Whether you think great managers are born, or made, it's accepted that they share a number of common attributes - qualities that aren't always evident in others. It takes special people to lead the way; highly skilled, organised and experienced professionals, who have energy, ambition and an ability to stay cool under pressure. These are individuals who can communicate effectively and successfully motivate their teams.
In short, you can't be a successful manager unless you can lead a team. In order for organisations to thrive and achieve their potential, they need fully engaged, committed and contented workforces. Employees must buy into the mission, culture and values of their organisation, appreciate the value of their role, and be willing to do whatever is asked of them. So crucially, they need to have a strong relationship with their immediate boss.
People skills are crucial
Where employees are at loggerheads with their manager, they simply won't accept the instruction, support and guidance they need to perform. As such, one of the most important tasks a manager faces is to gain the respect, trust and loyalty of their team members. If you're in charge, you're the one who allocates work, drives performance and tries to raise standards. You just can't do this if you're at odds with your staff, and never far from potential conflict.
So what exactly can you do to get your team members on-side? It's all about making a great first impression, proving your calibre as an individual, and showing you have the ability to take the reins. If you're moving into management for the first time, or starting a new job with a different organisation, you've effectively got a clean slate with the people under your command. This means you've got every opportunity to earn their unswerving loyalty and devotion, if you play your cards right. Here are a few of our suggestions as to how you might achieve this goal:
1. Show your ability
Employees are more likely to respect you as a manager if you are technically strong, have superb skills and have proven yourself in your chosen field. If they are experiencing difficulty with a certain client, project or task, it's great if you can step in and assist. If you're not capable of doing the work your team members have been allocated, to an equal or higher standard, you'll never really have complete authority.
2. Be a personality
There has to be a certain amount of distance between you and the general workforce, but at the same time, you should be able to engage with staff on a personal level. Allow employees to see who you are as an individual, outside the professional context, and show that there is more to your game than simply barking instructions. In the right situations, a little humour can break down barriers, but don't try to position yourself as the 'office clown'. You need to be someone that employees - at all levels, across different teams and departments - can look up to.
3. Arrive early, stay late
Always strive to lead by example. You don't want to be arriving for work when all your employees are already at their desks, and nor should you be heading for home while they are still working. As the manager, you need to show that everyone is in together - all for one and one for all. Longer hours are perhaps inevitable if you want to climb up the career ladder and become part of the leadership and management team. But at the same time, it is sometimes your job to rein things in. If employees are spending all their time in the office, you've sometimes got to tell them to go home.
4. Present well
We're not talking about your choice of attire here… although it's worth noting that your clothing choices set the tone for everyone else. What we're referring to is the requirement to get up and address your team members. Strong one-on-one communication skills are important, but you also need the ability - and confidence - to talk in front of your team as a whole. You'll be expected to provide instructions, deliver training sessions give the odd motivational speech. If you go to pieces in front of an audience, the chances are it will be your delivery, rather than the message of your presentation, that becomes the point for discussion.
5. Make decisions
In order to be a successful manager, you need to have courage in your convictions. If you sit on the fence the whole time, it won't be long before employees start making their own decisions and undermining your authority. But it's no good taking any course of action; you've got to do your research, consult with your staff and then make sensible, consistent decisions which stand up to scrutiny. If you make mistakes and have to change your mind, this isn't necessarily a problem; it's better to change course than persist with an approach that isn't working. But you can't afford to backtrack too often, as this will have people questioning your judgement.
6. Be collaborative
Employees rarely respond well to autocratic, power-hungry leaders; those who are determined to impose their own agenda, regardless of logic and reason. So be open, approachable and collaborative where possible - it gets people involved. If one of your staff members has a good idea as to how systems or processes can be improved, give it proper consideration. The change might make things easier for everyone and contribute towards the end goals of your team. You should seek input from employees on a range of issues. This doesn't mean they get the final say, but it allows them to voice an opinion and influence your decision making.
7. Tackle issues
If an employee raises a problem with you - whether it's to do with their career, workload, office equipment, personal life or any other matter - you need to do your best to find a solution. This might not always be possible, but it's important that you recognise the concerns of your team member and make a visible effort to tackle issues. Don't put things on the back-burner, hoping they will sort themselves out - you want your reign to be characterised by action, rather than inaction. This is particularly important in the event of conflict between team members. You need to deal with this quickly and decisively before the matter gets out of hand.
8. Be discreet
Following on from this, it is vital to be discreet when dealing with individual employee issues, maintaining confidentiality at all times. This is the case however trivial the matter. You want your employees to trust you as a person and feel as if they can share concerns in private. Once you breach their confidence, your working relationship is effectively finished. Not only that, but your reputation will lie in tatters too once word gets around.
9. Assist with development
One of your roles as a manager is to promote career development opportunities for your employees and support their professional ambitions. This means providing training, coaching and mentoring as appropriate and giving workers the chance to improve their skills set. You need to make sure they are aware of the progression opportunities available in-house, allowing employees to work towards promotion if they so choose.
10. Provide effective cover
A common gripe employees have with their manager concerns the level of cover provided when they take annual leave. If you are able to assist with their workload while they take days off or holidays, then do so. Any spare capacity you have in your working day - or within your team - could be used to keep things ticking over until the employee returns to work. This helps avoid major frustration and annoyance on their first day back, when they see the backlog that has built up. It shows you care.
11. Provide the occasional treat
It might be something as simple as a slice of cake, a box of biscuits, a round of fancy coffees or a drink after-work, but spending a few of your hard-earned pennies on your team members always goes down well. It's just another way of saying 'thank you' to your staff for putting the effort in, with the added benefit that it may encourage team bonding. There's no need to go overboard by making any grand gestures - just make a little effort to reward staff for their efforts.
If you can successfully get your team on-side, then everyone benefits. Both yourself, as the manager, and your team members are likely to be happier, more settled and more productive in the workplace. If everyone is pulling in the right direction you've got more chance of achieving collective goals, which ultimately can give a boost to individual careers.
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This post originally appeared as “11 ways to win over your employees” on the Robert Half News and Insights page.