Management comes with power, and with power comes responsibility.
Leaders may create the organisational climate, but managers make the weather. This is why it is the manager who is most often cited as the biggest single factor in employee satisfaction and engagement, and the biggest reason people leave their jobs.
A lot of this is due to a poor relationship and a lack of recognition for the effort employees make and the outcomes they achieve. Too few managers spend time building that relationship or taking sufficient interest to understand what their team is doing.
There are good reasons for this.
A lot of managers are expected to do a “day job” on which they are measured, then do some management too, as if it were a minor little add-on extra like being the Fire Warden or agreeing to be on the rota to empty the dishwasher on a weekly basis.
Management is a serious responsibility that takes time, and if you’re unwilling or unable to invest that time, then please don’t be a manager.
The impact you can have if you don’t take it seriously is enormous. Not just on the organisation in terms of the lost opportunities from the mediocre performances of most of the people you manage, but on the individuals themselves in terms of their happiness, wellbeing and career opportunities.
The starting place is always respect.
This isn’t an American TV drama where the boss gets to shout at the interns, this is real life where managers must treat the people they manage with exactly the same level of respect as they treat everyone else.
This isn’t a teacher-pupil relationship, or a parent-child relationship, it’s a professional relationship between adults.
The manager has more responsibility, and gets to make decisions and provide feedback – there is an undeniable power dynamic in play – but managers don’t get their blood replaced with the blue royal sort, nor get given a crown when they are handed the keys to management, and treating their team with anything other than respect is unacceptable.
So I shall put Respect at the heart of the soon-to-be-famous Line Management Cornerstones model:
The four cornerstones of line management
This is just an introduction to these four factors, future posts will expand on each one.
Relationship of Trust
The starting place is building a professional relationship of trust. You may also be friends, or your may not particularly like each other, but none of this matters – the line management relationship is professional. People’s livelihoods depend on it, and without a solid respectful relationship of trust, nothing else will work properly.
If they don’t trust you, your feedback will be misinterpreted as full of ulterior motives or a personal attack, communication channels will be stilted, littered with misunderstandings, and chunks of information will be missing as they are overly cautious when sharing anything with you.
No one can be motivated in this kind of environment.
Delegation and expectations
Clarity of expectations in important, as is offering the right mix of direction and support to ensure they deliver to the right quality standards and remain motivated and confident.
This is about taking an interest in what they do and how they do it (the effort they make), acknowledging delivery, and giving balanced constructive feedback, both positive and developmental (if appropriate).
If you want to keep high-performers happy, you need to spend time investing in their long-term future. This means coaching them, and helping them grow and develop in their role and beyond.
This investment feeds back in to building the relationship and so the whole thing acts as a cycle.
This is not an exhaustive list, nor the only way to slice it up, but it is one useful approach to structuring the main aspects of managing people.