A manager can make a huge difference in the mood, productivity and overall performance of a team. They can also alter the way a business functions by encouraging initiative and innovation, reducing waste and maximising the resources available to them. Therefore it is important that a manager affects these factors positively and moves their team and the business forward, creating and maintaining an environment which is conducive to high performance.
However, all this is easier said than done and managers face a wide range of challenges. Cross-cultural specialist David Solomons from International House, one of our member companies, names pressures to ‘perform’ and achieve results in ever shorter periods of time, temptations to cut corners and increasingly less personal, face-to-face contact with colleagues as some of the main challenges facing managers. When asked how they could overcome these issues, his recommendation was to “invest the time to cultivate and build positive, harmonious and productive relationships with those they manage. Ultimately this will ensure a longer lasting and more successful outcome for everyone – especially in a world which has little time for these qualities”. Indeed, not only does a good manager need to be technically proficient, they also need to be good with people and able to communicate with their team.
In this article we will be looking at behaviours that a good manager can adopt in order to overcome the challenges they face and how these behaviours relate to the way they run their office, their team and the manager themselves.
–Delegation is tricky business. Avoid micro-managing your team by delegating work, this will give them the chance to learn and grow, which they can’t do unless they are given responsibility or the opportunity to make their own mistakes. You should also assign them tasks that will stretch them, don’t give them the boring tasks that you don’t want to do just because you can.
-Lead by example. If you show willing and take on projects yourself, including the less attractive tasks, and you stay late when necessary, your team will be happier to do the same.
– Be honest with yourself and your team. If you make a mistake hold your hands up, admit it and explain how you are going to learn from it. This sets the example of how you’d like your team to act if they made a mistake and can create an open and safe environment in which your team can learn and grow.
-Use all available resources. Management is often about maximising input by making the most of the resources available to you, including your staff’s skill and knowledge. You should utilise your resources and talent wisely in order to get the best out of your team.
-Think long-term. You should have in mind a direction for your team, and consider this when managing them. It is important to build trust, which often takes time, and to take time out to explain things when necessary. You should also invest in training as you can only be as good as your team. And remember you may not be there forever, so develop people to be able to do a better job than you can by encouraging learning and responsibility, you are responsible for developing the leaders of the future.
–Treat others how you’d want to be treated. This means treating your team with the same respect, trust and honesty that you’d expect from them. It is equally important to be fair to your staff and treat everyone equally; favouritism will only cause resentment amongst your team.
–Acknowledge the positive. By focussing on the bigger picture, not just on what’s missing, you will be able to see the good work your team has done. Celebrate this success with your team as it can boost morale and show your staff that you value their work.
–Have fun. Socialising after work or in the office can help you get to know your team in a new light and form bonds that can be useful in the workplace.
-Likewise, show genuine interest in your team. Knowing more about them and what their motivations are means you can get the most out of them, but know your boundaries, nobody wants their manager prying into their private lives.
–Give regular feedback. Create a schedule for feedback so your team knows when to expect it and aren’t taken by surprise. The feedback should be competency orientated with some goals for them to work towards. These goals must be realistic. When setting goals for your team remember that people are more likely to work towards goals and deadlines they helped to set than unrealistic ones imposed from above.
–Ask employees to give feedback on their jobs. This ensures that your team are enjoying their jobs and they will appreciate the opportunity to determine its course. Ask them where they’d like to see their careers go and challenges they’d like to face, what they’re enjoying and what they’d change if they could and take into account what they say.
–Encourage input from your team and make them feel confident in seeking you out for advice, you never know what ideas they may come up with. Making them feel like an annoyance is not conducive to a good working environmen, nor to innovation and new ideas.
–Trust yourself and be decisive. If you don’t trust yourself and your decisions or have confidence in what you do, then who else will? Likewise, if you don’t have the conviction to follow through your original decision and you keep changing your mind, your team won’t trust your decision making skills, and they may become frustrated if it often results in confusion and more work for them.
–Don’t be a people pleaser, being a manager is as much about pointing people in the right direction when they’re doing something wrong or underperforming as rewarding them when they’re doing something right. Just remember if you need to reprimand someone, do it in private and keep it professional.
–Be aware of your moods and emotions and try not to take these out on your team. If you missed your train, fell down the escalator on the tube and spilt your coffee on the way to work, you’re well within your right to be annoyed; however it’s not your team’s fault. Recognise when something has affected your mood and deal with it, don’t vent at your staff, they won’t appreciate it.
–Be aware of how others perceive you. Do they find you approachable or easy to anger? Do you empower your team with autonomy or micro-manage them to the point of distraction? It is helpful to request feedback from your team so that you can be aware of how they view you and the effect you have on their working life.
-Using this feedback can help you work on your management competencies. It will identify your strengths and weaknesses in a management role and what you need to improve, from this you can take steps to develop your management competencies and progress as a manager.
As you can see from these tips, good management is more complicated than simply telling people what to do and hoping for the best and it can take a lot of time to develop a good management style. A manager should think about their vision and the way they run their office, they need to be self-aware and David Solomons cites the ability to listen and empathise with those they manage as one of the most important characteristics of a good manager. He adds that they should be “in constant appreciation of the abilities and achievements of the individuals they manage”.
So bearing all this in mind, you may feel that you could benefit from a little guidance. Fortunately, our “Leadership in Focus Forum” series of events launches next week. Organised in collaboration with Avocets Consulting, International House and Hill Networks, this series aims to bring together people in leadership positions and to provide a platform where they can discuss relevant issues. Our first event, to be held on 21st May, will be chaired by David Solomons and will cover the topic of “Leading Multicultural Teams”. If you’d like to take part in these events, please sign up here and check this page to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events.
We would like to say a special thank you to International House for their contribution to this blog post. Keep checking back for new posts on hot business topics.