I was going to write about the lessons we can learn from geese, writes Emma Mitchell our Business Development Director, but found a bunch of other people had already done it. I’ll just point out when you see that characteristic V-formation you should know that the lead goose drops back when tired and lets another take point and that the formation itself provides optimum performance in flight. Geese are team players.
One of the hardest things for a new manager is realising that it no longer about ‘you’ but about maximising team effectiveness by providing vision and strategy and then using available resources to best meet those objectives. If you have been prompted to management because you excelled in a technical role it can be hard to let go, hard to let others do the work that you now organise.
Optimise team talents
It’s also important to realise that you run a team and should organise that team for optimum effectiveness and productivity. As a manager you don’t have to do it all, your job is to set objectives and run the team by coaching for quality and performance and offering feedback for continuous improvement. Ensure you harness the strengths of team members so that objectives are allocated to these best placed to meet them. It’s also smart to plan ahead so the team learns to cover for each other not just for contingencies but so far as possible to cater for the talents and aspirations of the team in terms of career planning.
Management is not a question of directing and analysing the performance of others. You need to be there to guide if needed but coaching and developing staff is where you will find a long-term pay-off. Marcus Buckingham says that great coaches understand people’s strengths, move them into positions and rearrange work to leverage these strengths, and coach them to build on these strengths. Nothing makes a person feel better about work than being able to be highly successful.
Recognition and retention
We know that one of the keys to creating an engaged workforce is continuous feedback and ongoing recognition. Many of your staff, the more experienced ones especially, want autonomy and will resent micro-management but almost everyone wants to feel part of team and to know that that their manager cares about them and their development. Making the effort to understand each team member and to work with them on their career plans will benefit the organisation in terms of staff retention. Deloitte found that “high-recognition companies” have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures.
At 10Eighty we believe you should focus on learning, on personal development, on building a collaborative and creative workspace and on investing in your people. Management is, by and large, about inspiring those you lead. Build a model of best performance and best practice for the team to learn from and aspire to and communicate your vision and values. Don’t manage from a distance, you need to let good people get on with doing what they do well but be there and be seen as a contributor not just a supervisor.
Buckingham, M., 2005, “What great managers do” Harvard Business Review
Bersin by Deloitte, 2012, “New Bersin & Associates research shows organizations that excel at employee recognition are 12 times more likely to generate strong business results” Deloitte Review