Managing a team of very diverse people, from eight different countries, spanning two generations has its challenges.
Over the last two years, I have slowly been learning how to be more effective in a management role, and while I still have a long way to go, there are a few things that I have picked up and noticed so far.
Firstly, every person is different, diverse and passionate about something, particularly in the creative field I am in. You are working alongside people who have other creative passions whether it be art, photography, music, or writing, and within each job role, it is important to note these passions and encourage them to utilise them in their job role where possible.
This diversity means that you simply cannot treat each person the same, and try and apply the same tactics to get the best out of each individual. Some respond to a gentler approach, where you point out problems or mistakes within a framework of “I know you can do better”, and there are those that want you to be blunt and pull them up when they aren’t doing their jobs properly.
Secondly, as a manager, one of the hardest things to work through with someone, is a repeat offence. I.e. when you have discussed performance issues with the employee, have given them a clear way forward, and they continue to make the same mistakes. In this kind of situation, it is difficult to maintain the patience needed to keep addressing the same issues repeatedly. This, I am afraid is one of my failings. I tend to get frustrated!
Thirdly, some employees have difficulty in accepting, or following leadership without having their voice heard, something I attribute to the rise of social media, where everyone can have a soapbox and gets attention for whatever they say. I feel that some of the younger generations are more likely to argue with their manager on small, rather irrelevant points, rather than just doing their job. I grew up with the idea that you don’t argue with your boss, unless they are asking you to do something that will violate your morals, safety, or the law. I feel that a road somewhere in-between is probably best. Argue the big stuff, not the small stuff. By all means curse at your computer screen behind their back, and mutter under your breath when they ask you to do something you don’t want to do however!
Fourthly, so much of your life is spent at work that companies should provide more employee activities, not just for the employees, but for their families too. Socialising with other staff members builds bonds and develops better understanding and care between employees. Every company should have an entertainment budget as part of their annual budget. I would love to meet the team’s children, other halves etc. With the amount of children around my son’s age belonging to other employees, we could almost start a playgroup!
Fifthly, you sometimes have to be a straight talker and upset people. As a manager you can be your staff’s friend much of the time, but, occasionally you have to step up and make sure staff are maintaining their standards and not slipping up on their work. The trick is to do it before the problem gets out of hand. If you try and be everyone’s friend, standards will slip, things will not get done, and you will end up looking like you cannot do your job, which impacts on your performance reviews.
It is also really important to check in with your team, make sure they are comfortable coming to you with issues and that they trust you to deal with those issues effectively. If your team doesn’t trust you, you won’t get the best out of them when it really matters, and being in a very deadline sensitive industry, it is important that the entire team can pull together and work hard to get magazines, supplements and client content completed on time.
Finally, one of the things I learned a very long time ago (while scrubbing toilets on yachts), is that you cannot expect your team to respect you or listen to you, unless you can do their job as well as, or better than them. If someone needs help, you have to be able to get down on your hands and knees and scrub the toilet alongside them, put in the hard work, show that you are just as ready to get your hands dirty. Oh, and one more thing, admit when you make mistakes, whether you are a manager , or an employee. Own up and don't ever try and blame it on anyone else. When staff/management try and blame mistakes on a colleague/subordinate/other manager it looks extremely unprofessional.
Average is not admirable. Always do your job to the very best of your ability. Your team wants to see your drive and your passion, not someone who is scraping by every day doing the minimum.