Learning from your best and worst managers!
"Management is doing things right, Leadership is doing the right things." – Peter Drucker
I have spent over 32 years in the recruitment industry, 27 of those years running my business, Monarch Personnel. Much of my management style is built upon the foundational learnings from my managers during my early recruitment career. All my managers were challenging bosses, and I undoubtedly was a challenging employee! Here are some of the best and worst management examples that I experienced. I learned from them, and I hope you can too:
The Best Manager 1: Training your staff is crucial to the success of your organisation.
Henry Ford once said, "The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay."
One of my best managers invested heavily in my training. Good quality training enhanced my skills and ability to perform my role well for the company. The success that I had by utilising the training helped me grow in confidence and increase my job satisfaction and motivation. I also realised how necessary good quality training is to a team, and I am a great promoter of training staff and investing in their futures. Training should be continuous as our business strategies are moving forward. Remember, we would never expect a tradesperson to do their job without the right tools!
The Best Manager 2: It is normal to make mistakes.
I genuinely believe that it is crucial to "Forget the mistake. Remember the lesson."
I was determined to be successful in my chosen career. I wanted to be amongst the best in my chosen industry. The best manager I had never held me back. I was encouraged to try new things; there was always time to discuss my ideas. I now realise that the best manager I had knew that some of my ideas would fail, but he always encouraged me to "give it a go." While "giving it a go," I certainly made mistakes. I soon learned that it is how you handle those mistakes that is important.
Firstly, it is essential to own your mistake. Please don't beat yourself up about it, but you must acknowledge and advise of your error as soon as possible. How quickly you draw attention to your mistake can impact on how severe the repercussions will be. Admitting your mistake is vital to getting your colleagues to trust you too. I made many honest mistakes and was never afraid to own up to them. I learned to describe the issue, how it had come about, and always tried to plan some next steps to move forward. My manager was always there for support and to assist me. After matters were resolved and things were running on an even keel again, there was always a discussion about my learnings. Remember, the mistake is not fixed until you have thought about it and have put everything possible into place to prevent it from happening again.
A great manager is like a good teacher. You never forget them or what they did to help you along the way. My best manager retired many years ago, but his teachings have been a significant influence throughout my career.
The Worst Manager 1: Your job is to make me look good!
I've had two managers who appeared to believe that their key objective at work was to ensure that their boss (and ideally the manager above them) thought they were doing a good job. As junior colleagues, this meant that we were encouraged to take every opportunity to make them look good to their bosses. My manager (who was outwardly a likeable person) was regularly late for work, extended her lunch periodically, and finished work early, even more frequently. We were actively advised to tell her boss, when he called, that she was out visiting clients when she had announced that she was going to organise her weekly food shopping.
Faced with this situation, the team severely lacked leadership. Some colleagues were diligent and did their job to the best of their ability and others took advantage of the problem and did the least possible amount of work. It resulted in some good staff leaving, their replacements were not trained adequately, and the more experienced team members began to feel overworked and undervalued by the manager in question.
What did I learn from this? I first learned that every problematic situation offers a learning opportunity. I realised that a reduced team with the correct mindset to succeed could achieve far more than a larger group with poor direction and leadership. Moreover, despite liking my manager as an individual outside of work, I learned how important leadership is to new employees. I also learned how important it is for employees to feel valued and appreciated.
The Worst Manager 2: Remember your team members love their homes and their families too!
Strangely enough, it was one of my best managers who taught me what I believe to be one of the biggest management mistakes. Christmas Eve fell on Friday when I learned this lesson. The team had spent that morning and the previous day calling clients to sort out any temporary requirements for the week between Christmas and New Year and to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. The team returned from their lunch hours very much in a festive mood.
My manager called to say that she would be visiting the office at four o'clock. When she arrived, she expressed her concern that the team did not appear to be doing much sales work. I explained that most of our client companies had closed at lunchtime and that candidates were not answering their phones. We were using the opportunity to sort out our filing, along with other routine tasks.
By 5 o'clock, the team was fed up! Our standard finish time was at half-past five. I spoke to my manager and asked could the team finish early, but she said that she wanted to have a celebration drink with the team. At twenty minutes to six, as the team was putting on their coats, my manager proceeded to open a bottle of bubbly. She seemed somewhat upset when half of the group said they needed to leave as they wanted to get home to their families. Overall, the team was disgruntled, and my manager was upset.
What did I learn from this? I first learned that it is essential to understand and respect that our teams have lives outside of work. I also learned that if you give a little you will get much more in return. At Monarch Personnel, the team agreement (if Christmas Eve falls on a workday) is that we will aim to finish at lunchtime, but we work as a team to ensure that all essential tasks are completed before anyone leaves the office. By being open with your team and setting clear guidelines, we work towards common goals. As managers, we must realise that expecting and delivering excellent customer service is key to a profitable business, but so is achieving a happy and motivated team.
- Pam Steed, Managing Director
Knowing the mindset of your team can help you to achieve the best management style to get the best from every individual. Why not contact us to see if we can help you to understand your own mindset and to help manage your team.