Wow! After news about Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea FC yesterday, it now appears a new short term coach has now been appointed in the form of Guus Hiddink. The Dutch former midfielder certainly has the pedigree of a good coach, having previously managed Fenerbahçe, Valencia and Real Madrid. His achievements include winning the European treble with PSV Eindhoven and taking both the Netherlands and South Korea to a fourth-place finish in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2002 FIFA World Cup respectively. You may want to read his fascinating interview on the BBC website about the challenges he faces as interim Chelsea manager.
The news about the changes at Chelsea got me thinking about how a good manager can become a really great manager and if Hiddink will be that great manager. Being recognised as a great manager is something that anyone in that position aspires to.
However, to get there requires more than just possessing the right qualifications or the necessary years of experience within the organisation or business sector.
Often the biggest roadblocks on the way to becoming a truly great manager is learning how to become a great ‘people’ manager.
Here are 5 Top Tips for managing people that any supervisor or team leader can use to help up their game:-
1.Managing people is a skill
You may be a great supervisor but without strong ‘people management’ skills you’ll never become a great manager. On their own, the things that probably got you promoted to a manager will not be enough to survive on in the future. It takes more than just your core technical skills.
A new higher level position doesn’t give you automatic permission to order people around and watch every move – would you have appreciated that in your previous role? On the other hand, as human beings we are often conditioned to seek the approval of others, so many new managers experience internal conflict in trying to maintain harmony. Their desire to be approved interferes with their ability to manage and make confident decisions.
Your people are relying on you to be their manager, which means that generally you cannot be their best friend. Providing clear direction, making the tough decisions and being respected by your people are the hallmarks of an effective manager.
Managing people well is a skill than can be learned and much will come through time and experience. So if you are not so good at it just yet, keep at it, the rewards you reap on a professional level will more than repay your extra effort!
2.Find the right distance
A micro manager can be a nightmare to work for! Their constant presence and checking up can rapidly destroy employee trust, lower morale and leave people feeling totally disempowered.
An absentee manager can be even worse though. They are often unavailable when an employee really does need help and guidance and their seeming lack of interest can rapidly destroy a team.
The perfect balance is somewhere between the two.
A great manager provides direction when needed but then retires to a distance, and they let their people know that they care and are keeping track of them by checking in with them periodically.
“The best leaders are the ones who have sense enough to pick good people to do what they want done, and the restraint enough to keep from meddling with them whilst they do it.” Theodore Roosevelt.
3.Guide first, coach second, discipline last
When dealing with their people, a great manager guides first. If a specific issue arises that needs to be addressed, is something has to change, they coach their employee about how to do that.
Discipline should always be a last resort, something that occurs when the employee has still not delivered on the action that was requested, discussed and understood.
Make clear agreements – your people may not be enthralled about every goal they are set by you, however a great manager makes sure that they set out specific, clear targets right from the start, so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
If you don’t know and then make clear exactly what you expect from your people, then how on earth will they ever know?
4.Have a plan
Many managers simply react to what is happening around them, jumping around “fire=fighting” the latest problem to hit them. Even very hands-on managers need to take time to plan each day and identify what must be done as well as focus on the future.
We all know the old adage: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
Preparation is the key to success at any level and effective planning allows everyone to be on the same page and work far more effectively as a team
The 4 key steps to creating an effective plan are:-
Determine with absolute clarity what you want to achieve.
The goal must be specific – you and others will need to recognise if and when it is achieved.
Once you have clearly defined your goal you will need to do the hard work of establishing exactly what needs to be done (tasks) to achieve it.
Every task needs to be owned by someone and just as importantly, they need to know that they are responsible for it!
For the plan to work, it’s important that every task is owned, that everyone knows what they are responsible for and have agreed to own that task.
This means establishing some time scales. By when is this goal to be achieved?
Working backwards, when will each of the tasks need to be completed by to ensure the goal is achieved within the planned timescale?
Planning is an essential skill for any manager and it greatly improves your chances of success, whatever you seek to achieve.
People feel most valued when they feel listened to, when they are consulted about their work or new ideas, and when they are entrusted with important information.
If you don’t communicate regularly with your people, both formally and informally – as a team and as individuals, the unofficial grapevine will kick in – and the rumours will almost always be far worse that the truth!
Some managers like to demonstrate they are in charge by keeping themselves distant or shut off from their team, and only releasing selective information on an ad hoc basis. This is a big mistake! You need to know what’s happening ‘on the ground’ so that you can make good, timely decisions and build positive and open working relationships with your people.
Remember that effective communication is two-way. This means asking and listening, not simply telling and informing.
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