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The Toughest Job

As we head towards a Christmas election, we’re all looking at the performance and potential of the political parties that could lead us not just into a new decade but a new era for the UK.

Whoever gets the job will have an exceedingly difficult task to deal with the monster that is Brexit, the economy, social issues, international relations and a whole myriad of responsibilities and interests that come with being Prime Minister. We need an exceptionally good leader who can manage their “team” aka the government and ensure they’re all doing the jobs they need to for the good of the country.

On a more personal level, we all need to manage performance and outcomes to some degree – be that our own, our team’s or that of an entire business. Good management practice is easier said than done but if done right it can be the linchpin to stronger performance and solid growth. Ultimately the success of any business is largely dependent on how well each employee performs, and how they are managed will have a significant bearing on how they choose to perform.

So, what does good management practice look like? There are clearly thousands of books, talks, degree courses and podcasts on this topic as it is so enormous, but we wanted to highlight a few fundamental habits to consider and try out based on our experiences:

1. Be open to the reality that goals need to change as the market changes. If you set your team targets in December for next year, they could be obsolete by March. Be agile in your thinking and adapt them as needed. Let your team define the goals if it makes sense to do so.

2. Equally as with goals, be agile with your people and manage them as the situation dictates. Flex your style according to the person and their circumstances – a coaching style might be right some of the time, but there’s also a time and place for giving clear direction.

3. Focus on growing strengths more than picking up on weaknesses. If you are truly developing your people and harnessing the best they have to offer, you’ll see greater loyalty and dedication to achieving what you’ve set out.

4. Check in regularly. Managers who check in once a week, see on average, a 13% increase in team engagement, those who check in only once a month, see a 5% decrease in engagement! *

5. Get feedback from across the business on how your people are performing to better shape your development conversations. Multiple viewpoints remove bias and enables more specific feedback.

6. Let people figure it out for themselves. We hire people because we believe they’re right for the job so it’s important you show that you trust your team. This doesn’t mean stepping away from everything but offering them enough of the right information at the right time and giving them the space to figure things out for themselves.

Great I’m doing this but still struggling!

There may be times where you’re nailing all the above, but productivity and motivation are still suffering. There’s almost always something behind this so you need to start asking some questions. Ask yourself whether you might be creating conflicting priorities. Or whether you’ve invested in sufficient support for them. Do you really understand what motivates your people and do you know what’s going on for them in their lives right now? These types of questions will help towards understanding the disconnect between how well you’re managing and how well your employee is performing.

We may not need to manage the country but being a manager and managing people’s performance is one of the most difficult jobs within business. You will not be able to nail every element perfectly every time. Remember to check in with yourself as often as you can on the practices that are essential to creating good performers. Am I setting and modifying goals as needed? Am I flexing my style to different situations and people? Am I growing their strengths? Am I meeting them regularly? Am I offering ongoing and specific feedback? Am I letting them get on with it?

Whatever the outcome from the December 12th election let’s hope the new PM can adopt some of these management practices with their cabinet and broader team, and maybe we’ll get more of what we want/need this Christmas.

* Source: The Nine Lies about Work - Ashley Goodall & Marcus Bellingham

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