Good people management comes through experience. Courses will teach you the theories, but there is no substitute for day-to-day practice managing staff and their issues. Giving yourself a head start with a common-sense approach and a healthy respect for everyone you come into contact with can help to develop a happy and productive workforce.
1. Don’t micro-manage. Your employees were hired because they could do the job, so let them do it. Give clear instructions, recourse to ask for advice when it’s needed, and praise for the work they do.
2. Take time to get to know your staff. Understand that they have lives outside work, and that personal and domestic issues can’t always be left at the workplace doors.
3. Don’t ask staff to undertake tasks you wouldn’t do yourself, or to take risks you wouldn’t take.
4. Listen to suggestions. Ideas often come from people undertaking tasks on a daily basis. Give these ideas careful consideration, and reward staff when their ideas generate business, save money or increase productivity. Sing their praises at every opportunity.
5. Put the right teams together. A good team is more than the sum of its parts. Keep an eye open for signs of tension and disagreement in teams, especially if one team member looks constantly unhappy.
6. Cultivate an atmosphere of openness, not fear. If staff feel they can come to you, they are more likely to broach issues early, rather than covering them up and hoping for the best.
7. Give staff chances to develop and progress. Your retention levels will be better if staff feel they are learning and growing in a job with good prospects of career development.
8. Be approachable, but stay professional. You are a manager, not a friend. Be clear where the lines are drawn.
A good staff manager can make or break a business. Review and hone your people skills as an ongoing process. Don’t expect miracles from your employees or yourself. They are only human – and so are you.