Are You Managing Your Manager?

Setting a Strategy for Good Management

There’s significant research to show that disgruntled employees don’t leave their company, they leave their manager. Great managers are worth their weight in gold, and can be difficult to find. If you don’t already have one, perhaps it’s time to consider establishing a new strategy for both managers and your approach to management? Pondering these six key areas should help.

Managing managers

1. Understand motivation

Managers need to understand what motivates each member of their team.

By doing this, they can begin to align their team members’ interests and careers with what the business can offer them. Do your managers really know their team members as individuals? What are their ambitions? What are their likes and dislikes?

Perhaps their team members want new challenges. Perhaps their priority is to increase their earnings. Whatever it is, a good manager invests the time to find out what makes colleagues come to work every day.

2. Personal Development

Based on their understanding of their team‘s ambitions and abilities, managers can then support colleagues to develop their strengths and tackle weaknesses. This can be done through mentoring, coaching, internal or external training courses.

It’s also very useful to create a personal development plan that managers and team members can work through together. Having a solid plan ensures clarity and people can clearly track the progress they’re making. This can be hugely energizing for both managers and their teams.

Most people need to feel that there is opportunity for them where they work. This may be the opportunity to develop certain skills, or to make a difference or to increase their earnings. Managers should be constantly seeking out new opportunities for their colleagues. These could be new responsibilities within existing roles or promotion to new roles. If team members don’t believe their manager is looking to provide them with opportunities, they may look for a manager who will.

3. Mission

Mission statements should reflect what the company is about. Your managers need to be able to express clearly to their team what the mission is and why it’s important. But that’s only part of it. They also need to relate the mission to a person’s own motivations. Without making this link, there will always be a disconnection between what the company is looking to achieve and what individuals want for themselves.

4. Environment

Managers need to take responsibility for creating a good working environment for their team members. This falls into two main areas: the physical environment and the emotional one.

Creating the right physical environment should be straight forward enough. Without the correct equipment, people won’t be able to carry our tasks efficiently, which will, potentially, lead to frustration. For example, your system developers may need serious processing power. Buying them inferior equipment will slow them down, frustrate and eventually de-motivate them.

The emotional environment is just as important. The way that employees are treated and spoken to is a powerful tool. Getting the tone right can raise morale, persuade, encourage and enliven. It’s worth investing time (and even training) in ensuring that your team members are being respected.

5. Communication

Without good communication, nothing productive can happen. Good managers have frequent formal and informal sessions with their team members, and informal one-to-ones every couple of weeks can also work well.

If your managers don’t have a good memory, encourage them to take minutes of every meeting, to be re-read before the next session. There’s nothing more demoralising than thinking that your manager wasn’t really listening! It’s also important for managers to prepare well before each session to make sure that all important areas are covered.

6. Feedback

A great manager will give honest and clear feedback. Framing is important so people listen to the feedback and can speak about it without feeling threatened or nervous. What’s more, urge your managers to look out for occasions when their colleagues perform exceptionally well or put in a great amount of effort. Praise and thanks go a long way to ensuring colleagues feel noticed and valued.

It’s essential to develop a strategy that’s right for your managers in your business. After all, the success of your company is closely tied to the success of your managers. In the words of the president of International Institute of Management, Med Jones, “a CEO’s performance is as good as the performance of his middle managers”. Managers need managing, and if you’re not managing them, who is?

About the Author: John Southwell is Managing Director of ETSplc, a 360 degree feedback provider and employee survey specialist.


1 Comments Are You Managing Your Manager?

  1. Apollo

    Managing your manager, very interesting view on what happens in the office. Never read it from this point of view, great post John.

    A good manager understands how to create the proper environment which allows everyone to work efficiently in a positive environment.


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