How To Become A Successful Manager?

by P. V. Sebastian

Posted on September 7, 2015 at 9:00 PM

No matter how great you are as an individual contributor, when conferred with the responsibility of managing people, there is a lot of learning and unlearning the first time people managers have to do. While it is not so easy to be specific about what one has to learn / unlearn, following are a few practices if followed might help to be an effective people manager.

Know Your Team: The more you understand the profile of each of your team member, the better it is for you to connect with them appropriately. The diverse background they all come from, the dynamic mind set they have, the habits they follow, the way they conduct themselves in different situations, their likes and dislikes, their preferences…the list is endless and so also complexity of managing the people. The more the People Manager knows about these aspects, easier it would be to manage the diverse workforce.

Team Knowing You: Equally important is for team members knowing you, personally and professionally. If they know you only professionally and have no understanding about your personal side of life, at times your conducts, feedback you provide, inference you derive may get interpreted differently resulting in unnecessary misunderstanding and disconnect within the group. It is not that they need to know everything around your personal life. But, it would do a world of difference if they have fair understanding of your personal side as well.

Team Synergy is your Energy: More often, first time managers overlook this aspect. Individual contributions are of course important. In order to be more effective as a department / function, the power of synergy needs to be understood and recognised at all times. People Managers must put in extra focus and effort to cultivate team spirit for increased productivity. A well knitted team is the result of an engaged workforce and engaged work force is always more productive. Sprinter Usain Bolt’s individual timing for his historic 100 meters dash at Beijing 2008 was 9.69 seconds. Great feet indeed! In the same venue, for 4x100 meters relay he and his team members clocked a timing of 37.10 seconds and won the coveted gold medal. What is pertinent for us is to recognise is that for the team event, the average individual speed was 9.28 seconds. Absolutely remarkable productivity in a highly synergised team environment!

Communication: Open, transparent and timely communication with the team is an important management practice that all people managers must follow. This approach builds trust and trust brings cohesiveness and engagements. Communication is also a process of knowledge sharing. A learning organisation is a winning organisation. I would encourage the people managers to learn the art of effective communication. Successful leaders are great in communicating with their people. It is not in using long sentences or difficult words that would make a person an effective communicator. It is in conveying what you want to convey so that the message is properly understood certainly by the person who is delivering the message as well are the receiver.

Appreciative mind-set: One of the most important virtues a People Manager must cultivate is an appreciative mind set. Your team will work for you with high level of commitment and dedication if you appreciate their efforts promptly. The power of appreciation is so strong, Gallup’s Employee Engagement survey carried out extensive research around this important matter. Check their Question # 4 of Q12..“In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work”.

It is not a fully understood question by most of the managers. Some of them even ridiculed the Q4 of Gallup’s Q12 by vociferously questioning why should they ‘recognise’ their team members every seven days? The spirit of the question is not about the exact “seven” day intervals, but inviting you to appreciate your team “seven times, seventy”. In alignment with Gallup thinking, I invite you, the people managers, to find reasons and occasions to appreciate your team!