Congratulations! You have been appointed into a new Supervisory or Managerial role and now you need to take your skills and expertise to a new level.
Many of us progress to management because we’ve done a good job, we’ve shown that we are capable of growing professionally; and we have displayed the attributes required to manage a team.
However, once you get your feet under your desk, you might notice there is not much guidance or support about how you are supposed to manage a team successfully. If you’re lucky you will have a manager who can mentor you, or maybe someone else in the company is able to fulfill this role. But if not – what then?
Most successful managers are deemed so because they are able to motivate and manage their team to perform to their best ability; they support and coach their team with the right resources (at the right time) and collectively they deliver on the agreed organisational objectives. Now it is far less about your technical skills and far more about your people skills.
So what are the basics? As a broad overview, consider the following:
Your organisation will already have a number of relevant policies and procedures that relate to staff employment conditions, health and safety, performance management and review; ensure you are well across these and know which are especially relevant for your team, then familiarise yourself with each team member’s individual employment contract.
Where does your team fit into the wider organisation? Which other teams does yours most interact with, or are reliant upon to ensure your team can deliver on its objectives? Consider teams which are closely aligned to yours operationally (e.g. yours is one team in a manufacturing operation). How can you maximise the value of your interactions with these teams to assist you, and them, to reach their objectives. Always remember that competing for resources will never be in your longer term interests.
If your organisation has an established strategic or business planning cycle, you will probably have operational objectives to meet which have annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly or maybe even daily targets. Know your team key performance indicators and targets and how they fit into the overall organisational objectives. Know how these relate to each individual on your team, and ensure they form part of each team member’s own annual performance plan. Regular reviews are important to ensure you identify anything which could derail expected results, or if new or additional resources are required to meet an unexpected need. These may take the form of regular team meetings, as well as individual performance reviews (which may also be part of an annual cycle within your organisation).
Team motivation is critical to ensure that your team meets it objectives; as manager you are also their coach and mentor, and it is up to you to ensure your team remains productive and motivated. Everyone has their own personality type, understanding this will impact how you motivate and develop each team member for optimal performance. If a personality typing tool is available for you to use with your team it could be a useful exercise to undertake. Getting to know each team member personally will help you understand their personal drivers and values, and together with understanding their personality type, this will help you develop a plan to best motivate and develop each team member.
Everyone also has their own preferred communication style, and sometimes it may be at odds with your own preferences. If you have assessed your team members’ personalities and determined how they each prefer to be motivated, use this information to inform you about their preferred communication style. Verbal and written communication often require different styles – of formality and tone especially, however both are required to remain professional at all times. In respect to your own manager, adopt a no-surprises communication policy. No manager wants to hear (especially in-front of their own manager) that the team is not performing to expectation – if there are issues, raise them early, probably in private and be prepared with potential solutions as well.
Be aware of any corporate politics which may be at play across the organisation. Other managers or teams may not act with the expected level of integrity, so be vigilant to activities or behaviours which could be viewed as manipulative. Know where the power in an organisation lies – and it may not always be obvious from the corporate structure… You may prefer not to become embroiled in corporate politics, but you will still need to be aware of its existence so you can avoid or minimise its impact on you or your own team.
If you already have an established team, recruitment and induction maybe less of an issue. But if you need to build a team – then these skills become critical. Assuming potential candidates have met the required level of skills and experience, recruit for attitudinal and values fit; other specific job skills can be taught on the job. This ensures you not only have the best possible talent in your team, you know their team-fit will be a good match too. To ensure your new team member hits the ground running, a comprehensive induction programme is required to ensure they are well aware of the requirements of their own role in the context of their team and the wider organisation – use this New Managers Essentials guideline to develop an appropriate induction programme for your new team member.
Taking on an established team may mean you may need to manage difficult situations and/or conflict between staff members. Use your company’s policies on conflict resolution as a guide. Act immediately an issue arises, always with fairness and objectivity with view to finding a solution that works for all. Encourage your team to debate the issue rather than the person, and to always look for a win-win solution. Any delay in acting upon any inappropriate behaviour can send a tacit approval of that behaviour, which can soon escalate to a level where even the most tolerant, finds the environment becoming very unpleasant. The result being productivity and motivation of your whole team can be affected. Ask those concerned - do you want resolution or do you want to be right? Point out that they can’t have both… Note that their ‘right’ is purely subjective anyway. The truth and the facts of the matter are not the same thing. The truth will be different for each person involved….
Being a busy manager means you will often need to delegate tasks and activities. Alongside ensuring that you provide the appropriate resources for the delegated activities, don’t forget to ensure you also delegate the appropriate levels of responsibility or authority. It can be very demoralising for a staff member to be delegated a task, but with no or very limited authority to go with it – they (and you!) will soon become frustrated having to ask permission at each key milestone before they can proceed.
Time management is now particularly important. Managing a team can take up 20% or more of your time – the larger your team, the more management time will be consumed. Effective delegation and good time management skills become very important to ensure you reach your own performance objectives as well. While you are responsible for your own team’s output – don’t forget your own training, development and coaching needs – are you getting the support you need to be at your best? Be proactive with your own manager to ensure that your needs are looked after as well.
Last, and certainly not least is building a successful team culture. Organisational culture is loosely described as ‘how we do things around here’. It’s that intangible, and critical aspect of an organisation that can make your time as an employee enjoyable or not. A manager who acts with integrity, is fair and who ‘walks the talk’ will always have the respect of their colleagues. Politeness is the cornerstone of all civilised interactions, and no-one wants to be subject to harassment, inappropriate behaviour or potentially defamatory remarks. So treat others as they would want to be treated – and at the very least that should be with professionalism and respect.
If you want some help to train any new managers on your team give me a call!