How to have an effective performance conversation
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If you are stepping into your shoes as a manager for the first time, or you are looking to improve your management skills, then the following advice could help you with your quest. Regardless of how good your existing management skills are now, there is probably not a manager anywhere that does not have room for a little improvement.
An effective manager needs to have a degree of natural leadership as well as an honest intention for the good of his or her team. There needs to be a willingness to spend some time and effort improving ones skills, but also having the strength to take action when needed. After all they say actions speak louder than words!
A good manager will lead by example, and have the ability to motivate and inspire their team to emulate their own actions. They achieve this by building a positive working environment that encourages sharing and co-operation, and the willingness to take action to achieve their goals.
This is easy to do if you are in the lucky position to be building your own team from scratch. You simply choose those most suitable for the job from their experience skill-set. However, if you are taking over the management of an existing team, then it will become your job to improve your workforce to become the best. Once you get to know your team and have worked out their strengths and weaknesses, you have the opportunity to turn these weaknesses to strengths by offering training programmes and courses. If you find they are not working well together, or communication is lacking within your team, you can find them specific programmes that will enhance their skills and build trust in each other.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” This Chinese proverb reminds all of us of the importance of goal setting, and the sooner you set your goals the quicker they will be met. Never look back and say ‘we should have done this’. The past is gone and there is nothing you can do today to change what has already happened, but your can change things today that will have an effect on tomorrow. Always look forward to set your goals and your team will more likely push themselves to achieve them rather than look back and lament of what they should have done.
“Watch, listen, and learn. You can’t know it all yourself”. As a manager, it is important to know your own limits. To work effectively with your team members it will always pay to listen to their opinions. They may raise something that you have not thought about, or come up with a far better way of handling a situation than you had considered. Having good people skills is a a bonus for a manager. Your team should be treated in a warm and friendly manner, so that they would not think twice about approaching you if they need help, or want to share an idea with you.
A good manager will be able to communicate well with their team and build a solid relationship with them. Having the ability to inspire and motivate your team to work to the very best of their own ability is all down to good communication and good support. Creating a work environment that is conductive to helping your team to achieve their targets without hindrance is what you are aiming for. Having an open-door policy to all team members where they can feel confident about bringing any obstacles to you, will go a long way to keeping your communication channels open.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” (Albert Einstein). Building a sound relationship with your team means having respect for them. Understanding your teams training and motivational needs can help to improve weak areas, and go a long way to improving respect within your team, and your respect for them. Mistakes will be made at some point, but you should never lose respect for your team members because of it. It is better for everyone to treat mistakes as learning opportunities, and trust that this will never be repeated.
All managers will want to improve their own skills as well as those of their team, so identifying areas of opportunity to advance knowledge and skills will help greatly. Encouraging the foundation of a learning culture and environment within the workplace can help team members to work on their weaknesses by taking part in further training, and their efforts to learn should be recognised and rewarded.
Knowing your team extremely well will enable you to identify those team members with strengths that will contribute to the success of your business. With this knowledge you can delegate suitable tasks to the best people for the job in hand. This will ultimately increase productivity and efficiency. However, take care not to delegate all of your task out, especially when you know that certain jobs would be better handled by yourself. You want to deliver the best possible service to your end customer, so if that means you having to take full responsibility for a link in the chain, take the appropriate steps needed for the best possible outcome.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the air-plane takes off against the wind, not with it” (Henry Ford). Just like your team, you will have your own areas of strength and weakness. We naturally choose to take part in activities that interest us, and that we may have a natural aptitude for, and may even set goals that cater to our own strengths as a result. We would never willingly choose to follow a path that exposes our own weaknesses, however, a good manager will recognise that we need to confront weakness with action. Effective managers will also show that they are willing to strengthen their weaknesses through appropriate training. This will not only improve your own management skills, but it will encourage your team to follow your example to address any areas of weakness they feel they possess too.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” (Walt Disney). When a customer buys from you, your role as manager is to orchestrate the swift delivery of your customers product or service as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Customers need to see results. They want their product to be delivered quickly, or their service to be conducted swiftly and professionally, and no amount of behind the scenes discussion by your team will be of the slightest interest to them. Your actions behind the scenes should be focussed towards serving your customers. You would never put yourself in a position of taking an order, then spending the next week discussing with your team the best way to deliver the order. Your system should be in place before you even accept your first order.
If any of the issues raised in this article affect your business, please give us a call to discuss your options. We’re a friendly bunch and really keen to make a difference to your business by finding a solution that works for you and your business so call us on 01473 360160.