Written by NICOLA GATER
Line managers are key to an engaged and productive workforce but being appointed to the role can feel daunting. Sometimes, star performers are promoted to management roles because they are great at their job – but that doesn’t always mean they have the people skills they need to lead a team.
Employers who are promoting a team member to a leadership position should make it a priority to identify any training needs and ensure they are met. It’s also important to create a culture in which a line manager feels comfortable asking for support if they need it.
For any line manager, whether they are experienced or new to the role, there are some everyday basics to keep in mind throughout the working day. Here, our team have some top tips to help.
Restructure your own time
As a new manager, you should recognise that a large proportion of your time should now be spent on managing the performance of your team, and creating the perfect conditions for them to work to the best of their ability and produce the best team results. You will no longer be doing much of the work yourself! Let this go, delegate effectively and consider the value you will bring instead by dedicating your time to leading, rather than doing.
Recognise hard work
Recognition is hugely important for employee engagement – it will encourage and motivate employees. It can be as simple as sending a thoughtful email, note or telling your team members directly – the best part is that saying “thank you” or “well done” doesn’t cost anything! If your team responds well to incentives, reward with a gift, lunch or experience every so often.
Encourage open communication
Checking in with your staff often is essential to getting the most out of your team. Get to know them and find out how they are doing. Walk around, create an open-door culture or if time is tight, set a window in the day where employees can come to you with questions or just for a chat. Taking time to listen to each employee will increase trust and give you an insight into how you can help – particularly if they are overwhelmed with their workload or stressed.
You’ll be able to find out what they enjoy doing and what makes them tick – this way you can adapt your managing style for each individual. Some may prefer independence and autonomy and others may like instruction and supervision. But don’t micromanage every part of their role, let them have responsibility over important projects and their schedules – this can get employees working at their best.
Create a fun workspace
Mood and motivation go hand in hand – if your employee is feeling down, they’ll lack energy and concentration to be productive. A tried and tested mood booster is investing in the workplace – these days more offices are starting to look and feel like homes. Bring in a coffee machine, fresh fruit, snacks, even a chillout area – staff will look forward to coming into work with a relaxing atmosphere. However, you don’t need to spend time and effort “creating fun” but just make sure that you eliminate anything that might be creating a stifled, dull or overly formal environment.
Be more flexible
It’s not always possible for people to be in the office Monday to Friday and businesses nowadays are catching on. Line managers should be more relaxed about employees working from home or choosing their hours – your team will be grateful for your trust and be inclined to produce higher-quality work. Measure performance by what is delivered, not by how many hours are sat at a desk.
Set exciting challenges
Everyone loves a bit of friendly competition, right? Engage your team in small challenges – for instance coming up with new ideas for the business or a project. Remember to reward teams, not individuals. Fair competition will have your employees encouraging each other to perform better and boost morale in the office.
Provide opportunities for training and development
Line managers are often very busy and it’s hard to set aside time to monitor your employees. Not everyone is striving for that promotion – but it’s important to consider what they may want in terms of career development. Employees may feel stuck in a job because they aren’t aware of how they can progress. Work with your employees on a development plan and consider the training or mentoring they may need to reach their goals.
As part of their development, setting goals for staff will help them remain engaged and motivated – people with a sense of direction are more likely to perform well. Goals should be structured so they are easy to understand and easy to measure progress, they should be relevant to wider business goals, be motivating and a little challenging, and have clear timescales. Agreeing these goals mean both manager and employee know what is expected, and managers should communicate clearly the procedures that might apply if the goals and performance standards aren’t met.
Ensure employees are happy
Employees that are constantly stressed are found to be less productive and have higher levels of disengagement and absenteeism – they need to be happy! There are lots of things you can do to create a happier workplace – team-building exercises, going out for after work drinks or take a break to do something fun during the working day. But making sure workloads are appropriate, working relationships are good and the working environment is comfortable will also play a big role in employee satisfaction and wellbeing.