top managers

November 30, 2009

Top Managers – Experiencing the Sharp End

As managers, it’s easy to get busy doing the managing, quite understandably.

Yet there’s a lot to be gained from taking a little time where the real work gets done, where you team members are active – at the sharp end, where the action is.

Many managers are focused on the heady world of stepping out of the limelight and managing their businesses and teams from a distance – after all that’s what managing is all about, leading a team of people to do the work that needs to be delivered.

The challenge comes when a manager is sufficiently remote from the key work areas, that they find it hard to relate the reality their people experience to the management role they are showing to their team. And that remoteness can make a team ethic from being the way the work best gets done.

That’s when it’s important to get down and dirty and get with the people who do the real work. It’s time to spend some time at the ‘coalface’ and to really get to understand the experiences that their people have, each and every day.

Sure, a manager manages people and to do that best it’s vital to build relationships that work effectively with their team. To do that requires credibility and trust which only comes when those they manage know that they really do understand the issues they face each and every day.

Those very issues that make their job challenging and sometimes more difficult to do. Their job may become, in extreme cases, almost impossible to do well – and every manager needs to know this, finding out by being there, talking closely with them, failing to judge or argue, simply finding out how they are feeling and experiencing it first-hand too with and alongside them.

When a manager makes their mind up to get at these real-world experiences – where possible on a regular basis – of the challenges their people face, it becomes much more easy for their people to relate to that manager, as well as to understand what is – and even what isn’t – possible.

The view from the sharp end can be a lot different from that from the manager’s office way up in the executive suite.

The sharp-end is where it’s possible to learn more (often much more), providing a manager with the valuable – possibly even critical – insights vital to make the most of the manager-employee relationship. And that an incredibly important relationship with those who are ultimately, the people who deliver.

And there’s more, once employees see that their manager is prepared to get their hands dirty too, they will recognize their preparedness for the debates and discussion you all have together, creating much more of a cohesive team than ever before too.

A manager and team working closely together? Now, that truly is a goal worth working towards, now isn’t it!

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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December 8, 2008

“A leader needs to be in touch with the employees…” – Donald Peterson, Former Chairman, Ford Motor Company

“A leader needs to be in touch with the employees and to communicate with them on a daily basis.”
Donald Peterson, Former Chairman, Ford Motor Company

It sounds almost to crazy to say it, yet it’s true. Top managers have to be in a place where they understand how their people are doing all of the time.

It doesn’t have to be formal. It doesn’t need to be heavy. In fact it’s really good the lighter the better. It’s about your people being comfortable with you and opening themselves up (it might be little-by-little at first) as you do too.

Then you get signals on your sensitive radar.

How on earth else could anyone find out about what is going on at the sharp end of a business, other than communicating directly with them regularly?

How to do it? Well, it’s all about just getting out there, showing an interest in the people your business depends on. Listening a lot and saying much less. Valuing their contribution by hearing them and how they are feeling.

The first step is just to get out there and show an interest.

Prime your conversations, by asking questions likely to stimulate interest, then, let your people take the lead and talk to you. Your listening will be very attractive to them and they will appreciate it and say more.

By asking questions that require answers from them and avoiding the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that can come otherwise, you will truly find out what makes your people tick, one at a time.

Then work on keeping up your interactions with them – about anything – with a schedule of actions intended to maintain your visibility.

Developing long-term relationships with as many of your people as possible, is the very best investment of your time you can make.

Filed under Developing Your People, Great Quotations, Managing Me by Martin

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