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Get Your Manager Face On

    Our faces? They’re basically emotional canvases, splashed with a vibrant mix of feelings. Think joy, surprise, passion, anger, sadness and fear – all etched right there in our facial expressions.  Emotions are like our human signature, and you bet we’re born to flaunt them!

    However, when you step into the shoes of a leader, you sometimes need to perform a little “face check.” No, I’m not suggesting you suppress your emotions – far from it. Instead, it’s about acknowledging that your expressions have a powerful language of their own. You may look a little grumpy because of sleepless nights or carry the worry of a sick child on your face. Yet, be mindful that your team is reading these visual cues and writing their own story. “Is my boss upset with me?” they wonder.

    In this article, we’ll explore the importance of your “Manager Face” – that professional and approachable look you should don when interacting with your employees.

    Do You Appear Professional and Approachable?

    Tomorrow morning, before you stride into your workplace, take a moment to check your reflection in the mirror. What’s the story etched across your face?  Are you wearing the smile of someone inspired by the possibilities of a new day? Or do you resemble someone who’s had a rough morning, with stress and irritation written all over your face?

    While some of us are gifted with an ability to leap out of bed, radiating boundless energy and positivity, there are others, like me, who need a bit more coaxing to join the land of the living.

    Me, Before Coffee

    Mornings? Not exactly my forte. The alarm was an evil menace, the snooze option my best friend. By the time I managed to drag myself out of bed, get dressed, pack the kids’ lunches, and somehow orchestrate the morning chaos, I’d consider it a triumph if my shoes even remotely matched. Yes, there were those memorable days when I’d stroll into work sporting two entirely different shoes!

    And let’s not forget the essential caffeine fix – the elixir that transforms us from sleep-deprived zombies into functional human beings.  Once at work, I’d head straight for the coffee pot  barely managing an inaudible grunt to acknowledge employees. Keurigs didn’t exist in my early working career. Imagine that!  Brewing a pot of coffee and patiently waiting for that slow drip felt like an eternity.

    But no matter how you feel inside, your demeanor matters. It casts a ripple effect on everyone around you, shaping the tone and atmosphere of your workplace.


    When you stroll into work with a distracted, tired, or miserable look, it spreads through your workplace like a virus. And even if you’re not upset with anyone, it’s all about what others perceive. 

    Every year, my former company conducted employee opinion surveys, including a question about how supportive managers were. In locations where scores indicated unsupportive managers, I interviewed employees to dig deeper. Frequently, employees expressed that they didn’t find their managers approachable, citing comments like, “I don’t want to bother her because she always seems grouchy,” or “He appears annoyed when I interrupt him.” It boiled down to how employees perceived approachability through their managers’ expressions. You may communicate that you are supportive, but when your face contradicts your words, that’s the reality your employees experience.

    I know, some days it’s tough not to roll your eyes or grit your teeth in frustration, especially after a sleepless night, a chaotic morning, or a traffic jam that could put anyone on edge. But remember, you’re at work for a reason, and all eyes are on you.

    So, how do you show up at work each morning with pep in your step, looking professional and approachable? How do you keep your Manager Face on, no matter what life throws your way?

    Small Changes, Big Impact

    Never underestimate the mighty influence of small changes. Transformations start with tiny habits. Just like the daily ritual of flossing your teeth may not seem significant until your dentist appointment reveals the difference it’s made over the years. 😬

    Now, let’s shift our focus to your morning routine. Chances are, it’s running on autopilot,  but you can tweak it for the better. 

    Below are a few thoughts about a morning routine. Is there a habit you want to change?

    Morning Routine Makeover

    Morning alarm. Ditch the grating sound of a buzzing alarm and wake up to a pleasant ringtone or an inspiring song.

    First thought of the day. Keep a gratitude journal by your bedside and jot down three things you’re thankful for as soon as you wake up. By the end of 21 days, gratitude will naturally become your first morning thought.

    Morning sustenance. If you need a caffeine kickstart, it’s best to indulge before you arrive at work. And don’t forget to eat! Your body craves nourishment in the morning – it fuels your energy, sharpens your mind, and promotes heart and overall health. (But please, try to resist the allure of that morning meeting donut!)

    Morning Routine. Consider revamping your morning routine. Incorporate a refreshing walk, a calming yoga session, a brief 10-minute stretch, or a moment of meditation to set a positive tone for the day.

    Getting Dressed. Are you tired of rummaging through your closet, wondering what to wear, discovering clothes with missing buttons or wrinkles. Selecting your outfit the night before is a morning game-changer.

    Morning Commute – Say goodbye to the gloomy world news that often accompanies your morning drive. Swap it for something uplifting and productive, like a motivational podcast, your favorite playlist, or a dose of morning comedy. If you must stay informed, tune into a local station for updates on your city or community, ideally delivered by cheerful broadcasters.

    Face Check. Before entering work, look in the mirror and check your thoughts. Put on your best professional face and remind yourself why you’re grateful. It sets the right tone for the day.

    A Break means a Break. It’s tempting to devour fast food at your desk to clear out your inbox, but resist this habit. While occasionally skipping breaks or lunch for a critical project may be necessary, it shouldn’t become the norm. Stepping away for a break rejuvenates your mood and recharges your energy. Take a leisurely walk, go for a drive, relax on a park bench, plan a lunch date with a friend, or indulge in some therapeutic retail therapy. When you return, take a moment to check your face, ensuring it’s ready to start a fresh afternoon.

    Mirror your mood. Keep a compact mirror on your desk or use your phone to perform a quick face check. It’s your personal reminder to wear your Manager Face, projecting professionalism and approachability throughout the day.


    Start with one new habit today and gradually add more if needed. Keep it simple and consistent. You’ll find that wearing your Manager Face becomes second nature. Your mindset will improve, and your employees will see you as more approachable. Remember, it’s not just about how you look on the outside; it’s about how you feel inside. So, let’s put on our Manager Faces and lead with positivity and professionalism!

    Starting your day well may not guarantee the rest of the whole day will be perfect, but starting your day badly pretty much guarantees a lousy day.

    Ponder Points

    How do I show up for work every morning?

    Am I aware of the impact my facial expressions have on my team’s perceptions of me as a leader?

    What small changes can I make to my morning routine to set a more positive and approachable tone for the day ahead?

    How can I consistently maintain my “Manager Face” regardless of the challenges I face throughout the day?

    Do you have tips on how you stay professional and approachable? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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