Friday, 2 May 2014

Successful Managers - the Fundamentals

Newly promoted managers which despite their past success can often struggle with their new responsibilities. Its classic isn’t? You’re good at your job, you get promoted to the high echelons of management, and then find yourself struggling. I know what’s like having walked in those shoes.  The solution is straightforward, but before highlighting this I’d like to mention, the 5 greatest challenges managers worry about: sales, profitability, managing people, costs and competitors.

So given this, why is a common oversight frequently made, where managers focus on the ‘hard processes’ of strategy, targets and policies, to the exclusion of ‘soft skills’ of managing people?  Let me highlight the priority by asking, in your team what’s the hardest to improve or change? Is it learning new skills, or experience or changing someone’s attitude? The answer is pretty obvious.

‘The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies’ to work for have recently been announced for 2014 and it’s interesting to note the theme across all these organisations; namely, good leadership and management; teamwork and communication. It is these soft skills if applied consistently and in balance with the ‘hard processes’ make for a successful manager.

So, here are the fundamentals for new managers:

1.  Team Climate: as a manager part of your role and responsibility is to create the culture that enables high performance. This sets the foundation for everything else that follows. You can do this by ensuring people’s behaviour and attitude are aligned to your organisation’s values. Hold people to account for bad behaviours. Do be constructive and when needed be assertive with your feedback.

2.   Effective Communication: Engage all staff and aim to influence others. Listen, be in tune with what’s not being said. The grapevine is your barometer of what’s truly going on. Is your style of communication adding to your team’s issues? Are your team confident to feedback upwards? If not, why not?

3.   Build positive relationships: make the time and develop genuine rapport particular with others where it doesn’t come easy. This means building trust, respecting different points of view and holding judgement.

4.   Manage Performance: ensure clarity of objectives, forward planning, manage resources to ensure objectives are met; and communicate; go back to step 2.

5.   Manage inappropriate behaviours: get the balance right of holding yourself and others to account in an appropriate way. Without compromising trust or respect give consistent feedback that keeps others engaged, committed and motivated; back to step 1.

6.   Give Praise. Make it your mantra to catch someone doing something right every day. Doesn’t have to be complicated or over the top, a simple thank you goes a long way to influencing your team’s motivation and commitment.

And the final building block is Confidence. Believe in yourself. You can and will be a successful manager.