Roll up! Roll up! Try your hand at the management game and see what prizes (or penalties) are there for the taking.
How’s that new management role going for you so far?
Is it like the roller coaster – some smooth paths but you know that there is a nail-biting precipice just around the next corner. Maybe the Waltzers – a series of near misses and you just want to put your head down, cover your eyes and avoid the crash. Or Bumper Cars – you are in absolute control, giving everyone else a push in the right direction (or out of your way altogether). It can feel powerful – but you’re forever on tenterhooks.
Moving into our first management job can be quite daunting. We may be trained in our ‘field’ specialisms, but not in managing people or projects. Also, we can feel like we are ‘busking’ and sooner or later it will be discovered that we are not a real manager. We juggle all the balls in the right way at the right time but don’t know how long we can keep this up without dropping one – or all – of them.
Well, no one was born a real manager. We all had to start somewhere but, often we have neglected to get some foundation training to set us on the right path. We then find ourselves in the middle of a journey, to a very specific destination (the organisation’s goals) but without a map, compass or signposts. Getting some tools, techniques, models and theories early on in your management career will prove to be invaluable in the long run. Because, 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 wellbeing and achievements.
Sorry – am I putting you off? Don’t worry – top prizes are always available in the management game. Roll up! Results, rewards and reputation, as an effective manager, all to be won. Here’s some tips to get you started:
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 Staffbook, policies or directions to the photocopier, but you will need a good induction training plan that settles you in to the role, puts you in touch with the right people and highlights where your support can be sourced now. Ignore this at your peril – what starts as a merry-go-round descends rapidly in to the ghost train.
Do master management styles
There’s a lot of talk about management styles – but no ‘one size fits all’. It can be like walking through a hall of mirrors, everyone and everything looking familiar, but not quite the same, at every turn. In order to adopt the most appropriate style take the following in to account:
- The situation you are dealing with – if it’s a policy matter you will need to be more directive, 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 brains 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 more 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 trust from people because they don’t present as authentic. Be yourself, for example, using your own language, not management B@*!s$%t speak. Google Tannenbaum and Schmidt for some starter reading.
Create the climate
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. Security, being valued and having direction gives people the best possible chance of hitting all the ducks in the row.
OK, enough fun fair analogies
For a more practical guide to your management career, if you need time and space to reflect on where you’ve come from and where you’re going and you hunger for tips for getting the best from people…