Managing people—your employees and associates, for example—takes tact, skill, and drive. An effective manager is priceless within a successful business. Use the following steps to make your people management skills shine.
While there is nothing wrong or shameful about the title "manager," it's sometimes better to use a friendlier term, such as "leader." It is as much about how you present yourself and talk about your position as it is about how you view it yourself. Even if you still refer to yourself as the manager—which is certainly a fine title—if you think of yourself as more of a leader instead of a manager, it can often help change the whole feel of your management style. You're not there to boss people around; you're there to lead them to better productivity, efficiency, and pride in their work. It may seem like a small or insignificant change, but try it for a month or so and see how changing your language and how you think of yourself can positively impact your career.
We have all been in a position in our business where everything seems to be going wrong. Maybe a delivery has been delayed and now your customers are impatient or angry. Or perhaps there was a mess up in the kitchen, and some of your inventory was damaged and is now unusable right in the middle of your dinner rush. Whatever the crisis, it's always wise to retake a small step back, take a deep breath, and try to keep good humor in your arsenal. Yes, it's stressful and possibly expensive to fix the issue, but if you can show your employees your willingness and ability to try for some lightheartedness in a tricky situation, you'll be leading them down a path of positive outcomes instead of negatives. Don't get us wrong, we understand that there isn't always going to be something to laugh at, but showing only anger and stress during challenging times won't help the people around you. Lead them by example.
For the less stressful times, look for ways to brighten the day and keep spirits lifted. If you show this approachable and lighter side of yourself in the easy times, it will make the stressful parts much easier to handle for everyone. This doesn't mean you should suddenly become a clown and merrymaker every day, but it does mean you should find a way to inject a little humor into situations to help ease some stress.
Be clear and concise in your instructions, but be ready to answer questions.
People look up to the manager—their leader—for guidance, direction, and even approval. It is your job to provide clear and simple instructions so your staff and volunteers can get their jobs done quickly and correctly the first time. If you are getting a lot of questions from your employees, it might be a chance to revisit your instructions and see where the confusion is coming from. Technology can help you immensely in this aspect. Using task checklist software can save time and money by allowing each employee access to daily to-do lists where they can check off each task as they complete them. And if there are questions or the tasks need clarity, it's simple to make changes on one device, and it will be updated in real-time to all devices. That means less time talking to each employee individually about changes and less time updating every paper checklist in the building. For more information on digital checklist software, read this.
Your employees and volunteers are people. They have lives outside of work which includes families, friends, and hobbies. Sometimes those private lives also include emergencies and tragedies. A significant rule of successful people management is to remember that they are human and they may need to lean on you at some point. They need your understanding and support in both the good times and the hard, so carry yourself with respect and kindness, offering flexibility whenever possible.
When a manager takes the time to get to know his or her employees, the employees take notice. No matter the size of your business, try to become familiar with your staff. You should keep a professional distance, of course, but getting to know them each as individuals will help you in the long run. The team is more likely to trust your leadership if they feel like they matter to you.
It would be impossible to remember every detail about every staff member, so this is another aspect where technology can help you. When you keep detailed employee records in digital format, you can quickly and easily access any information at any time. It's also a time-saver when you can update one file on your mobile device and have that same record updated in real-time no matter where the other devices are. Here's a bit more information on employee record-keeping with digital tools.
It might be as simple as a steady paycheck or job security, or as complicated as learning the first step or two in a grand plan to open their own business someday. Whatever motivates your people, make sure you know it, understand it, and are willing to show your employees you're on their side. As a good leader, it is your responsibility to keep morale up and efficiency at its max. An easy way to do this is to find out what motivates each person, then try to include aspects of that motivation in their work tasks.
That might sound odd, but it's much easier than you think—and you won't need to bend time and space to be in multiple places at once. By adding productivity software to your business plan, you're enabling staff and partners to reach one another even if one or more people are out of the building. It's not just a phone call or a quick email—with the right productivity software, you can update task lists, employee files, and check on progress in real-time from remote locations. When your employees know their leader is just a few clicks away, it makes them feel more confident and secure. It might seem strange to add technology so deeply into your business model, but times are changing. If you want your company to succeed and your employees to trust you, it's time to evolve. If you're worried about adding apps and software, we have a great article to help ease your mind.