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Tips for managing your staff

Having managed teams of people for 9 years, I’ve had quite a bit of experience in managing most situations, some common and others completely bizarre…. there was a 22 year old girl asking for a payrise because she couldn’t afford the new watch she wanted, the guy who went on sick leave after a week and never came back to the office and there was handing out a redundancy to someone who didn’t deserve it (not just 1 redundancy, but 20+).

If you’ve been managed badly in the past then I really think there is little excuse for being a bad manager yourself. If someone wants to be in a management role then I’m afraid that usually encounters managing others, which should become your priority. You see, it has a knock-on effect – if you put the company goals / profit etc in front, you lose focus on keeping the people who are doing the work happy, if they leave, then you have a recruitment issue on your hands (on average, it takes 20 weeks for new employees to become fully productive). Keep the people happy and you’ll keep your clients  happy.

I really enjoyed reading Carmen’s Fine Foods philosophy and agreed with her views (and she does have some lovely incentives for staff which are easy to implement) and I find that that’s exactly the type of agency environment that I work in. So a few of my tips are:

  1. Employ the right people in the first place. If the attitude is there, their willingness to give you their all is evident and any probationary period is enough time to determine if you’ve made the right choice. If you’re carrying dead weight, then have the guts to make tough decisions which may not favour everyone. Now I’m not saying that you have to sack the person, but leave it unaddressed and you yourself have given the green light to mediocrity.
  2. Give your employees the potential to exceed. Having sat on both sides of the fence as employee and employer, it’s blatant that employers need to provide a path of progression, an opportunity to exceed in one’s role and a mutual respect to achieve success.  A stifled employee will look elsewhere quickly when usually something as simple public praise & recognition or KPI rewards set at achievable intervals will do wonders to motivate many.
  3. Look at the management. It’s the old cliché to “lead by example” but in all honesty, many managers don’t. A boss that “doesn’t do anything” or simply demotivates staff by milling around and distracting people, proclaiming their ever-so-busy schedule makes then a hero does nothing to motivate your employees to reach your company goals. I’ve seen poor management kill the spirit in a lot of really talented people and I also believe that it’s easily addressed with basic social skills. Leaders who don’t walk the talk have their credibility undermined immediately.
  4. Give a little – remember it’s a 2 way street here. Some employees “expect” to have numerous perks to the job and in some ways, forming the best companies will have these perks at their disposal, BUT and it’s a big BUT, there has to be respect for these perks, without demanding them, in return. There was a guy who continuously worked late (ie did nothing productive during the day and so needed to stay back each night) just so he could claim the taxi ride home & evening meal after 8pm. Don’t take the piss.
  5. Communicate. Emails really are a fabulous yet terrible form of communication. There is no tone, no expression, no body language, just words on a page. I’ve written plenty of emails which have landed me in hot water due to my “tone” which was non existent and whatever else a paranoid idiot would concoct in their head. Get up out of your chair, walk over to someone and speak to them in a socially acceptable manner. Resolve problems face to face, don’t be a coward hiding behind the written word. If you can create an environment where people don’t feel censored, where you can speak your mind without fear of ridicule – you can have an open conversation which ultimately leads to better results all round.


Comments

Comment from MikeZed
Time June 21, 2010 at 4:07 pm

One key aspect to management is that very few people are actually trained or spend time learning the skills to be managers of people. Most people spend a great deal of time learning about their actual role – be that designing, coding etc. but when they get good enough at that role to warrant a “managers” position, they are typically thrown into managing a team with very little support or training, and expected to simply get on with it. As a result, they tend to replicate all the management techniques that have been used on them – including the negative ones. It’s a lot like parenting – it’s one of the most important aspects of our lives, but the one we have the least training for. I think it’s important that companies who expect people to manage teams invest in teaching those people how to make the transition from a skills based role into a people leadership based role. It’s an oversight i’ve made in the past, and paid the price for.

Comment from Valentina Borbone
Time June 21, 2010 at 4:22 pm

And I couldn’t agree more. I was thrown into managing a team of 6 under 25s and it’s no wonder why I asked for training – but I also took the initiative on myself, I sought the course I wanted to go on, I managed my work flow to allow me the head space to attend – I sought the solution (well, part of it anyway). It was an oversight of mine to exclude this. Companies need to make this part of their own remit, not the remit of their managers alone.



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