Sunday, September 4, 2011

Small Things You Can Do To Be A Better Manager!

"The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager." ~Peter Drucker

Being a manager is tough, and every manager can use all the help they can get in this area. As is often the case, it is the little things that make the biggest difference in how your staff responds to you.

Effective communication with your staff is such a tenuous process and you want to make sure there are no obstructions. When talking with your employees, it is important that you do not sit behind your desk. A desk is a gigantic barrier that is both intimidating and nearly impossible to overcome.

A much better policy when communicating with staff is to come out from behind your desk and sit in chairs in front of it. By doing so, you remove the barrier between you so you can communicate without obstruction. It is a subtle gesture, but it goes a long way to improving your staff interactions. Some managers will have a table that they hold meetings around apart from their desk but I just like to sit face to face without any furniture in the way.

Another small adjustment to the way you communicate can help you become a better manager. Instead of just saying, “Jane, I would like to talk to you tomorrow at 10,” you should say, “Jane, can I talk to you at 10 about the status of project x?” Reason being, when you do not share the purpose of the meeting, the natural tendency of your staff is to assume it will be bad news, causing unnecessary anxiety.

That has certainly been my personal experience. In all my years in the workforce, meetings without a known agenda always caused me grief. I kept trying to figure out what my boss wanted to talk about, and I usually assumed I had screwed up in some way.

Just a simple statement about the meeting purpose alleviates the employee’s apprehension and makes a big difference in how they approach the meeting. In the short term, you will probably have a more productive meeting, and in the long term, you will strengthen your relationship with them.

I realize, however, there are times that you may not want to share the purpose of the meeting—if you have to let someone go, for instance. For great managers, these exceptions are limited in number.

The final relatively small thing you can do to improve your management skills and foster trust among your staff is to ask them regularly what you can do to be a better manager. Whether your staff responds to this or not—they most likely will not—asking the question tells them that you care about their concerns and are open to their suggestions.

I can personally attest to how effective this practice can be. When I have asked my staff, I rarely received any suggestions, but they frequently talked with their colleagues about how impressed they were with my sincerity and how they appreciated my asking for their input.

Now go out and look for the little things you can do to make you a better manager. Not talking to staff across a desk, sharing the purpose of meetings and asking how you can be a better manager are just a few simple ways to get started.

You can do this!

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