Good staff management is an art. A crucial element of running a productive business, it comes naturally to some, but for most it is a learned skill honed over years of on-the-job experience.
No one style is the ‘correct’ management style, everyone has their own unique approach and of course their own strengths and weaknesses.
It is impossible to become the perfect manager, but when it comes to managing your team, here are some key pitfalls to watch out for.
Some tips may sound contradictory, for instance how do you keep an open door and be a good listener while not being over friendly? For me being a good people manager is about finding that middle road and getting the balance right.
Provide clear direction, set achievable defined goals and ensure your staff understand what they are doing, why they are doing it and where they should aim to get to.
Give time to your staff to actively listen to what they have to say. They may have an interesting idea or they may need a supportive ear, an open door policy will encourage your staff to be open with you and if their suggestions are taken into consideration, your staff will feel empowered and valued.
Give feedback to your team regularly, waiting for review meetings to highlight issues only draws out and intensifies problems.
Missing the mark with motivation
Do recognise and reward employee achievements, and don’t limit them to just your sales staff. An incentive programme cultivates a positive working environment and helps to build long term commitment.
However, in order for incentives to work you must first understand what motivates your staff and contrary to popular opinion it isn’t always money! Individual incentives often bring the best performance.
Also be aware that the recognition is just as important as the reward.
Erratic responses, frequently changing practices or treating some members of staff differently to others will make it difficult for staff to trust you or for them to understand what you want. Consistency is key, be a manager that your team can rely upon.
On a wider scale, variations in management style between different managers can cause conflict amongst staff. Work closely with the other leaders in your business or group to ensure you all dance to the same tune – most of the time.
Delegation vs micromanagement
The further you travel up the leadership ladder the more you will have to delegate, and it can be hard to let go. But it is really important that you do, for both your sake and your employees.
Micromanagement undermines trust, motivation and responsibility, and it will ultimately wear you out.
Allow members of staff the space to take on new tasks, let go of the small details and just touch base every so often.
Make use of the people-power you have at hand, it will free up your time and enable your staff to develop their skills.
A poor example
Set working standards and always be seen to adhere to them yourself. Arriving to the office late every day or taking personal calls during work hours only opens the door for your team to follow suit.
By being the example, you will enjoy a much easier ride in gaining the respect of your staff.
A key member of the team has handed in their notice or business has suddenly taken an upturn, whatever the reason we have all needed to hire swiftly at some point. But resist the urge to rush.
From not clearly specifying the role, to leading interview questions or hoping that you will be able to ‘mould’ the only candidate that remotely compares to the job description, hiring in a hurry will ultimately bring more problems.
Slow it down and make your way through the recruitment process with care and attention. Don’t force a candidate to fit, yes there are certain things you can teach, but if they don’t possess the core skills then they may not be right for the role.
Simon Joyce is director of Anchor Vans