Managing Your Team – and You

Managing Your Team – and You

Are your team well? Is your team’s performance good, improving, where you want it to be?

We seem to be in the age of “productivity”. Are we all as efficient and productive and we can be? Productivity and performance have everything to do with management. If you are a team member, how you are managed will affect you, the team and the organisation. If you are a manager – how you manage will affect each member of the team, the team as a whole and the organisation. It will also affect you.

Management training usually includes how to manage budgets, how to manage time, how to manage priorities and how to manage people – but not usually how to manage health.

How we are affects everything we do

Morale and motivation are part of health.
Cognitive function, innovation, creativity, engagement – are all part of health.

Cohesive, engaged teams achieve high goals and in return enjoy a high sense of reward, achievement and satisfaction. Teams respond to working with popular, effective managers and managers benefit from happy, motivated, engaged teams. Once we can set this cycle in motion – it feeds itself. Happy hormones are probably one of the most powerful ingredients to good short, medium and long term success and productivity. Much as people try – you can’t really buy happy hormones – but they can be generated extremely cost effectively.

Skilled management will always include skilled communication. Managers need to communicate well with seniors and peers to understand and be part of that leadership team and to be included in the direction of the business and operational plans. They then need to have the relationship and rapport with their own teams to put the plans into action. The more inclusive a manager can be with their team, the more likely they are to have the teams’ commitment. Creativity, success and inspired solutions thrive in well managed teams, cultures and environments. Poor management can stifle enthusiasm and engagement.

Building those conditions of engagement, commitment, creativity, achievement and productivity is the major demand of good management. A great deal of this is established by care. Team members who know somebody cares, will invariably perform well.

A famous experiment, or series of experiments in the late 1920s/early 1930s, is still cited in management, education and business training today. It has not become dated or been superseded – The Hawthorne Experiment

In these experiments changes were made to people’s working conditions, to start with increasing the lighting and then decreasing the lighting and after each phase of the experiments, productivity was measured. Productivity kept on going up. After several experiments, making various changes, the experiments concluded that it wasn’t the changes to the physical conditions that were affecting the teams’ productivity but the fact that interest was being taken in them and their workplace. The experiments were the idea of Elton Mayo, an Australian born sociologist. He wrote: “The desire to stand well with one’s fellows, the so-called human instinct of association, easily outweighs the merely individual interest and the logic of reasoning upon which so many spurious principles of management are based.” One of his research team referred to: “the effect of making each individual feel an integral part of the group.”

Taking an interest in people, appropriately, is a highly effective, successful management strategy. This includes knowing how to ask questions, which questions to ask and when. Written here that may seem the simplest of things – but getting it right in practice isn’t always that simple. It should be. Communication Skills and Emotional Intelligence pay significant dividends. I suppose these things are slightly more complicated by people being so different. Fortunately we didn’t all come off a standard production line – so we have our differences. This is exactly where communication skills and EQ come into their own. Identifying the different personalities and characters, abilities and strengths is key to establishing the structure of a good, functional team. Managers need to know about hangups and anxieties – they need to know about things that affect performance and motivation. They need to be able to create behaviour change and enable behaviour change, they need to appreciate the psychology of behaviour change. They need to be good at negotiation. They need to recognise good performance. They need to elicit feedback. These all depend on good cognitive function and high-performing teams depend on good cognitive function too. Our thoughts and our moods and behaviours are all hormones, they are all bio-chemistry.

Our lifestyles dictate a lot about how we are and who we are. If we look after ourselves we are optimising our chances of being well ourselves – and also being good, effective, popular managers. Do you know your team? How are they? Have you asked them? Sharing plans so that people know what is required of them and what they can do lays a sound basis for building rapport. Seeking ideas from teams is an excellent way to build engagement and encourage participation. These techniques also minimise or even eliminate under performance, stress and illness. Providing the right conditions for people to communicate and participate solves many modern psychological problems that businesses and families suffer from, especially stress, anxiety or depression – before they can take hold. It makes life easier for the manager as well as the managed. Having conversations about health is not the easiest thing for most people, in any circumstances – but we spend a lot of time in the workplace. Costs of absence management can rise very quickly. A recent report by PwC following many case studies concluded that we need an approach calling for employers and managers to be proactive rather than reactive in managing health and emphasizing the benefits of preventative measures. Training, workshops and consultative groups can significantly avoid injury and illness. Designing projects and programmes around performance and inviting participation takes the focus away from personal health which may be intrusive or embarrassing. Health needs to be introduced onto the agenda though. It needs to be “normal”. Do you know your team? How are they?

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