Your Team Is A Reflection Of You
There is a WhatsApp forward doing rounds in many groups; an adult and a child, both doing some sort of an identical action. And a famous line by Robert Fulghum (a renowned author) is printed across the image: “don’t worry that your children are not listening to you; worry that they are watching you”. You may recollect at least one such image, be it about littering, shouting, abuse, following rules, etc. Here is the one I really like, subtle and makes the point.
It is a powerful message because deep down we all know it’s true. Children are keen observers and it is perhaps the most effective way in which they learn or adopt new things. It compels us to pause for a moment and reflect on ourselves. It makes us want to be a better example to children (our own or others children) and for other people around us.
And the fact of the matter is, this holds true even in our workplace.
The psychology of an employee
People in an organisation behave in a way their immediate managers behave. Not because they are taught to do so, but because learning by observation is the most basic and subconscious way of learning. They learn a lot about ‘how to work’ and ‘what is expected’ during their initial training. But a large part of their learning is based on what they ‘see’ than what they ‘hear’. Perhaps that is why ‘culture management’ and ‘experiential learning’ are becoming priorities for organisation leaders.
When a trainee, intern or new employee joins in your company, he/she is always under someone’s guidance for ‘training’. Hence for a short span of time, this person/manager is an authority figure for them. Based on these initial interactions, the new employee forms their own perception of what is acceptable and what is not. Manager’s role, therefore, becomes a crucial one when it comes to training an employee.
Certainly, this influence is welcome in the context of work. If the manager knows the job really well, is a top performer; it is likely that his/her subordinates will be too. But it would be an alarming situation if the manager lacks soft skills; especially – people management skills.
What if people management skills are missed?
If people management skills are missed, it could lead to an immediate rise in your attrition rate. It could also result in lower job satisfaction among employees. There could be cases where employees who despite all the rules and penalties don’t follow the norms because their managers flout it too.
All of this could lead to a lot of confusion and mismanagement of the employees. Over a period of time, this could lead to a potential drop in the overall performance and productivity. At some point, these new joinees would grow and move to managerial positions based on merit but their lack of training might impact the new teams under them.
Thus, the manager’s role can’t be limited to merely technical training, SOP orientation, product information or sales training. Why? Because you would not want every employee to be an ace at output but poor at managing teams.
Each employee of the organisation and most certainly the leadership team are custodians of the company’s culture. Together they play a key role in developing soft skills, especially people management skills in the team.
Here are 5 things every manager must do to become a positive influence on their teams:
1. Timing is everything
To drive the point of punctuality and timing in your employees, it is imperative that you be punctual first. If your employees find out that you are particular about your own timings, they would be extra careful of not being late around you. This not just applies to the office entering or leaving but also other aspects like meetings and submissions. Always keep your time commitments when you call someone for a meeting. This would also add weight to the things you convey in the meeting and drive the seriousness of the subject in a subtle way. Sanctity of deadlines also needs to be maintained from your end. If you commit your employees of assigning them a particular task or ask them to submit them a report on a given time, be sure to do that at the time mentioned. This would not only drive the point of punctuality; it also conveys the point of honouring commitments.
2. Inspire learning
Learning something new might not always be served on a platter. There are a lot of things you need to learn on your own. You can do so by reading books, literature and updates on the industry you are in. This would not just increase your knowledge but also help you understand trends over a period of time. Your reading and knowledge could then be shared with your team. This way you could exchange your learnings and collectively learn more. This transparency would also keep your team updated on the various opportunities that you foresee, your possible ways to approach them and also your plans to tackle it. With a better understanding of these elements, your team would be in a more cooperative position to work towards it. Your act of taking ownership and reading beyond what was prescribed could be an inspiration to your team. It could also encourage them to go beyond their comfort zone and take ownership of the tasks assigned to them.
3. Feedback – A golden opportunity to improve
A major area of concern for employees how they deal with feedback. Either they don’t ask for feedback or don’t take the feedback given in a positive way. Here’s an easy way to bring about a balance. Every time you have a session or a meeting, be it formal or informal, ask for feedback and opinions from the employees. Be open to their views and listen to what they say. The way you react to the feedback would become a benchmark for them when you or other team memebers give them feedback. Also, your act of asking feedback would encourage the employees to ask for your feedback on a regular basis. Thus positive and constructive feedback could become a part of a healthy work environment where everyone is heard and cared for.
4. Be open to change
There are times in the life of the business where it goes under a significant amount of change. This could be a change in the venue, change in timings, change in leave structure, payment structure, HR guidelines, equipment and systems used, and change in processes, etc. Adapting to any new change is not an easy task. And therefore, your team would be watching you closely on how you react to such changes. Your response to the change often influences most of the responses in the team. You should, therefore, be welcoming and optimistic about any new changes that come your way. The same needs to be communicated effectively to your managers as well. If they are convinced and optimistic about the change, implementing it on their team becomes much easier and seamless task.
5. Effective people management
People management skills might not generate direct revenue, but they are the driving force for almost all revenue-generating skills. Just like you have regular workshops, seminars and training for your technical skills, you also need to regularly update and brush up on your people management skills. People skills ensure that you are well-equipped to handle most situations in the most optimum way. This would equip you with newer ways of managing people and better resolve conflicts whenever they arise. When your team members observe you and your ways to motivate the teams, encourage them to level up, increase their productivity and resolve any and every challenge that prevent the team members to perform well; they are far more likely to do the same themselves.
This is important for the team members because it would improve their interpersonal skills, help them in dealing with their co-workers, managers and CEOs in a much more professional and positive way. In the long run, it would also help them when they themselves step up in managerial positions and have to manage people under them.
It is, therefore, true that an employee is usually a reflection of their immediate manager. A simple formula for success rests in investing time and money to focus on the development of your managers and those in supervising positions. They are an important asset that not just lead but also influence a large majority of your other employees. Hence, it becomes critical that you invest in adequate training of these individuals – especially in people management skills.
Yellow Spark can assist in training your managers and the entire team in effective people management. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a detailed module on how you can improve people management skills of your employees.
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.