Management is tough. Whether you’ve risen through the ranks of your organisation, or been hired from outside the company, you want to do all you can to ensure that the team you manage has your back. Going in and drawing hard lines in the sand might seem like a way to gain respect, but it’s actually the more compassionate managers who are true leaders within their organisation that get the highest rates of success.
If you are beginning a new role, then follow these few simple steps to ensure you get the best work out of the people you manage.
This is key to keeping your employees engaged. Obviously, don’t pass on anything confidential or accidentally cc them all into a private email between you and your line manager, but you don’t want the rumour mill to start working overtime whenever there’s a hint that something might be amiss. Let’s be honest, all companies have ups and downs (especially over the last year with COVID), and employees get nervous. It’s your responsibility as their superior to reassure them and assuage their doubts.
One of the best ways to ensure that you maintain good, healthy communication between you and your team is to have a regular team meeting. Weekly is best for this – get everyone to block it off in their calendars, close the office door (or turn off notifications), and talk.
If you’re in person, you can even jazz this event up a little and take turns to bring in cake or coffee. However you do it, make sure it happens, and don’t let anything get in thewill think that your other commitments are more important than they are.
At the meeting, take turns to go round and each discuss the projects you’re all working on. Not only will this mean that each team member will be aware of what the others are doing, but it might also raise the possibility of collaboration. If one member of the team has an idea, or thinks they can help someone else, then you can facilitate and encourage this discussion.
This falls under the general umbrella of communication, but deserves a separate heading because these micro-meetings are key to the success of managing your team. Once a month with each team member (at a stretch, you can push it to once every six weeks) sit down and have a conversation with them about how their work is going, and any concerns they might have.
If something has been a real issue, then hopefully they will have approached you before this meeting, but setting aside dedicated time to have this discussion will make them feel as if you are approachable and invested in them.
It also means that you can assess their work-load and capability. Have you given someone a project that you knew would be a challenge for them? This is the time to see if perhaps they need some supervision or support with it. Is another team member struggling because of personal issues? These one-to-ones give you the opportunity to find out (carefully and considerately) how they’re doing and see if they can cope with the workload or if there are issues you need to bring to HR.
Have you ever had a boss that looks over your shoulder the entire time? No one enjoys this and it’s not conducive to producing good work from your employees. If you’re guilty of micro-managing, then it’s time to take a breath, step back, and learn to trust your employees. The parts of your personality that are causing you to micro-manage – perfectionism, attention to detail, wanting to do the best job you can – are all positive attributes, just not when taken to the extreme.
This is when you will begin interfering with your employees’ work. Whatever project you’ve given them, whether it’s Competitor Price Tracking, or planning the staff Christmas party, you need to learn to step back and trust that they will do a good job. After all, you hired them!
This can be one of the most difficult things to balance as a manager. You got where you are because you are brilliant at your job, and your skills and experience have been recognised. But now you have to balance your own workload, attend all the meetings clogging up your calendar, manage your projects, as well as your work-life balance. It can feel overwhelming to add to this.
However, a key trait of great management is that they notice their employees. If someone has been coming in early all week and then asks to clock off a few minutes before five for a personal reason, you should be aware of that. Keep track of all the little things your employees are doing, how they are, what’s making them tick, how hard they’ve been working or their dedication to a project.
Reward them when they do a good job. If they finish something big, take everyone out for a drink. Don’t wait for Christmas and birthdays to demonstrate your appreciation for the people you spend 8 (or more) hours a day with. Use little opportunities to give them a boost.
It can be challenging to introduce these aspects of good communication and project-management to your team if you have been their manager for a while now. It can seem forced, and you might feel as if they won’t want to go along with it. Introduce things one at a time – don’t overwhelm them with team meetings, projects, parties, and reward schemes all at once if you don’t have any of these things in place at the moment.
Instead, use this as the opportunity to begin the communication process. Call a meeting, and suggest that you would like to begin having, for example, weekly meetings, and ask for their input on how they think they should be run. Like all relationships, building a strong team relationship takes time, but will be worth it for success in the end.