The many hats of the manager…. From an employee perspective
by Kurt Lindley
13 March 2019
This week’s blog is written from the perspective of being ‘managed’. What is it that employees desire from those that guide them?
We’d all recognise the need for managers to flex in the manner and approach they take in transitioning through successful and challenging business periods. From motivating existing staff to welcoming new team members, building a great TEAM demands a manager of many hats.
Managers as Sense-maker
In our leadership point of view, we’ve defined the behaviours and skills that exceptional managers and leaders bring over and above the norm. One of these aspects ‘Sense-maker’ is particularly pertinent to the employees perspective. Here are some examples of when ‘sense-making’ has benefited me as an employee:
The filter – protecting employees from all that could be shared, sharing only what should be shared. As a manager you will find yourself sitting in many meetings, being thrown volumes of information that can be shared. The challenge is to filter this and share only what needs to be shared.
Strategy for this: distill all you have heard, make sense of it and carve out the salient points. As employees we can find ourselves lost in the detail, which holds us back from ‘doing’. Work with each employee (or team) to identify their desire/need/preference for information and build a collaborative approach to sharing and reframing (how much is enough).
The translator– I had no idea what most of the words within the strategic and operational plan actually meant in terms of work for me. Taking the strategic plan and deciphering it into actionable tasks is a unique and crucial skill.
Strategy for this: walk employees through the strategic plan, show clear connections between this and the operational plan. But don’t stop here. Help employees see their role in this on a task level. What we really want to know is ‘what is that I need to do… what are my tasks and duties’? Helping employees see how they are connected to the organisational mission will keep them motivated as they see they have purpose but it wont tell them what they need to do.
The connector – the manager is perfectly placed as that ‘someone’ to join the dots of working with others, particularly when the others are in different departments. It’s amazing how easy it becomes to send an email to people but not actually connect over a task especially where shared interest exists.
Strategy for this: join people, projects and plans. But start with people. Introduce employees to those in difference departments who have a shared value for the connection. If this is a production line project, proper social connections between designer and builder can lead to saving in time, energy, money and often lead to a more cost effective process. But recognise this all starts with ‘connection’.
The fair but firm guide – yes being firm is a well needed but misplayed hat. Being to polite and forgiving can lead to loss of ground, under achievement and missed targets. Overplayed this leads to resentment and tension. Finding that balance if the magic of the middle ground.
A strategy for this: ask your employees what a ‘telling off’ should look like. I their eyes both what are the points of ‘check-in’ on this spectrum and at each step what is an agreeable ‘form of check-in’. This can be from a subtle ‘how’s things going’ – asked with curiosity vs. ‘How’s things going’ – asked with a desire to quantify progress. All the way through to 1st formal warning. Creating this shared approach should help you both avoid going beyond stage 1 check-in.
How we see this in sport
Taking a look into the sporting world, we can see some of these ‘hats’ or ‘faces’ being played out. Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp is known to be a bright thinker with great emotional intelligence, this enables him to connect with people. In this quote from an article in the Guardian (May 2018) you can see some of the ‘hats’ being described…
the many faces of Jurgen Klopp
“Look, I am an absolutely normal guy and sometimes I want be their friend. Sometimes I have to be a teacher. It’s not so difficult to find a moment to be a friend or … well … [Klopp laughed] a North Korean dictator.”
Knowing when to pay which ‘hat’ is a skill in itself, Andy Robertson, the Liverpool left-back shared;
“the gaffer uses humour very cleverly. If he feels the lads are uptight or things aren’t going our way he’ll relieve the tension. He’ll crack a joke or you’ll hear his big laugh. He’s a fantastic manager who knows exactly what to do and when to do it”.
When working with Leading Edge you will have access to ‘Team Coaches’ who themselves have the ability to wear and use many hats, from ‘executive coach’ supporting individuals move forward, to ‘facilitators’ of change, leadership and team development. Using their ‘Learning Expert’ hat they create immersive experiences and offer ‘Business Consulting’ to get the best out of your investment/people.
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