Management, Management & leadership

Managing for managers: top tips

Chrissie Wright, DSC Associate, provides an insight to management of her upcoming training course - Managing for Managers.

The job of the manager is to achieve the task, by building a team and developing individuals to achieve their best. Easier said than done!

But here’s the thing: Being a manager isn’t about feeling satisfied after putting in a solid day’s work; rather, it’s about getting your team to deliver the results and outcomes you need and for them to feel great about their accomplishments instead. When your team gets recognition for a job well done, it’s a reflection of your leadership efforts.

If you are in a middle management role, it can be particularly challenging when you feel pressure from both ‘above and below’. It is your job to deliver the Board’s strategy but you may also have to deal with resistance from your own staff. When this happens, your role as a leader, not only a manager is key alongside the importance of training and support to help you.

A role model manager is one who inspires those who work for him or her, as well as demonstrating the appropriate skills and competencies. Here are some of the key areas where you can develop your skills and approach both through training and experience:

How you are ‘being’ as a leader and manager

Research has shown that people want to feel they can trust their managers above all else. Building trust takes time but it can be destroyed very quickly. Being true to your word and honest with your employees is important in gaining trust and respect.

Emotional intelligence is important and developing your self-awareness in terms of the impact of your behaviour on your team is one of the first things to master. Being positive and giving encouragement is essential. As someone once said ‘there is no limit to the level of poor performance that can be achieved, given sufficient lack of encouragement’!

No one is saying that you aren’t allowed to have a bad day now and then, but if you can demonstrate strength, calm and perseverance even during stressful times and a good, positive attitude overall, you will instil the same within your employees.

Take care to always lead by example in a responsible manner, and your employees will follow suit. Encourage healthy work habits by demonstrating them. A good leader motivates his/her team rather than criticizes them and strives to inspire team members to reach their full potential.

Get skilled up in the areas that make a difference – the ‘What you are doing part of your role’

The good news is that there is plenty of advice and help available: delegation and decision making, performance management, staff recruitment, organisation and managing priorities and honing your communication abilities are all key skill areas worthy of attention. In my experience, those good at delegating have the highest performing teams. Recruiting the right people for the right job is an art as well as a science and requires proper time and attention. If you hire the best and right people for your team, you will have won half the battle for achieving the goals and outcomes you need. Excellent people will reflect well on you as a leader and when they go on to do great things even outside of your organisation, this in itself is a great reward.

Being able to focus on the right priority at any one time in a fast pace changing environment is important for the manager to recognise and to be able to support the team to put their energy and attention in the right place.

Finally, knowing your style of communication and being able to inspire your vision and mission is again a practised art that can be learned and improved.

Support and Well-being

Just as you might have a bad day, so too might some of your employees. Offer support and encouragement by taking the time to understand any problems or difficulties. As a role model, demonstrate healthy work-habits, for example, taking proper lunch breaks, not working late every day etc. Ensure there are policies in place to support both physical and mental well-being.

Finally, take steps to manage your own well-being: manage your diary so that you have enough time to think and plan away from the daily pressures as well as spend enough time with your own staff both as a team and individuals. Take time out for friends, family and other interests. You cannot do your job effectively if you are overly stressed and worn out. Easy to say in these demanding times of having to do more with less, but essential none the less for you and your team. It can be a lonely place when you are the manager, so make sure you also have support yourself from perhaps a mentor, coach or other colleagues.

Don’t get discouraged when things don’t go according to plan, you would not be human otherwise. You are working with people: all individuals and unpredictable in their way. That is the challenge and also the great reward when you achieve the results you need and see your team members grow and develop in so doing.

Want to find out more? Join Managing for Managers on 23 September.