As a leader and manager in your organisation, you constantly have to give attention to many moving parts to make sure they work together to produce the results required.
Often it’s so easy to become immersed in the task that we forget to stand back from time to time to review what’s happening in our area of responsibility. This allows us to deal with issues which, at face value, seem relatively unimportant, but which, if neglected over time, can lead to major problems and difficulties.

Here we provide a series of prompts in five important organisational areas to help you improve your effectiveness and keep your team running smoothly.

Performance

Review the workloads of your team. This is especially important when people work from home in this time of Covid-19. Some team members may be overworked and others may be lightly loaded. Review workloads to distribute the work more evenly.

While you are reviewing workloads, it’s a great time to review workflows. Undertake a workflow analysis to review your current systems and identify and address weak areas. One-on-one meetings with team members provide a great opportunity for managers to re-establish work practices and work productivity, as well as reconnect with the team.

Consider whether a teambuilding session is useful. Teambuilding helps everyone learn how to work better together.

Performance problems are always going to be a concern. If your team is not performing to the expected high standard, a competitor can take your business. Review performance goals and targets. Communicate targets and outline expected results from each of your team members. Then monitor achievement against these targets. You will spot any problems early on and provide constructive feedback – helping to avoid larger issues down the line.

Keeping yourself and your team up-to-date with the latest developments and skills is a constant challenge. Make time to nurture knowledge and inspire growth in your teams.
Encourage formal and informal learning and self-development. E-learning is an effective way to bridge any skills gap and help your teams to constantly evolve.

Covid-19 has been a big challenge for all of us. Employees working from home may feel disconnected. Engage with them to find ways of improving participation in the organisation.

Ensure that your team is equipped with the right tools and resources. This applies to both hardware and software. This will reduce frustration and improve productivity.

The symptoms of burnout are often hidden. Most people are going through some sort of stress, financial or otherwise. Be alert for signs of burnout and give team members space and time to renew.

Culture

It helps to remain in contact with your team. Your interest and support can be highly motivating. When team members feel they are not part of the plan, their level of trust becomes compromised. Clear communication and honest interactions help resolve demotivation because they build trust between an employee and the manager. When you delegate tasks, explain why you assigned them and how they contribute to the overall goal.

Keep communication open with your employees and welcome questions. That way you’ll keep their trust and reduce their frustrations by being accessible to them.

Teams deliver their best when they are refreshed, happy and healthy, and this doesn’t come from working overly long hours or taking on extreme workloads. Set an example for your team by taking regular breaks and using your annual leave to recharge your batteries. When you do this, you let your employees know that you want them to do the same.

Help your team to see the bigger picture. Help them to connect their dreams with what the organisation is going through. It is your job to provide connection, inspiration and motivation. Get your teams excited about the future and what it will take to get there. By constantly communicating your business’ plans and goals, your employees will see that you are excited about the company’s future.

Company culture is a key driver of employee engagement and productivity. You, as the manager and leader, are responsible for the creation of a workplace culture that brings out the best in people and delivers on organisational goals.

Encourage a culture of active interaction and unity in your team. Take time to recognise each member’s contributions and achievements. Find reasons to celebrate.

Creativity and innovation don’t always have to be about big ideas or brand new inventions. It’s also about the small tips we share that make day-to-day life run that little bit smoother.

Staff

Building and retaining an empowered staff complement is an ongoing task. Recruiting an employee who does not fit in is expensive and deviates from the achievement of the organisation’s goals. Get assistance from other managers and human resources professionals when pursuing a new candidate. Apply the old recruiters’ mantra – can they do the job, will they do the job, will they fit in? Good skills are not enough. They must fit into your organisation.

Find and neutralise the negative people in your team. A constant flow of criticisms and complaints don’t help performance. Be firm about the behaviour you expect. If needs be, exit troublemakers from the organisation. It’s your reputation that is at risk.

Work with HR to follow a robust recruitment process. Don’t just choose candidates based on a ‘feeling’. Using selection assessments can help to show how the candidate would react in work situations and give you more insight into what they’re like as an employee. Get a second opinion from a trusted colleague.

When a conflict between team members arises, it’s important that you fully understand the issue before you take any action. A conflict over an area of work can be healthy and can lead to more innovative thinking and solutions – but it’s your job to nurture the conflict in a productive direction.

When your company values are built around trust, respect and positivity, and you hire for these values, personal conflicts based on personality should be minimised. Communicating these expectations during the recruitment process will make the type of behaviour you expect and will tolerate absolutely clear. This means there’s little room for deviation in the workplace.

Today, skills are becoming more and more specialised, so if you have a talented employee, you’ll want to do your utmost to keep them. But if you’re not offering your employees what they’re worth, someone else will. Ensure that your talented staff are supported and have a clear path of progression.

Make sure your employees know how much you care and appreciate them. Paying your employees what they’re worth is always a priority, but you can expand on the offering through regular rewards and recognition or exciting benefits and perks.

Keep track of employee turnover. A rise in turnover means that either the wrong person was recruited, or the person was not happy in the position. Find out the cause of the unhappiness and deal with it.

Your recruitment strategy should support a more diverse and inclusive environment. If you can complement this approach with a systematic onboarding or induction strategy then you’ll build a super team in no time! It’s cheaper to settle a good employee in your organisation than to go out and recruit a replacement.

Communication

Communication is the lifeblood of an organisation. No organisation communicates as well as it would like to.

Increase the frequency of communication to ensure employees know exactly what you expect of them and when you need them to complete it. Redefine standards that reinforce your team’s goals and purposes. Consider implementing a messaging platform for the workplace that allows everyone to communicate quickly.

Good managers have advanced listening and speaking skills as they play a huge role in the success of their team. When a manager isn’t communicating well with the team about business matters or individual progress, it damages the manager-employee relationship and adds to employees’ work-related stress.

Ensure that the content of your communications is clear and simple.

Institute regular catch-ups with employees where they can air their opinions or concerns.

And if you have the resources, consider gamification and virtual reality solutions for improving communication.

Organisation

Organisations evolve at extraordinary speed. There is a constant struggle to keep the structure of the organisation congruent with the reality facing the organisation. Sometimes this can result in team members not knowing just how they fit. Take time to develop an organisational structure that helps employees know what you expect of them.

As the manager, you are responsible for overseeing the members of your team and communicating with other department heads. And then, in addition, you must deliver on your tasks. Prioritise your work responsibilities by scheduling time throughout the day to do your work. Let your team know the times you’ll be available to them and the times you plan to focus on your work. Regularly update your calendar and share it with team members so they know when they can reach you.

Regulations and compliance are a fact of life for a manager. Compliance comes in many different shapes and sizes – regulatory compliance, financial compliance, digital compliance and risk compliance are among the most common. Create systems and reminders to ensure that you remain compliant. Stay on track with legislation. Create a procedure to ensure compliance and consult a specialist to make sure you don’t inadvertently transgress any regulations.

The role of a manager is hard. There are so many matters to attend to. It is easy to get lost in the frenetic day-to-day activities of keeping things together. Reviewing the list above and actioning on areas of opportunity can help you be a better leader and will serve you well in your progression through the organisation.

Don’t forget to come back to this list in six months. Things will have changed by then.

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