Olive Strachan North West Export Champion 2016
Inspiring Business North West
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6 tips for getting things done through people!

One of the most challenging aspects of being a manager is getting things done through people. Often, the reason why someone is promoted into a management position is because they are good at their job. To achieve your own personal objectives takes a single-minded determination to succeed; this trait does not lend itself to managing other people. Another common factor (drawback!) of line management in many organisatons is that managers have a dual role of achieving the requirements of their own jobs as well as managing others, which can cause conflict.

Having managed staff for 30 years, here are my top 6 tips for delivering through people!

1. Know your team. Often when coaching managers who are struggling with getting their team motivated and on track, I ask "how well do you know your team?" Unsurprisingly, there are members of their team who they like and get on well with so they can easily describe in detail this person's needs. But other team members are not so well known, time spent with your team in one to ones or staff meetings gives you valuable insight into who they are and what they want and need from you. Models of leadership often stress that effective leadership lies in what the leaders does to meet the needs of each individual and the team itself.

2. Learn and adapt. In conversation with managers they may discuss a certain employee who they have struggled with for years, and with whom they are not making any progress. We then probe into what tools and management techniques they have used to resolve the issue. It often turns out that they have continued with the same method over and over again in the vain hope that it will work. When informed that Einstein's definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results; the usual refrain is that “it works for me”. But the point is your staff member is not going to respond in the same way that you do. Adapting your style may mean a change in behaviour and sometimes that is not easy. However, a successful manager needs to demonstrate the appropriate leadership qualities and style at the appropriate time.

3. Coaching. One key role of any leader is to coach team members to achieve their best. As a coach you will typically help your team members to solve problems, make better decision, and learn new skills or otherwise progress their role or career.

4. Do not over-promise and under-deliver, particularly during performance appraisal meetings, when staff make requests that are not aligned to the organisation's goals or that are just not feasible. Rather than being honest some managers hint or give vague assurances. You then have an employee who believes what they have been told and is waiting for confirmation that, as agreed, their request is being considered. Many managers, particularly if they are managing a large amount of staff, hope that by just letting it drop it will soon be forgotten about. It may be by the manager but never by the staff member! Trust and credibility will have been lost - two things that are very hard to regain.

5. You can't be everyone's friend! Many problems managers face come from their quest to be their team’s best buddy, rather than their manager. When this happens, they become entangled in a web of their own making. Unfortunately, one day as the manager you are going to have to give feedback which may not be well received regarding quality of work, attendance, attitude or behaviour. Not everyone can separate 'my friend with whom I have a bond of mutual affection' with this person who is telling me what to do! It is a hard one, so I always look for mutual respect and try to be fair and supportive to all my staff.

6. Communication is key. Say what you mean and mean what you say! Ambiguity is the scourge of both staff and managers alike. One refrain that we often hear is "I keep telling them what to do, but they just don’t do it!" But ask yourself: how clear is your message?  Did you type out your request by email at 4.30 just before going home, so you could not be questioned?  Did you share enough information so that the member of staff had a clear vision of your exact requirements? It is vital in this modern age of managing remotely and managing virtual teams that we craft a skilful message, and that what you say is aligned to the company’s goals so that everyone has clarity. Also, give the other person the opportunity to respond and ask pertinent questions.

If you would like to know more about 'Delivery Through People', I will be delivering this programme on the 7th of July at our offices in Manchester:

Olive Strachan Resources
REGUS, Peter House
Oxford Street
M1 5AN 

Click here to find out how to book your place.

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