Top tips for managers everywhere

Our practical tips series for all managers - wherever you are

Top tips for managers everywhere

Team performance

Managing people isn't always easy. Would you like some fresh ideas?

Each Tuesday we publish a practical tip for you to help manage your team and team performance on our LinkedIn page. Here you can get a month’s worth of ideas on one page

Developing team performance for more agile, innovative organisations

Good fences make good neighbours

Boundaries are important things. They can show where your garden starts and finishes. Where your responsibilities end. They stop children thinking they have a right to get their own way. They allow each of us to put ourselves first and rest or relax. Setting boundaries at work means saying yes and saying no. As a manager, you have authority to set some boundaries not just for yourself but also your team. When you set boundaries you can make a difference to how well your team works and how valued they feel. So boundaries can be a powerful, positive force.  This tip – and the ones below – are all taken from our weekly Tuesday’s Top Tip series on our CLS LinkedIn page   

Allow and encourage your team to set boundaries. Not everyone likes boundaries. We all know people who are happy to mix up work and leisure, who will work at different times whenever it’s needed. That is absolutely fine for people who prefer to live and work like that. Not everyone does though.

Your task as a manager is to make sure your team set the boundaries they need to. If you expect your team to be on call all the time, they will be exhausted and stressed. Appropriate boundaries allow people to create a stress buffer zone and encourage well-being. Make sure your team know that you want them to take time for the rest of their lives. Working from home can create stress and problems, so have the conversation with each person about availability and how they can manage their priorities without feeling guilty. Choosing to switch off work email, text and calls should be a positive decision.

Set a good example and encourage your team to follow it. And if you’re the manager who works all the time? Just remember to honour your team’s individual boundaries. If you want to read more about the benefits of boundaries, try this article

We are all different. we are all individuals

When you are under pressure to deliver it’s easy to just issue an order and expect everyone to get on with it. It takes time – and effort – to remember that everyone communicates differently, works differently and is motivated by different things. So you need to issue an urgent request in writing and by phone? Do it. You need to spend a few minutes asking someone how their family is before telling them what you need? Do it. It will pay dividends in the long run. 

Everyone in your team is an individual. One of the things we have discovered over the last year, is that it’s difficult to know how people are feeling when we only see them online. Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep in touch with each of your team and talk to them individually. A call to ask “how are you?” can be just what one person needs to feel connected. Another might prefer a more formal discussion.

As the team manager, your challenge is to find out what each of your team prefers, and then provide it. What works for Ann is unlikely to work for Karl. Remember too that things change. That person who is so self sufficient you don’t have to check on them? They might be feeling isolated now and would appreciate you reaching out to them.

We regularly use psychometrics, like DISC, MBTI, HBDI, to help managers understand themselves and their team members. Managers need to work at adapting their style to suit each person in the team and psychometrics do help with that.

Find a reason to talk to each of your team this week, ask how they are or what they need from you. They will appreciate it. And if you want to be even more skilled at managing your team, do get in touch with us.

Take good care of yourself, take care of others

When your to-do list is 14 pages long, when everything is both urgent and important, it may seem impossible to step away from your desk. There is good evidence that reducing stress increases focus and productivity. Whether it is by reducing hours, length of working week, giving people more control over decisions or how they work, there is a strong case for reducing stress to increase performance. Your challenge is to find ways to take care of yourself first. Until you can do that, you will struggle to take care of your team. 

Look after yourself. When you look after yourself, you become a better manager. You have so many roles to play every single day, at home and at work. You need to take good care of yourself if you want to be yourself in each of these roles. Taking care of you, also means you set an important example to your team. People who take care of themselves are more likely to perform well at work, deal with situations calmly and manage their stress effectively. As a manager, child, parent, spouse, friend, neighbour, you need to look after yourself and encourage your team to do the same. You will all benefit and enjoy your work more.

Today’s challenge is to find 3 things you can do to take better care of yourself. Get outside, finish work on time, get better rest – come up with your list of 3 things and plan how to do them this week. For further reading try this article.  

we walk and run just one step at a time

We have been telling ourselves for years that women multi-task and men don’t. It may be true, it may not be. Whatever the truth is, the verdict is in and it is that focusing on a single task is the best way to go. It gets the work done, helps you keep to the standard needed and gives you a sense of achievement. How long you focus on one thing for is up to you. In this era of 140 characters and 30 second sound bites, you might find that focusing on one thing for an hour – or a day – makes a wonderfully refreshing change. 

Multi-tasking is dead. When you need your team to work effectively, you need to encourage them to focus. Trying to juggle several different things at the same time sounds great yet too often it just does not work. Your team can manage priorities more efficiently if they pay attention to one thing at a time; whether it’s for an hour or a day is up to you and them. Mentally running from one thing to the next is not good policy. Encourage your team to schedule time for specific tasks and then focus on that particular task. It really is OK to switch off emails and phones if you need to concentrate on a project. As team manager, that means you might need to give permission for that and practice it yourself.

Encourage mono tasking to help your team focus and stay on top of their work. It may take a little getting used to but it is absolutely worth it – you will be pleased with how much you feel you and you team have achieved. For a little more reading, try this

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