Are you a good manager? Let us assume you are a confident and competent professional interested in your staff as people. You want to do your very best to help your team succeed in the widest sense. That means not only helping them meet their immediate work goals but developing them beyond so they fulfil their potential. And, if they can, you want your team to feel happy in what they do.
Of course, life is rarely simple. And, certainly, life at work can get very complicated indeed. As the boss, even if you are a very good manager, you find yourself sometimes dealing with conflicted emotions. Suppose you know you have an unreasonable deadline to meet. You have done all you can to change the decision that led to the deadline. Despite that, it is there: it exists! You have to meet it and you know it is going to be hard on the team. You’ve done your best to get extra resources but they are rarely available in the present climate. You doubt there is going to be any kind of financial recognition for the extra effort. You are just going to have to ask your team to do their best, even though it mean lots of stress on them.
What do you do?
Well, first, share the news. As soon as you are clear yourself about what needs to be done, tell them. If you can, tell them why the decision was made. If you want them to stay motivated, you will need to do this with care, if you, yourself, don’t think it is a good decision. Telling them your own manager is crap is not going to inspire them – as their manager that is your problem. Ask for their ideas on how best they want to approach the job.
Be prepared to help. People remember the senior manager who, when necessary, was prepared to labour beside them over a hot photocopier or to stuff envelopes.
Be clever in how you share the work out; remember to be scrupulously fair. Don’t overload your best person. Stay flexible and caring but be realistic. Ask people if they can make special arrangements to allow them to stay on at work, exceptionally.
Don’t take their good will for granted. Say please and thank you when you should, and mean it. Make the environment as pleasant as you can. Be present and engaged with people as they work. Do not be the boss who slopes off site at 6, leaving the team to finish the work. Ship in the doughnuts and ice cream if you can and be prepared to get people lifts home after work, if necessary.
Share the praise when those up the line praise you for getting the job done. Make sure you mention the contribution your team made. Remember a good team reflects well on you as manager.
If you can’t give the team formal recognition for what they have done, then make it informal. May be this is the time to think about planning that evening out that you have all talked about for a while. When review time rolls round remember the contribution people made, when you under pressure and you needed them most. A good memory goes with being a good manager.
Wendy Smith is a personal coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme. She is the author of “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters” as well as two novels and a number of articles on management and well-being. Her latest publication is a little eBook; “How to Get on With the Boss.” You can contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org