Effective manager

Some time ago Jeff Grout spoke to a MD2MD group on the linked themes of Leadership and of recruiting and retaining the best people.

Previous speakers, especially Wayne Clarke, have explained how ‘My (immediate) manager’ was the single most important influence on the extent to which people feel motivated at work.  And Jeff reinforced that message and there was quite a bit of discussion around how to encourage people to give of their best.  

Looking through my notes following the meeting, I drew out some key themes which I summarise below:

Tips on being an effective manager

Treat them as a human being

Show a genuine curiosity in them and their lives; almost as a friend about whom you care, including outside work. But don’t fake it.  They can tell.  And if you don’t have it in you to care about your staff, then you are not going to be a great manager of them.

Listen carefully to what is actually said

Many of us are too immersed in our own world and as a consequence don’t really listen properly.  As Nigel Risner, says “If you are in the room, be IN the room”.  In other words pay attention to the person you are talking to, not to the distracting thoughts your mind throws at you.

Consider what is NOT being said

Try to gently invite them to share in the conversation things they may not want to a say.  You may or may not succeed but with gentle and genuine curiosity, and carefully constructed How and What questions along the lines explained in this article on coaching you may succeed.

Consider HOW what is being said is being said

This is critical if you really want to understand the dynamic. There are messages in the precise words used, the way in which those words are spoken and in the accompanying body language which the sensitive manager will pick up, and may even bring into the conversation using phrases such as “You don’t appear very comfortable with that … ”

Don’t be afraid to be honest

We sometimes feel we have to guess how to get the best out of our team and we leave them to guess what matters to us.  But why?  Why not just ask?  What matters to you?  How can I support you?  Which can, of course, be neatly combined with being clear about what you want too. “This is what I need” and “This is what matters to me”.