First time manager – taking the stress out of managing people

Becoming a manager or team leader can be a daunting experience. For many they’ve reached their position through promotion and can find themselves in their new role without experience and tools and in particular when it comes to managing people they are often ill equipped to cope with the pressures that comes with looking after teams or individuals.

Part of the problem is that many simply don’t know what to expect and what tasks are required of them. This is especially true of smaller companies which may lack formal training and support for promoted individuals. In this article we’ll take a look at the common themes associated with Management.

There are some common tasks associated with management:

1/ Setting goals and objectives

Goal setting refers to setting objectives that are to be met by either and individual or team (or company)– through carrying out their companies processes. These can be both short term and long term objectives. For example – in a manufacturing environment a line manager may set his team an objective of producing a certain volume of widgets per day – there may be certain longer term efficiency targets that are to be met (for example over a given month) there may also be strategic targets that are met over the course of a year – sales targets for example.

Goal setting can be both formal and informal – formal goal setting might take the guise of an appraisal or assessment where structured objectives are laid out usually over a period of 12 months with periodic reviews. Informal goals may be certain tasks that are delegated out during the course of a given period.

2/ Resource management

Where a line manager has functional responsibility for a team they will need to co-ordinate resources to ensure the right mix of skills and resources are available to carry out the task at hand. Commonly this will be managing vacation requests or staff coverage for sickness. There maybe formal processes to follow within the company and it is incumbent on the line manager to execute them appropriately.

They might also be called upon to support recruitment activity and attend candidate interviews – they may be asked to produce skills profiles and review CV’s as part of the recruitment task.

3/ Discipline

One of the less well liked processes associated with line management is the discipline of staff. This can take a number of forms

a) Informal/Ad hoc – where staff performance is below what is required line managers are expected to communicate this to staff and

b) Formal – companies often have processes and procedures to cater for formal disciplinary issues. Formal problems can take a variety of forms – from prolonged periods of under-performance – bullying in the work place – theft etc.

Staff discipline can be a complex and stressful part of management – it requires delicate but assured action and the first time manager may need appropriate and close support from his peers.

4 Communication

Team leaders and managers act as a conduit for information to be passed around the organization. Commonly this could be in the form of regular team meetings, company briefs or one to one communication. This activity should not be underestimated – it’s a vital tool in ensuring that the workforce are aware of the goals and objectives and that senior management are aware of issues or risks affecting the business.

Managers should consider both the periodicity and mechanism for communicating to their teams and act appropriately. Also remember that communication is a two way street and that you should welcome and encourage feedback from your own team.

5 Management Information and reporting

Another common duty for managers is the reporting of departmental or organizational performance. Typically this will be in the guise of a standard and regular report (often a monthly report) which will be in a standard template throughout the company. This will usually include departmental performance, performance against company goals, issues and activities and business risks. You’ll likely need some data analysis to help report on performance and it’s vital that you understand where the numbers come from and what they mean.

New managers need to seek the appropriate training and support to enable them to carry out their new role to the best of their ability – if your going into management – above all don’t be daunted – management brings responsibility and a fair bit of stress but it can also be exceedingly enjoyable and rewarding at the same time.

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