It is an unfortunate truth that most managers feel negative emotion when they think about managing people - fear, hate, dread, stress. It is an impossible task, isn’t it? You have either got the ‘managing people gene’ or you haven’t? You are either born a leader or you are not?
That’s lot of negativity right there - negativity that can make promotion to manager feel like a punishment rather than a reward.
But what if people management wasn’t a dark art? What if anyone with the right values, the right mindset and the right development, could not only become really good at it, but also feel the joy of it - the joy of building a high performing team who respect you as their leader.
What if there was a clear roadmap to follow, with nine straightforward steps?
Step 1 - Get your mindset right
I watched a lovely conversation the other day between Captain Tom Moore, and the former England football captain, David Beckham. Naturally they talked mostly about his phenomenal fundraising exploits, but then the conversation turned to leadership and Captain Tom shared his thoughts on what it takes to be a good leader. ‘I think you have to rather like people’ he said, ‘[You have] to realise there is good in everyone and as a leader you can bring it out of them.’
I share his view that people are full of potential. I believe that if you show you care about them as a person, that they will try hard for you; that if you believe in them and show them that you do, that they will start to believe in themselves, and you’ll be amazed by what you get back.
Of course, there are exceptions, but everybody has potential, and to be successful as a people manager it’s important to recognise your role as one of responsibility, not power
Step 2 - Recognise your own personal values
Understand and recognise what’s really important to you - the lines you won’t cross in living your life. Bring those values - those things that make you, you, to work, and live them every day.
Step 3 - Master your team building skills
Once you’ve recognised your values - your respect for others, your attention to detail, the way you are solutions-focused maybe - surround yourself with people who share them, and don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t. With the right people around you everything becomes easier!
Step 4 - Master your team’s performance
Don’t mistake telling someone what to do with giving them proper training. Make sure there is one right way to do every task, capture it in a 'How To' video (ideally) or paper guide, and then train your team member one to one, to do the task to your standard, giving them the 'How To' as a memory-jogger for when you’re not there.
Step 5 - Master your feedback skills
Training is one half of the high performance equation - the other is feedback. Don’t fudge your feedback. If you see something that isn’t up to your standard, tell the person it isn’t, and show them how to do it right. Feedback won’t incite emotion or confrontation if you focus solely on correcting behaviour.
Step 6 - Master your communication skills
Communicate, communicate, communicate! I’ve never yet talked to a team who felt they were communicated with too much. Be straight with people, always. Tell them how they are doing, how the business is doing, what you need to do as a team to improve, how well they’re doing…
Step 7 - Build a rhythm
Every team needs a rhythm - the daily huddle, the weekly round-up, the quarterly planning and pizza meeting, your quarterly performance reviews. Daily, weekly and monthly routines give rhythm and flow to your team’s activities and keep everyone focused on continuous improvement.
Step 8- Manage your own time
As a manager you’ll have your own work to do as well as ensuring that your team do theirs, so it’s important that you protect your time to avoid becoming completely overwhelmed. Get control of your inbox by setting two chunks of time a day to go in there and work on it - and never go in there first thing, because you could lose a whole day sorting something that really could have waited. In the same way create two 60 or 90 minute ‘team-time' slots when they can come to you to discuss their work if they need to - always insisting that they bring potential solutions with any problems.
And delegate whenever and whatever you can - not only will it free up your time, but just as importantly, it will help your team members to grow and develop.
Step 9 - Focus on continuous improvement and development
This is important for you and your team. Constantly pushing and challenging each other to improve, keeps everyone engaged and ensures that you have an energised and energising environment to work in.
As a manager you are responsible for getting the very best out of the individuals you’ve been asked to lead - to help them to fulfil their potential and mould them into a team that delivers results for the business.
How you handle that responsibility - how willing you are to learn how to do it well and keep learning every day - is going to dictate how well respected you are, how well your team works with you, and how much you achieve together.
An immense thank you to Marianne Page and the team at Practical Inspiration Publishing for allowing us to share this extract from Marianne’s new book Mission to Manage. Marianne is an award-winning leader and developer of high performing teams and the best-selling author of Simple Logical Repeatable, The McFreedom Report, and Process to Profit - a book hailed as ‘better than The E Myth’.