14/10/11

By John Pooley, Managing Director, The Data Partnership

Take a look around your office. Are your employees sitting there with a dejected expression on their faces? If so they might just be suffering from ‘Lewis Hamilton syndrome’.

What’s this, you ask? According to recent reports, Hamilton’s father has cited the lack of management support as a key reason for his poor performances on the track this season. Could a lack of management support be hampering your employees’ performances as well?

Low morale, poor decisions and stress are common and natural parts of the working environment, but so are the office banter, the buzz of hitting sale targets and after-work drinks. A business runs in cycles, both over the short and long-term, however when the ‘lows’ become systematic and start to outweigh the good times, you need to find out why. It’s human instinct to look to the external, uncontrollable factors first; however the time comes when a strong manager will turn the spotlight on themselves. Quite often part of the problem can be rooted in a lack of management support. While throwing your employees in at the deep end is, arguably, one of the best ways for them to improve and learn, you need to know when to step in to prevent the metaphorical drowning.

Naturally, not all employees require the same level of support; some will thrive with little managerial direction, others will need more day-to-day support. But there may be times when even the most independent of employees need some gentle reassurance. The simplest confirmation that they are doing a good job and are on the right track can often be enough to maintain confidence and morale.

Arguably, the most important and influential thing a manager can do is regularly sit down with all their staff, on a one-to-one basis, and have a discussion about how things are going. It doesn’t have to be a formal sit down in your office - over a drink or whilst making the tea works just as well and can be less intimidating and more informative in the process. From this, you should be able to quickly gauge if they need any additional support and where, if any, the problem areas are.

Where management support is often most valued by employees is when the proverbial hits the fan. The calm, clarity and context that only an experienced manager can bring to a situation can be enough to steady the ship in an instance. It’s easy for those without the experience to lose perspective of the task in hand and consequentially see stress levels rocket. By stepping in and taking control of the situation you can win their respect and remind them that you’re on their side.

With the wheels coming off Lewis Hamilton’s chances of another F1 Driver Championship, don’t let a lack of management support put a puncture in your company’s ambitions!