07/05/2014

By Carolyn Blunt, co-author of Delivering Effective Social Customer Service,

Most people imagine that managing their own team will be an enjoyable and self empowering experience. Done in the right way this should be the case but more often than not management can leave you feeling like all you do is fire fight a variety of situations and that at the end of the day you have accomplished very little and your head is left in a spin.

One of the best bosses I have ever had was down to earth, approachable and at the same time was businesslike and professional and commanded respect. So what do you need to do to become this kind of boss and become a leader that people admire and can relate to?

1. Do you give consistent and constructive feedback?

As an effective manager you must give both positive and constructive feedback, so that all of your team know the standards required of them. Any positive feedback should be specific, public and of course be genuine. Look for something to praise each member of your team on every day and rotate the team member receiving the praise fairly. Some days you may find yourself having to go looking for things to praise but it is a good habit to get into. You could ask your customers for feedback, listen to conversations happening around the office, and ask for ideas and opinions. As well as making your employee feel more valued all of this will create opportunities for you to praise constructively.

2. Don’t be afraid to give corrective feedback

It may seem contradictory to be discussing corrective feedback when we want to motivate and inspire our staff but ask yourself this: If you don’t give corrective feedback what happens?

You may have a team member who cruises and their work is below standard and yet for whatever reason, you don’t address it. Your star performers pick up the slack but slowly and surely they become (quite rightly) disgruntled at having to do so. Other team members start to think ‘if they can get away with it so will I’ and a culture permeates where it is okay to have longer lunches, arrive a little later, leave a little earlier, spend hours on social networking websites and make long personal phone calls. All of these erode productivity and ultimately the team, department and organisational performance.

If your feedback corrects the issue that needs correcting early enough you will gain respect from the wider team and you won’t be in jeopardy of instilling the wrong kind of work culture in your business.

3. If you dislike giving ‘criticism’ think of it as ‘adjusting feedback’.

A member of staff has drifted slightly off course but you are sure that with the right kind of feedback you can get them back on track. If you give the right type of feedback quickly, you can ensure that your team member will not have deviated too far. If you wait too long, you will have a bigger problem on your hands.

Follow this simple structure:

Ask for permission to give some feedback. (They will be used to you doing this and don’t know if you are going to give praise or adjustment. If it genuinely is not a good time agree a suitable alternative- but it must be that day)

• Tell them what you saw/heard (this keeps it to specific behaviour not personality)
• Ask them what they are going to do about it (or to soften ask what can we do about that?)
• Agree together a way forward and ensure this is followed through.

4. Think about the three words: People, Task and Process. Which are you spending your time on?

People
If you have a preference for ‘people’ you will be concerned with ‘helping’ others and will not wish to be seen as ‘cold’ or ‘unfeeling’. You will empathise and be considerate but the downfall can be if you become totally immersed in people issues, leading the other parts of the triangle (task and process) neglected.

Task
If you have a preference for ‘task’ you will be focused on achieving results, have a strong sense of urgency and be assertive. However, others may see you as competitive, controlling and blunt. You have to make sure that you don’t become so focused on getting things done that the people and process elements are overlooked.

Process
If your preference is for ‘process’ you need to get things right. You will be focused on correctness, order, logic and have a strong sense of fairness and personal integrity. You would rather be right than be popular! However if you are too task focused you can be seen as unemotional, detailed and cautious. You will go out of your way to minimise risk and conduct lengthy analysis if needed –even if the task and people elements are suffering.

In an ideal world you would have an element of People, Task and Process in your leadership style. This however is quite unrealistic and as long as you are aware which best describes your own style and you make the effort to incorporate it with the other two, you will find that you are on the right path to becoming an approachable, businesslike and ultimately successful leader.

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