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Managing pressure at work: Does your manager ever talk to you?

Many individuals become managers because of their technical skills rather than their inter-personal skills but are promoted to the top team nevertheless

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Many individuals become managers because of their technical skills rather than their inter-personal skills but are promoted to the top team nevertheless.

But how often do employees at all levels complain that their team or departmental manager does not know how to communicate with them in any meaningful manner. And so when Natasha, who is the production director for a packaging company in London told me last week that she has no time to effectively communicate with her team, I listened to her with interest. Was it that she had insufficient training in management skills or was it that her workload was so heavy that she simply had no time left to interact properly with those in her department? It is to find the answer that I address this ubiquitous problem today.

Effective people management is a problem that managers find difficult. It is however, an essential skill if you are to lead your team with confidence and achieve consistently good results. We know that businesses are having ‘to do more with less' and the only way that they will achieve this is by obtaining commitment and support from their team. You may not be able to increase salaries, but the business probably needs increased productivity from a staff reduced in numbers and that may mean longer working hours for no extra pay. So how can you get there? The answer is in good people management skills, and the following tips may help you to build a greater rapport with your team in order to reach your common goals.

Team-building tips

1. If you expect the best from people then you are very likely to get it. That may sound too simple, but it works in practice, although your agenda and your targets must be realistic. If you have unrealistic expectations and place excessive pressure on certain individuals, this could work against you if they perceive this as bullying behaviour. The secret is to encourage people to come up with ideas on how they may be better able to achieve targets, not reasons why they cannot do so.

2. You need to facilitate feedback. Individuals appreciate the chance to say how they perceive both you, as their manager, and also their job, and you may gain valuable insight from this. Team members need interaction with their managers and the other members of their team. And this is all down to good communication systems and practice.

3. Always make yourself approachable and available. Make time to listen and develop a reputation for being a ‘good listener'.

4. Reduce uncertainly to a minimum and give employees information about whatever may affect their jobs, their environment or their future. Even if the news is bad, it is better to be open and honest rather than keeping your employees in ignorance. At least with knowledge, they can start to come to terms with the changed position and start to plan what actions they may need to take. Uncertainty equals insecurity, and insecurity should not be the prevailing feeling in any workplace.

5. Be watchful regarding hours of work. You cannot expect 100 per cent output from anyone required to work a 12 hour day. Make sure that everyone takes proper breaks away from the job - however brief.

6. Encourage your team and all employees to make time to plan mutual activities and to improve working, and also social relationships and this could be by creating a group activity that takes place outside of work e.g. sports clubs, family days out.

7. Ensure that you and your team members have regular appraisal interviews while not forgetting that this is a two-way process. A time of talking is also a time for listening. But on both sides, a time for sharing knowledge and for co-operative growth and improvement.

If I were to ask one of your team members if you, as their manager, were interested in them as an individual, or just as a machine to do the job, I wonder what they would say? And then when you get into the habit of being actively interested in everyone around you, they will recognise that and react accordingly.

You may give minutes, but you'll get back hours. Try it.

Key Points

  • Effective business needs effective communication
  • Commitment needs recognition
  • A closed door also closes opportunity

The author is CEO of an international work stress consultancy based in London. She is a BBC guest broadcaster, motivational speaker and author of ‘Show Stress Who's Boss!' http://www.showstresswhosboss.co.uk

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