Having had the opportunity to work with and under several managers and drawing from my experience as a leader, there are a few tips I would like to share with you if you are a manager looking to improve your leadership skills. Even if you are not a manager but looking to grow into that role some time, then it is always worth preparing yourself for when the opportunity comes up. You do no want to feel so pressurised in your leadership position that you ignore the effect and impact of your position on the members of your team.
- Have favourites within the team: It goes without saying that once favouritism starts to show within the team then that is a recipe for breaking up the team. No one wants to know that they are not your favourite team member. Even if you have a favourite team member, keep it to yourself. Do not flaunt it in emails and communication within the group. It will only cause bad blood and draw the team further apart and you do not want that to happen.
- Put more emphasis on documentation rather than communication: That is simply, do not send more emails than talk to your staff. Spend more time getting to know your staff and getting to know what they would like improved to make everyone in the team better. Sending five page emails asking your team for ideas on how to revamp or motivate the team will not work. They will just completely ignore your mails! Go out and speak to people and your team members, when they are caught off guard you might probably get more information from them.
- Feel threatened by your staff member: Even if you are threatened by them do not make it obvious. By threatened I am not talking about physical threats. You know that moment when you find out that you hired someone who is smarter than you? Yes that is what I mean. Rather than feel threatened by their abilities or qualifications. Try to harness it and see how you can help them as well as yourself grow within the company. Trying to put them down all the time in order to make yourself feel superior or look smarter will only make them retreat and that way you will lose valuable ideas you could have utilised.
- Discuss team member’s salaries and personal information with other team members: This might sound shocking but some employers actually do that. I was told by an individual not too long ago how her team become dysfunctional over a similar discussion. Apparently, Team Member A’s salary had been discussed between the manager and Team Member B. It was during this discussion that Team member B realised that although they were carrying out the same job, she was on a lower salary than Team Member A! Your guess is as good as mine about what happened following that discussion. As a manager, having this unnecessary discussion with another team member will only cause bad blood within the team and should not be done. Apart from that, privacy issues should also be taken into consideration. Salary information should be kept private except where all your team members are on the same salary. All the same, there are other things you can discuss with team members outside salary information.
- Discourage staff from having a work/personal life balance: Granted, work needs to be done and sometimes it might take longer than the daily 9-5 attendance to get the work done. However, do not make it clear on a continuous basis that staff are expected to work Saturdays and late evenings. This will only drain people out and reduce productivity amongst your staff. Instead encourage them to get things done during the normal working hours to avoid having to stay back late to get work done. Avoid praising that one who stays back till 9pm to get the work done that someone else has done during their 9-5 working day. Instead, find out why it is taking them so long to get the work done. If people are able to get a work and personal life balance then they can function more effectively.
- Keep malice with your staff: This might sound really ridiculous and childish but I have seen and heard this happen. A friend told me about an incident where, after a run in with her manager, the manager refused to say hello to her or even speak to her regarding work matters. Instead, preferring to use a third party for any communication. If you have issues with your staff then you need to call them and speak about it rather than pulling faces. As a manager this is not a good representation of your leadership skills ad that attitude cannot help a team function appropriately.
- Micromanage: This is one of the biggest leadership mistakes you can make as a manager. Not giving room to your staff to do their jobs using their own initiative makes it impossible for people to work to their highest capacity. If you are looking and watching every little detail, crossing every t and dotting every I of your staff members work, then the only thing that you can get is sub-standard work. This is simply because, the staff members always have it at the back of their mind that you are going to find faults in their work anyway so they do not bother doing it right the first time. I am not saying that you should allow the company send out work that is sub-standard or not of the highest quality. What I am saying is that if you make people responsible for their work then they will strive to produce the best. I have heard about managers who draft emails for their team members just because they want to control everything, this is ridiculous.
- Not carry your staff members along: Nothing can kill a team as much as lack of communication. Take for instance, members of your team come into work one day to find they have a new member of the team they never knew anything about. How do you think they will feel and what do you think their relationship will be with the new member of staff? If you are going to make any changes in the department that you think will affect your staff in one way or the other then you have to let them know. Yes it is your choice on who to hire and when to hire them but keep people informed. You can’t just introduce a new team member at a departmental meeting! Carry your team members along and you will have a more supportive team.
- Back down on their words: If you say you are going to promote someone then do it. If you say that you are going to send someone on some kind of training then do it. This is not saying that sometimes there might not be reasons to cancel an already planned event. That is, there might be a reason why you may not want to carry on with that promotion but if there is none then please keep to your words. If things have changed then be sure to keep the relevant party or parties involved. There is no worse feeling than being promised something in your interview or in the course of your work that could progress your career and not seeing that happen. This happens all the time when managers are trying to get employees in by all means and end up promising things that do not exist. This just makes the employee lack any motivation and have nothing to look forward to.
- Look down on your staff: The bigger the line you draw between ‘you’ and ‘them’, the wider the communication gap. I recently heard about how a certain manager had signed up to go on a course. When he realised other members of staff who he thought were below him were going on the same course, he went to see the training coordinator, took his course form, crumpled it and threw it in the bin and said he wasn’t attending the course. I mean, what do you expect the other team members to think or feel? It is just a course for crying out loud! If that manager had viewed things from a positive perspective, he would have seen that training as a good opportunity to get to know his junior staff members in a more relaxed environment.
Always remember that having a managerial title does not equal leadership. If you are unable to lead your team effectively then you will end up with a disintegrated unhappy team who will eventually leave the company. This will mean that you will spend valuable time and money trying to recruit someone else who may end up leaving if you do no change. So, I hope these tips help you become a good manage and leader within your team.
If you have any more examples or experiences you would like to share, please feel free to leave your comments in the box below. Thanks for stopping by!