I wonder whether you know the answer to these two key questions for all managers:
- Why would my staff want to work for me?
- Have I set them up to succeed?
If the answer to the first question is something like, ”because I pay them” or “because I tell them to”, well then, you could be missing out on as much as 30% discretionary effort over and above paid for contracted effort. That’s a very expensive approach. If the answer to the second question is, “I don’t know” then it’s time to rethink your approach to management and supervision.
Management is not just a job title – it’s a body of knowledge about how to optimise the productivity of your employees to achieve your business objectives. Management is the art of getting the work you are responsible for done willingly through other people.
As a manager, you are responsible for the roles, tasks and outcomes of your staff. So, I wonder then, how willingly do your staff work for you?
The simple truth is you can have the best materials and equipment in the world but it is people who make it happen.
In today’s blog I’d like to draw your attention to 12 essential and critical tasks that a manager needs to carry out in order to get the best out of their employees and, increase their overall productivity.
The first of these is focus and this is a critical task that many managers either just seem to take for granted or they are just too casual about communicating but, if an employee doesn’t know what’s expected of her or him then how can you as their manager or supervisor expect them to perform? You need to provide clear instructions and focus about the job tasks and outcomes required. After all you can’t expect anyone to do a job without instructions and, the clearer they are, well, the more likely it will be that they can be followed. Similarly, if you provide an employee with a clear picture of what the end result looks like or what they are working toward then, even if the instructions aren’t quite enough for some, the end picture or expectation will help them to do what’s required.
The second critical task is to equip your staff with the necessary materials and/or equipment they need to do the job. An example of this that often comes to mind when I talk about this is the inbound customer service enquiry role where a team leader may want the customer service rep. to handle a set number of calls per minute as well as enter data into the system. Yet they don’t provide them with the equipment to do the job – in this case a hands free headset so the rep. can talk to and handle the enquiry while simultaneously entering their data into the system. As an effective manager or supervisor you must make sure you give your employees the tools they need to do the job.
Now these first two management tasks sound pretty basic don’t they yet, this is where managers and supervisors most often fail their staff by not giving clear, unambiguous work instructions and then providing workers with the tools to get the job done.
Think about your own team and the way they work:
When did you last check or think about the work instructions you gave and did you link them to the outcomes?
When was the last time you took the time to check that all your team members or staff had the necessary tools to do the job efficiently and effectively?
The next critical and essential task in managing your employees is to make the effort to get to know each individual on their team – so understand what their personality is and what motivates them to work in the first place. Knowing this will help to ensure you structure the task and the team to suit each personality type and that you provide the right sort of motivation for each individual to ensure they get the job done.
You also need to make sure that you value the individual as well as make sure that each person in your team knows the importance or value of their work in completing the task properly.
Effective managers need to care for their staff and the work they are doing. Now this doesn’t mean you actually have to like them – you just need to care about the person doing the job you need them to do.
Another important task for managers is to provide opportunities for their staff or members of their team to develop new skills and do new things. Now this doesn’t apply to everyone of course. Some people are very happy doing the job they’re doing and they can be quite upset and distracted if you move them or change their job. But others really need the variety and the challenge of learning new things and doing different jobs
7. Listen and Hear
Managers need to spend more time listening and really tuning in to their staff and teams and hearing what they are saying. So this is actually listening to and respecting the views and advice of the other person – now, it doesn’t mean you have to agree or accept the advice – but staff respond positively when they know their concerns or thoughts have been heard and listened too.
Along with the earlier point I made about making sure your staff know the outcomes of their work it’s also a good idea to explain the importance of their work. So, ensuring people understand their significance in satisfying what the customer want and/or helping the business or company achieve its goals.
This sense of importance can then lead into a sense of pride and ownership of the workand it’s important that managers give their staff the opportunity to take pride in and/or be proud of their work if you can get the best out of your people.
Managers must be willing and able to trust their staff and/or their team. Integrity and trust is what it is all about. You have to be able to trust them and they have to be able to trust you.
Getting your people to realistically review and take responsibility for their job performance is another important task for effective managers and supervisors. This ownership and pride in a job well done also helps enormously when improvement is necessary – if you get people to accept responsibility for themselves, then it’s much easier to assist them to improve.
The last essential and critical task that a manager needs to carry out in order to best manage their employees is to challenge them – at least to the extent that they want to be challenged! Some members of your team will be happy to continue to do the job they’re doing well while others will need (at least from time to time) a new challenge to make sure that the work is not boring and, most importantly, to push staff with potential to use their talents more fully.