It seems so simple; managers are there to manage.
Then why is it that so many get it so wrong?
We all know that the impact of bad management is far reaching. Every manager has the power to make their people angry, stressed and overwhelmingly disengaged. Dictatorial managers who shirk ownership, unduly pressurise their teams and get frantic about workloads stifle employees and suppress engagement.
So far, so unsurprising. Yet why do we keep hearing this over and over again? At least one of the answers is pretty simple. If you are you a manager, you weren’t given a book called ‘How to be a Brilliant Manager’. It’s not an easy job; there are a lot of plates to keep spinning and all-too-often little or no formal development is provided, particularly for those rising through the ranks or expected to suddenly be capable of managing a team who, up until the point of promotion had been peers.
All is not lost…there are some simple things to remember, and all of them begin with this:
Managing is about people
Working with people is about relationships
Relationships take time to build and to maintain
Commit to being a better manager. Here are our top 5 tips to get started with:
1. Know your team
Arguably the single biggest tip; understand what makes your team tick both individually and collectively. There is a lot to be said for having the emotional intelligence to tune in when they are feeling happy, challenged, motivated or angry, stressed, resentful. Adapt and tailor your approach to suit people’s personal approach. Sure, this may not always be possible, but 80-90% of the time is better than zero.
2. Give regular feedback (good AND bad)
We’ve all heard the old saying along the lines of ‘praise is the lowest costing incentive’, but clichés are clichés because they tend to be true. Take time out of each day to recognise and thank people for their contributions and achievements; you don’t have to wait until your next scheduled time with them! On the flip side, don’t shy away from giving bad feedback (replace ‘bad’ with your current word de jour…developmental, formative, etc). Being a good manager is about facing up to the tough stuff and your team will respect you for having a fair and consistent approach.
3. Be imperfect
No-one likes a know-it-all. Your people might not tell you upfront, but you’ll be the subject of office gossip if you’re the sort of manager who has an air of knowing everything about any given subject, or whose motto is “I told you so”. We tend to respect managers and leaders who can put their hands up when they don’t know the answer or when they get it wrong rather than go around the houses and bluff their way through. Be imperfect and it will encourage an open and honest culture.
4. Set the standard
It’s no good playing the ‘unprofessional’ card with someone one day and then be spotted yourself in a similarly unprofessional situation the next. You need to make your standards clear to each person on the team and then role model these yourself. Set clear boundaries for what is and isn’t acceptable (this will differ depending on the environment and company culture), then ‘walk the walk’.
5. Learn, learn, then learn some more
The final tip is two-pronged. As a manager you must support each person with their development (that’s ‘support’, you don’t have to do everything yourself and they should take ownership of their own development). Equally important, and easier to forget, is your development. Be a manager who is eager to learn more and improve whilst constantly challenge yourself and you will set an excellent benchmark for your team (see tip 4!).
Take time today to consider how you can be a better manager. It’s never too late to make a change…what will yours be?