Management is difficult, particularly in times of rapid change. This article provides five quick tips to help managers get the job done, better. Indeed, a manager’s ability to help their organisation navigate commercial risks and opportunities will depend on their ability to manage effectively in the first place.
1. Set the scene
Context is important, as is communicating that environment to your team. Reality is, we operate in a VUCA world – one that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Acknowledging that reality with your team helps set the scene for your role within your team. It also provide an opportunity to emphasise what is important. All managers should be mindful of how the VUCA world impacts their teams, stakeholders and, of the upmost importance, their customers or clients.
2. Communicate effectively
A good manager wins over hearts, heads and hands. That is, they communicate on different levels to take into account people’s emotions and their thinking while appealing to their practical side too. To do this requires active listening to all views and promoting robust discussion. For example, if one person is dominating a team meeting, it may mean that others are less inclined to voice an idea. Managers should not shy away from tough discussions either. In fact, facilitating those difficult decisions – or a willingness to engage an independent person to facilitate those discussions – ensures relevant views are heard and builds trust within your team.
3. Facilitate processes
At the end of the day, your role is to get things done, consistent with the values of your organisation. To do this, managers require processes. Processes are interrelated steps or decisions that have an input and an output. Across a department or organisation, you are likely to have many connected processes. Without processes, confusion and distrust is highly likely. The best managers facilitate processes that allow autonomy, have been tested and are continually reviewed. When reviewing your processes, have the user at the forefront of your mind and consider how the process will be implemented. A good manager will be open to using technology to add value and quality to processes, whilst balancing the need not to over-engineer steps.
4. Have methods for decision making
We all have bias. The ideal manager is aware of their bias. Managers must acknowledge that they don’t have all of the answers and that their views will be impacted by their experiences. Managers should test their and their team’s assumptions by using methods for decision making. Those methods should focus on who has the right skills to contribute, rather than a simple reliance of organisational hierarchy. While consensus decision making is the most widely used method, managers may want to also consider other processes like devil’s advocacy or dialectical inquiry. Ultimately, a sound decision will need to be a made in a timely manner, and a good manager will be able to stand by their decision not just because they think it is right, but by reference to the method (or methods) adopted.
Circumstances change rapidly and requires ongoing review. Effective managers are open to learning new skills and promoting organisational learning. This is not just about signing yourself or individuals up for courses. Neither is this about finger pointing – that will only serve to create fear and cause distrust and dislike for management. Rather, the role of a manager is to seek out opportunities for the organisation to learn and grow. Every setback, flaw, dispute or wrong decision is an opportunity for the organisation to get better. This is a feedback culture, and is most fruitful when a manager leads by example by creating opportunities to receive feedback on their own performance and that of their team. For example, be open to asking a trusted mentor for help or advice. It is okay not to know the answer, and you should be clear with your team when this is so. This personal commitment by a manager compliments consistent de-briefs within and between teams. If managers and teams wait for the next client satisfaction survey or staff performance cycle, the opportunity to meaningfully institute change may have been lost.
MPS Law is committed to assisting organisations – including their managers – get to where they want to go, though commercial advice and dispute resolution services. MPS Law can also assist organisations to improve by conducting organisational and governance reviews. If MPS Law is not best placed to provide assistance, we can provide referrals to reputable professionals who may be better placed to provide assistance.
For more information, contact Michael Pagsanjan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Michael Pagsanjan is the Principal at MPS Law and holds directorships with not-for-profit companies. He has studied leadership at RMIT University and management at Harvard Business School.