Several years ago, I was given the opportunity to lead a sales team. I’d been at the company for five years but had never tried my hand at management, so I thought, ‘why not?’. And, really, what was the worst that could happen?
What followed knocked me sideways.
Managing teams is incredibly difficult, stressful and challenging. Leading a team is something else entirely but comes hand-in-hand with management if you want to be a great boss.
I struggled. I had militant staff and a team who, collectively, just wasn’t pulling its weight.
If you’re leading a team, you may be struggling too, which is possibly how you ended up here.
The good news is, leading a team doesn’t have to be stressful. Here’s how you can remove stress from your role as a manager.
1. Consider yourselves part of a family
This may sound a bit wishy-washy, but it is one of the most important lessons I learned as a manager. In order for a team to be effective and happy, it must be run as a family. Everyone must do their bit.
That means you can challenge your staff, but they can challenge you too. Just like you might with a spouse or child over the dinner table. Work with that mindset, and you’ll all benefit from shared learning and problem resolution.
2. Praise every improvement, no matter how minor
Employees will feel undervalued if their hard work isn’t recognised. Quite often, that hard work may only result in a small improvement to the business, but as a manager, you’re in a unique position to spot such results. When you do, praise the owner of the job – always. A quiet word of encouragement and ‘thanks’ will often mean far more to people than any financial reward.
3. If you’ve screwed up – admit it
We all screw up. Even managers. In fact, I probably screwed up more as a manager than as a regular employee. Hiding mistakes was only making me feel more stressed, so I decided to open up and admit to my staff when I’d made a mistake.
Being humble is an important management lesson. Your staff will warm to you and realise you are, like them, human.
4. Give people the best tools
This one may require a rather tricky conversation or two with those above you, but if your staff are battling through their day with old, broken computer equipment and uncomfortable chairs, you’ll be on the receiving end of their wrath.
Ensure your staff are provided with the best tools to do their job. Their productivity and happiness will increase and, as a result, the business will generate more revenue. That’s how to sell it to the finance director!
5. Make that decision
No one likes a manager who can’t make a decision. Be confident in your ability to do just that and prove to your team that you have a plan for them.
You’ll make poor decisions (see tip 3), but you’ll also make some brilliant decisions, and the mere fact you’re making a decision at all will enable you to retain your authority while gaining more respect from your team.
The above tips became sacred while I managed that sales team. They improved my job satisfaction, created a pleasant, creative working environment and ensured I had a happy, productive team to deal with, as opposed to a bunch of militant colleagues. I hope they work for you, too.