Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Influential Manager

Don’t know if we all do it unknowingly as managers, but there is always a tendency to change working styles of team members to suit our own! Such as:

Meetings are held at times that work best at suiting the manager’s calendar – without consideration for the team member
Mails are sent in particular fonts & worded such that it suits the manager’s style
Operate in tones that match that of the manager

Effectively, managers try & make ‘CLONES’ of themselves via their team members! Net-net the team is headed for disaster (maybe some succeeded, an exception maybe). I’ve always believed that if two people in a room are always thinking alike, you are wasting precious time in finding a solution that you already want to implement. So how do you differentiate between good v/s cloning managers?

I’ve had a chance to work with a great manager who has greatly influenced my working style, cultivated thinking out-of-the-box habit and mostly importantly led by example by respecting & treating others with humility. Some pointers that worked best in improving me as a person both personally & professionally include:

Open Engagement Model

The open engagement model encourages team members to:

- Speak-up
- Bring their thoughts to the table
- Debate freely on solutions to a particular problem (unless you have a math problem with a unique solution!)
Ensure there is 2-Way communication, i.e., managers receiving feedback is as critical as handing out feedback

Excellent Communication Skills

Communication skills don’t necessarily mean verbal & written modes. There is a third kind of communication skill which is the hardest and that’s were Great Managers excel.
It is to resolve issues or problems in 2 parts: first, they ‘LISTEN’ to the problem thoroughly/completely & then get into ‘ACTION’ with practical solutions. The ability to involve listening powers with communication means that people will lend their ear to your speech; else, managers look like they are barking orders!

Excellent communication also involves precise data sharing, presentation skills that help to stay within timelines and engage audience in discussions.

Low Resistance to Change

Ask the HR of any organization about the people who deal best with change – very rarely will they say Managers! Surprising?

Great Managers understand that ‘Change is Necessary’, because eventually all individual growth plans, goals & efforts will only be as good as that of their Company’s. They have a low-resistance to Change, because they are able to reason & understand the need for such implementation.

As Jack Welch said - “If the outside world is changing faster than you are. You are losing the competition.”

Managers who are able to understand this – will definitely succeed!

Good Follow-up Methodology

Again the tendency is to allocate a task & bug the S**t out of the team member by asking for an update every minute of their existence. This can only lead to a disgruntled team member.

A more productive method that I’ve seen working very effectively would be to allocate work & DISCUSS/ASK the team-member for a reasonable timeline that they would need to complete the task. This encourages the team members to:

- Reciprocate the manager’s trust in them
- Get more organized
- Improve their time management
- Make predictable work estimations
- Ensure that there are NO surprises

Yes, even this can have ‘Check-Points’ when both manager & team members take stock of the work done. But, at least you give the team member some breathing space!

Brainstorm with team members

The success of managers is directly dependent on success of their team members. So to get the best foot forward in completing tasks; managers get the team to huddle in a conference room, cafeteria, coffee shops, wherever time-permitting – to discuss & decide on deliverables that would help the entire team to successful accomplishment the allotted tasks.

The HR Store