When you are managing a team, “how to be a good manager” is the “must” question to ask because it will push your team towarda high positive motivation that will lead to a better team productivity for a better team results. A good manager is:
- First, an human toward another human
- Second, to put yourself as the same level as the team
- Third, not to be arrogant as manager because the team already knows your position and no one wants to work with an asshole manager.
Taking a coffee with them, sharing a good laugh, or playing football, all those things are secondary. The most important is to listen then to act accordingly. I divided this topic in 2 parts since I have many things to say. I am using 10 steps to reach my goal so let’s talk about them.
1. Sitting position
Where to sit is a strategy of mind. Based on if you are going to sit in an office or in the same area as your team, it will affect the psychology of the members and their perception to you. In a big company, usually, IT support managers are sitting in the same working area with his team. In a small and medium company, it may be not the case and the culture is mostly the old fashion, every manager should have a personal office. In such situation, if the space allows it, sit with your team and forget about the office. The best is to sit near to your team leader and where you have a good view of the full team. Benefits:
- The team will feel a new positive change, a manager closer to them
- A better control of the team (who is late, who is doing extra hours, etc.)
- Anticipating any conflicts between members and with customer
The first weeks, the team may be sceptic because they may think that you are here to control them. To prove the contrary, don’t take care but take care in the same time. For instance:
- If someone comes late, don’t say “hey, you are late”, just let it be. Now of course, if the same guy comes late every day, you have to speak to him/her.
- If someone is doing extra hours, tell her/him that the time is off and time to enjoy life but if the person prefers to stay, don’t push him to go home.
2. Management meeting
When I start in a new company, there are 2 meetings that I schedule in the first weeks. First, a meeting with HR and the director to know the life of the team getting answers from the questions like which kind of issues and how many, who is more conflictual, who is more trusted, etc. and what the customer thinks about us. Secondly, a meeting with the customer to know his thoughts about the company (the customer can have a bad perception of the company but a good perception of the team) and the team like what he is expecting, who he doesn’t like and why, etc. Every drop of information arecrucial because it gives me a first glance of what kind of team I will manage.
3. Face-to-face event
The next step is to schedule a face-to-face meeting with each member of my team that includes the team leader, don’t wait for them to come to you, you have to go first. It will show them that something will change. Starting in a new company, it involves a lot of things to do and most of managers skip it or they plan this activity for the next coming months but it is a bad team management strategy.
Why ? First, you will have so much more things to do that you will have less time in the coming months. Second, psychology speaking, the team will perceive that you are privileging them before anything else so a positive feeling. Third, you will know their strong and poor points so a betterunderstanding to reach the goal.
The most difficult is not to find a free slot in my daily schedule but to find a slot without impacting negatively the service. Once I know when, I just prepare an email that includes:
- An introduction of myself
- The intentionof this meeting including how it will work and asking them to prepare on their side
- The goalof this meeting including how to
The next step is to send an outlook appointment, a 30 face-to-face minutes is enough per person to start. If I need more time, I schedule another one once this event will be completed, never before.
During the meeting:
- I ask the person how he/she feels, positive and negative about the team, the service and the company. I dig out the most information possible
- I never promise thing that I know that I will not be able to reach, I always say “sorry, it is not possible”
- In the other hand, if there is a slight chance, I will say “I will try but not promising”
- If a request needs to be studied, I will say “let me study and I will let you know”
- If the request is easy, I will give them the solution
- When a feedback can be provided
The result of this meeting:
- The strength and the poor of each member
- The temperature of the team (conflict, sub-group, etc.)
- A first glance about who can be promoted probably
- A first glance about the new strategy to improve the service
The most important of this activity are:
- To take note (you are not in a coffee chat !!!),
- Be honest and direct with them.
After the meeting, people who asked answers are expecting a feedback from you. This part is important because it will demonstrate how serious you are and that the face-to-face event is not a joke. Absolutely, don’t wait for the next face-to-face event if you plan to do once a year for instance. This activity should be done in a regular period, it is up to you to fix the period but be clear to the team. It will avoid that every week, the person will ask “do you have news for me”.
For the first quarter, a monthly face-to-face meeting. If I have the answer before, I tell him/her. In the contrary or if I have the answer near to the feedback day, I will wait for this day. If I have no news, I just say “I am still waiting” and if I know the reason for the delay, I will provide it.
On the 4th month, most requests have been resolved and very few old requests will remain and new one will appear so the regular time can be extended once every 2 months.
At the beginning of the third quarter, if some old requests still remain, fix a specific date. At this time, you should have a better control of the flux of information and you should know how easy you would get it. The specific date should be between 2 or 3 months, although, 3 months for me it is already late but psychology; it is the maximum that can be tolerated. Take in account that it will almost 1 year since the first face-to-face meeting so it is quite long.
This activity is to increase your relationship with your members and specifically, the trust, for that, transparency is the key. All information can be shared but not all information is good to share, it will depend to who and your trust level.
5. Team meeting
The team meeting is very different to the face-to-face meeting. The team meeting is:
- First, to remind all members that we are a team
- Second, to share to all members the same information
- Third, to find a common solution to a problem (if exists) as a team
Every employee works alone, in front of the screen, and usually, the guy will speak to his colleagues next to him so if you manage a team of 3 members only, there is a very good communication but if you have 20 members !!! Transferring the information from mouth to mouth always lost pieces of it and the information is different after going through 3 or 4 mouths.
This activity is quite important because you will create an unity, a meeting on which the team (not an agent) can express and share together their opinions. As manager, you can share with them the results or other things that you think appropriate for them to know. Also questions like “how to improve” so everyone can participate, share their thoughts and why not, in the same meeting, find the solution to a problem.
The period can be once per month, every 2 months, once a quarter, etc. Up to you to decide the period but do it at least once a year, the good option is once a quarter. You can always schedule a last minute team meeting for urgent/important information to communicate.
In some of my experiences, it was not possible to do it in a room. For instance, due to the policy of the company, there was no way to let the service without any agents. In this case, I did it directly in the working area, of course, calls will come but I did it in the time frame with less activity and I asked only 1 or 2 to be connected.
If a team meeting is not possible, I do it via an email. The problem with the email, it is lacking the interactivity with your team but it is an important thing to do. Too many time, I got feedback from my team that they don’t know what happen in their service, their department and in the company.
New customers, new positions, customer visits, etc. are important information to give them and to involve them deeper in the culture of the company. Prepare the meeting, don’t go like that, you should know what to talk and how much time you want to dedicate.
For the second part, read Part 2: A good manager, better team motivation, better team productivity, better team results