expected of them, then it’s likely that noone else is either.
Taking the time to ensure that your reports feel listened to and emotionally understood is a huge part of maintaining a happy (and therefore effective) team!