Management & leadership, Personal development

A management role: All the fun of the fair

Roll up! Roll up! The management ride can be challenging and chilling, but it can also be thrilling and fulfilling. Here are some thoughts from the DSC Training Team.

How’s your management role going for you?

Is it like the roller coaster – some smooth and level paths sometimes but no one knows what nail-biting precipice is just around the corner?

Maybe it’s like waltzers – a series of near misses and you just want to put your head down, cover your eyes and avoid the crash?

How about bumper cars – you hold the steering wheel, but everyone else is in their own car, holding their own wheel and going in their own direction.

You’d rather get them all in one line – even if it is a bit of a roller coaster? At least you’d be on the same journey, sharing space and pace, and those at the front can shout to those at the back that there is a dip coming up.

To wordplay an old adage – “Some choose management, and some have it thrust upon them”. As charities and not-for-profit organisations, the high demand and low resource context we are in, means many of us have been catapulted into management. Placed in a dinghy. Right at the top of the highest point on the White Water Rapids. Without a paddle.

That’s the equivalent of going on a management career journey and not getting any training under our belt.

On top of that we can feel like we are ‘busking’, an imposter and sooner or later it will be discovered that we are not a real manager.

Well, no one was born a real manager. We all had to start somewhere, but often we have neglected to get or be provided with foundation training to set us on the right path. We find ourselves in a Hall of Mirrors, everything not as we perceived, bumping into glass walls or worse, other people.

In reality, there will be the peaks and troughs of a roller coaster, there will be the potential near misses of the Waltzers and there will be many, many bumps in the road. You will have to juggle the needs of the organisation, of individuals and of the team as a collective – as well as looking after your own workload and well-being.

Sorry – does this sound off-putting? Don’t worry – top prizes are always available in the management game.

Roll up! Roll up! Great results come from simple actions. Here’s some to get you started.

Just moving into management? Don’t ignore induction

Many new managers have been promoted from the team they are in. It’s a new job, but it’s in the same organisation, so no one really thinks about induction. Be the someone who does. Of course, you won’t need the staff handbook, policies or directions to the photocopier, but you will need a good induction training plan that settles you into the role, puts you in touch with the right people and highlights where your support can be sourced now.

Equally, ensure you have robust induction with new reports and new recruits you manage. They say it can take as little as 3 weeks to embed a habit, so set out to get things right early on and set the precedents and standards for the future.

Ignore this at your peril – without good induction, what starts as a merry-go-round descends rapidly into a house of horrors.

Some experience? Do master management styles

There’s a lot of talk about management styles – but no ‘one size fits all’. In order to adopt the most appropriate style take the following into account:

The situation you are dealing with – if it’s a policy matter you will need to be more directive and non-negotiable. To get the best ideas for a new project or service, you will benefit from a more consultative approach to include everyone’s brainpower and to get buy in, in the longer term.

The person you are dealing with – there’s no delicate way to word it; some people need a more assertive approach from you while others need gentle persuasion and influence. Learn to adjust your communication style to best suit the person.

The ‘you’ you are dealing with – try different approaches but don’t stop being you. We all know the manager who adopts completely different personalities depending on who they are speaking to up and down the line. They lose the trust of people because they don’t present as authentic. Be yourself, for example, using your own language, not management B@*!s$%t speak. Search Tannenbaum and Schmidt for some starter reading.

You know, for some rides you need to manage your nerves and for others, you need to manage your speed. Develop agility in management styles.

Flying – but arms getting tired? Motivate and delegate

Motivation is intrinsic, so no matter how many management books tell you tricks for motivating people, they won’t work unless you create a climate in which people can find their own motivation. Fair and well-communicated policies mean people feel secure at work. Team celebrations for individual successes mean people feel valued. Clear job descriptions and mutually agreed targets mean people have direction. When people can connect their role to the wider organisation’s goals, and can see the impact they have on your beneficiaries, they are more likely to engage with their work. So don’t do people’s work for them or protect them from challenging work. Delegate tasks that are within their responsibilities and be on hand to support. Everyone benefits.

You might get a ride in a hot air balloon – getting the bird’s eye view while having a gentle and invigorating flight.

Whether you are heading to the fair for the first time or have been a few times but are still a bit nervous about the rides, knowing what to expect will help you cope with the peaks and troughs of the roller coaster and help you steer the bumper car a bit more confidently.

OK, enough fun fair analogies. For a more practical guide and support for your management career, join us at one of DSC’s management courses:

Or contact the DSC Training Team at [email protected] to discuss some 1-1 support.