There is no doubt that when it comes to staff retention and performance within an organisation, effective leadership is the most important aspect involved. Hiring managers who bring profit growth to the business and work with their teams to develop them is an absolute must. People are more likely to be loyal and stay in a company when they receive constructive feedback from which they can improve, become better at their jobs and feel appreciated for their hard work. Dealing with different types of personalities, whilst ensuring that they are all receiving the best possible management can be challenging. We spoke to the head of marketing at Rakuten Marketing UK, Abi Jacks who talked us through some key steps to take in consideration when working in a senior management position.
What are 5 important factors to consider when managing people within a company?
The first would be to acknowledge that everyone has their own communication style, what works for you might not work for them. I was lucky enough to learn about different communication styles in my first management assignment and it set me in good stead. I can now tell which style is best going to suit who I work with and though sometimes it’s not how I would prefer to work, it certainly makes things easier when you can acknowledge their differences and how best you can work together.
Second is the power of perception, you could be having the same conversation but you’re hearing it one way and they’re hearing it another. Perception is important whether you’re the manager or the team member. There have been countless times when a frustrated team member has voiced their thoughts on a topic that I had though was the total opposite. It’s particularly useful to think about perception when you are disagreeing with someone or they are arguing repeatedly a point that just doesn’t make sense to you. Their version of the truth could be impacted by other influences, how they woke up that morning, whether they have underlying issues with another part of the business or role or something totally unrelated. You can’t control their perception or force them to see your point of view so try to peel away the layers and put yourself in their shoes. It’s also helpful to get a good insight into what is important to them as this will shape both communication style and perceptions.
Third is considering what influence you have over them. Every person you manage is your responsibility to develop and nurture. Influence I think is often under-rated by managers, you think about the day to day of management and getting what you need from them but don’t look at what you should be giving them. Even more so with junior staff, your team are looking to you for leadership and to learn something new from you. I take this element of being a manager seriously and always look at what I can do for their career development. It builds a strong relationship and benefits the team as a whole. You’ll also find your retention is better and you can ride out any storms that are outside your control, like business change, easier.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Fourth is leading by example, I can never stress enough the importance of this. You must practice what you preach and your team needs to see this.
Finally be fair but firm, you need your team to respect you and you should start as you mean to go on, yes you’re friendly but when you need to be – they know you mean business.
My final two points blend really, you need to build respect within your team and you do that by eating your own dog food and treading the line between being fair and firm. Show that you’re happy to get stuck in and help when it’s needed, treat people respectfully, maintain a positive front in front of your team and stick up for them. I’m a very open and honest manager and try to encourage feedback whenever I can get it.
In your opinion, what are the most important qualities in a manager?
Leading by example, practice empathy, set expectations
How do you deal with difficult staff?
My usual tack is to kill them with kindness, find some common ground and set firm expectations. Give them the support they need to do their job but don’t let them take over your time. Try to understand where the difficulty is coming from and show them you’re not their enemy.
What would you say is the best part about managing people?
I find it very rewarding when you can see them develop in their roles and improve their processes. I also like forming close teams who support each other and work together. People are the best part of a business so to make someone feel good about what they’re doing and put their all into it is a great thing to influence.
What are some challenging aspects that come with it?
There are times when there’s only so much you can do for someone, the business may have other ideas or the culture just isn’t right for them. It’s a tough conversation when someone you manage is really frustrated by something out of your influence and they look to you for help when you can’t provide it.
What advice do you have for people who are pursuing a career in management?
Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, often it’s seen as the next step in a career but some people are just not cut out to be strong people managers and that’s a real shame for the teams they manage. I would also look to find another manager that you respect and think does a good job, mentors are great at answering questions and helping you find your own style. And remember that we’re all learning all the time, nobody has perfected management and there will be times you mess up and that’s ok.
Connect with Abi on LinkedIn