Real tips from a real manager – support your staff.
A while back, I explored the top paying jobs of 2012 and noted that 6 of them involved management positions. Assuming you want to climb the corporate ladder to that first management rung, you might be interested in hearing a few tips from a retired manager. Here are my tips on developing and promoting your team and dealing with that dreaded task of firing a staff member.
Develop your team.
Encourage team interactions.
Teams that work well together are more productive, happier and better trained. While you may be tempted to tromp on team mates visiting with each other during work hours, a certain amount of that is inevitable and necessary for smooth team functioning.
Encourage team conversation, brainstorming, activities, humor.
If you have team meetings, make sure they are interactive (and purposeful). There is little worse than pulling otherwise productive people into meetings where you dominate the conversation and their eyes glaze over.
Help your team feel comfortable contributing by making it easy for them to brainstorm. A relaxing environment – with toys to fiddle with, and a trained facilitator (which could be you) help immensely.
Impromptu team activities help build team spirit. Given the freedom and encouragement, your teams will come up with their own ways to inject humor and fun into the workplace.
If possible, use team outings occasionally to also build togetherness. Team lunches, after work activities and sometimes even activities during work hours can be used.
Once a team I worked with had a client that was becoming very dissatisfied. To alleviate the situation, my peer manager arranged intentional activities to build the relationships between client members and team members. Together they went to visit museums, rode around the zoo on Segways and drove go-carts around the track. You know what, it worked! The client and the team became happier with each other and started back up the path to productivity together.
Provide success criteria and measure fairly.
In order to be successful as a manager, your team needs to be successful. In order for the team to be successful, each member of the team must know how success is being measured. Your success measures must align with the company’s.
If you are measured on how many widgets your team puts out, let each member know what your specific expectations on number of widgets from them are.
If you are measured on increasing the company’s bottom line revenue, let each member of them team know how their activities contribute to to increasing revenue and if possible show them exactly how much they helped to increase it.
If you are measured on the professionalism and attitude of ownership your staff demonstrates, make your philosophy known on how a professional behaves and what an ownership attitude means.
I once had a Vice-President as an immediate boss. He firmly believed that demonstrating ownership of the company extended to making sure that the bathrooms were clean and that the security locks on the doors were functional. He didn’t hesitate to get up on a soapbox to let us know about these beliefs either!
Give feedback and welcome it from all. Don’t play favorites with your buddy or best producer. Use the skills of each member in the fashion that will benefit the team the most.
Don’t expect to be one of the team.
You are the boss, you do have to evaluate, encourage, hire and fire. No matter how much you want it or how hard you try, you will not be part of the team that you manage. You can be part of a different team though. Your management team.
Promote and represent your teams in the company.
Fight for interesting projects.
Keep your ear to the ground to hear about upcoming opportunities and get the word out that your team is a can do unit ready to tackle the high risk, high visibility projects successfully. Let your staff tell you what kinds of work they want to do, and help them develop the skills to be able to do it.
Suggest projects for your team that will benefit the company bottom line and strategic goals (ones that are interesting to the team as well!).
Promote your teams accomplishments.
Make sure your own chain of command is aware of what your team contributes and what it is capable of. I used to make a list of team accomplishments and go over it in my annual review. My success was dependent on what the team accomplished, not on my individual achievements – yours will be too.
Use the fire power if you need to do so.
At times, even after you have given a staff member every chance to perform well and every opportunity to learn and grow, he or she just isn’t doing the job they are being paid to do. In that case, the company expects you to take action to terminate or transfer the staff member, and your team expects you to uphold the integrity of the team by getting someone who does do the job in there instead!
I’ve had to fire just a few people and here are a few of the things I learned during that not so fun process. This is not a comprehensive list and you need to abide by the laws governing your jurisdiction and your company’s policies – so consult the right people if you are called on to terminate.
Know the law and company policies. You are responsible (yes personally liable) if you do not follow both when terminating someone.
Use the human resources department. They can and should help.
Document, document, document. Write down the plan, write down the action items, write down the results, write down the performance review discussions and share them with your HR representative. Utilize their forms and procedures to ensure you stay within the law and company policy.
What things do you do to support your team and staff? What tips do you have for developing a team?