People that manage people. People that manage teams of people. Getting things done. Delegating. Leaders of the shared timeline. Managers. Characteristically responsible for “acting in ways” that enable individuals to outperform themselves in favor of their contribution to a team effort. Managers who empower teams to achieve their best, to maximize the outputs with minimal inputs. Constantly striving for consistency, value, punctuality. Managers trying to remain relevant in this new world of business, with flattened hierarchies and autonomous employees.
Today, everything changes “ahead of time.” Technology underwent so many transformations in the past few decades, orders of magnitude more than it did before. This has changed everything about work and people. How work can be done, monitored, congregated. The way people act and interact. What they’re interested in, the news they read, the hobbies they have. Everything.
Management is many things. Fundamentally, it’s a process in which a manager uses available resources to achieve certain goals, preferably with efficiency and in style (why not?). Most likely, that’s where the be resourceful imperative originates from. Let’s find out how to be a resourceful manager today.
Managing teams then & now
In the beginning, a manager would simply control people, imposing deadlines and limits and keeping everyone in check. The manager was quite the father-figure, serious, focused, authoritative. This transitioned quite a bit into management roles that were “cooler”, even “goofier.” The “approachable” manager was thus born. There’s something odd about this notion, “the manager.” Maybe it’s fear and anxiety.
Management used to be shaped a lot like military hierarchies and behaviors. Up until recently, that was the main reference system. In fact, some businesses still hire former military to coach, train or manage people. It’s insane how poorly people respond, even though military leaders are some of the greatest leaders in the world. Why is that? This is, perhaps, a complicated question to answer. People are a lot less inclined to respond to authority and a lot more inclined to respond to collegiality. That may well be why.
The fast 50 years have slowly, but certainly offered a steady, albeit imperceptible, transition to the manager as a mother figure. The manager as white matter, dully supporting the collective intelligence of the grey matter, through nutrition, sustenance, stabilization. The new paradigm is one of care.
Rather than fixate on managerial history, let’s make a bold statement.
Management is about people
Today, the tables have turned. It’s all about the people that work for you. Today’s manager needs to be more of a facilitator, to pick away obstacles employees are facing, to make sure they are 100% ready to make the most of their talents and skills so that they succeed in offering their utmost to the team. The manager of today needs to be 100% focused on what makes his team 100% focused. And it’s not fear. It’s knowing and caring for each individual.
Grow your business faster with better team communication!
Nowadays, the manager is not just a team coach, but also a personal coach. Capable of making each individual blossom, which basically means knowing each and every team member from day one. Carefully aware of the entire recruiting process. Meeting everybody in person. Knowing what does it for each and every one of them. What they need, what they fear, what they can be when they’re at their best. The modern manager knows how to nurture, stimulate and engage. How to create a sense of a common objective, of a shared goal. Both interpersonally and publicly, with the entire team.
Synergizing your team
Taking care of a team and taking care of the individual. That’s not all that a manager does. A manager is responsible for deadlines, for meeting and beating deadlines. That’s because all managers typically answer to someone. There are levels and layers. Oddly enough, flattening hierarchies actually contributes to making teams work better. In a way, that’s what a manager does: he develops this sense that the team and the manager are in no way separate, that they are one.
A manager needs to develop a team congruence so great that the team becomes more than the sum of its parts. Actually, this is no longer something to be desired; it’s a prerequisite to having a highly efficient team.
How to synergize other than making it about the team?
Managers that share concerns, interests, objectives, typically have teams that function better, that are more engaged with their work and the results they are expected to deliver.
Share the room
What better way to synergize with your team than working at the same level? Enjoy the same privileges. Eat where they eat. Take coffee breaks with them.
Show them that you care
Here are some things you can ask your team, and you should do so every two weeks.
- “What are you working on right now?” Steve Jobs would use this to great effect. Made employees love working for him. Alternatively, you can ask: “What’s the toughest part of what you’re working on right now?”
- “What would you need right now?” “What is useful to you that we already have?” This one is amazingly powerful. It teaches you a lot about your business, it may save you money by increasing your budgeting awareness and may even give you a better notion of what’s useful (and what isn’t) to how your team works.
Be part of the communal narrative
Listen to stories and create a setting for them. Because you’re not just coworkers doing individual jobs. You’re Argonauts – great people on a great and perilous journey, in which personal achievement is praised and help is offered. Here are some questions that will help you create such a setting:
- “What’s the coolest thing you’ve achieved this month?” Know the person you’re talking to, people love to emit positivity, let them take pride in what they’ve achieved.
- “What can I do to make your job easier? How can I help you?” – This means listen AND take mental notes. Here’s a rare opportunity for you to learn how to do your job.
Also, use opportunities to voice out public praise for personal achievements.
Staying ahead of technology
Keeping up with technology is not enough. It’s best if you stay ahead. You don’t need to boot Linux and type
sudo bringmeacoffee to be on the heights of tech developments. You don’t even need to understand this joke (it’s moderately funny, don’t worry) 😉 Seriously now, not staying ahead of technology means you’re likely going to fall behind and miss opportunities.
You need to understand technology, and how it empowers people. As a manager, you can learn a lot about your team and your business by using the right technology. This is not all there is. For example, metrics or analytics is a tool that offers detailed insight into the behavior of people visiting your website. You can do a lot of things with such information: change your product, pricing, placing, know where to advertise and how, learn more about your clients.
One thing about teams is that you first need to grow them in order to lead them. Therefore, gathering information about your teams is crucial to your understanding of the team dynamics. In fact, this also allows you to understand the flow your team goes through for achieving results.
Using it to know your team better
Most amazingly, technology allows you to know your people. Because not only it enables people to make better, faster use of information, but it also provides a transparency on information flows, people’s actions and reactions, goals and results. For instance, collaboration technology allows you to track work progress and identify obstacles, places in which information gets stuck, reasons for which decisions get delayed, work patterns, and so on.
As a manager, you’re responsible for your team. What’s your role in the team, really? Well, you’re many things: a librarian of expert knowledge, a mechanic of locomotives, a router. You need to keep your head in the game and stay ahead of the game. How? Use tech solutions to communicate better, through chat, voice and video, encourage a familiar communication style that fosters teamwork, cater for efficient collaboration and keep track of team knowledge and resources automatically.
Recommended read: How to Find the Best People for Your Startup