How to manage your workers for success

and have great relationships too

Elements of people management

If you lead or manage others, you know that it’s super hard to get this people management game all right, all of the time.

And, if you’re already working flat out, to develop and run your own business, the challenge can be simply overwhelming.

So, in this Insight, we look at how to take some pain out of the people management side of your work… and help your people achieve more of the brilliant work you need from them.

If you’re a parent – you can adapt these ideas to help at home too. 

I’ve raised three children, so I know the challenges on that front 😉

Okay, so what’s the best way to manage your workers?

Well, the short answers are the same as they are for most complex questions

No golden rules, Shaw

Clear, Simple and Wrong. Mencken

The truth is that it all depends on the context!

OK, I know that sounds like a cop-out but it’s true.

Very few of life’s big questions have simple ‘black or white’ answers. Indeed our happiness comes largely from embracing the shades of grey in life – as we saw here

What’s more, this idea is supported by the situational leadership model – which you can find in the acclaimed business management book ‘The one minute manager builds high performing teams’

This short but hugely valuable book, by Kenneth Blanchard, Donald Carew and Eunice Parisi-Carew, summarises the people management challenge perfectly. And is well worth a read.

You can find it listed, with some of my other favourite books here

So, the key Insight is that good leadership is not one-dimensional, it’s ‘situational’, which means that we need to adapt our style to the competence of those being led.

Blanchard’s four suggested styles of leadership for different situations are as follows:

Stage 1 – the ‘directing’ (telling) style

This is clearly appropriate for a new and inexperienced starter into a business.

The ‘newbie’ is likely to be keen – and thus self-motivating – but may lack competence and will need clear direction.

Ideally, you’ll provide direction, initially, in the form of a solid induction training programme. And most good, medium or large organisations will have the resources to offer this.

If you’re a smaller company or one-person start-up without an induction programme, you may need to be more creative. And you might just ‘make do’ with a walk through some headings which outline the role of the new recruit.

You could also ask your new recruit to document the key processes that they’ll be working on – whilst you show them how to do the work. This is a great way to ’embed’ the learning and might throw up some improvement opportunities along the way.

You might also ask your new recruit to develop and document those process improvements. And then, as your business grows, they’ll be able to help train the next recruit.

But we’re jumping ahead here . . .

Stage 2 – the ‘coaching’ style

At this stage, your ‘newbie’ has acquired some skills and has a better sense of the scale of their work.

They may start to question their ability to do it all and some loss of self-confidence is a risk at this stage.

So, they’ll need more support from their leader along with some continuing direction.

Stage 3 – the supporting style

This stage is reached when the recruit has attained high levels of skill and needs little or no direction on that front.

However, as they may still be regaining their confidence at this stage, the key role of the Manager is to provide support.

Stage 4  – The delegating style

In the final stage of development, the recruit is fully competent and experienced and the leader can pull back to a more ‘hands-off’ or delegating style of leadership.

The accomplished worker is now largely self-supporting on both technical and confidence fronts.

That said, a good leader will always make it clear that they’re there to help as needed… and may remain actively engaged in the quality control of certain outputs.

Abdication is not delegation – but not every Manager understands that 😉

The bottom line

Blanchard’s ideas can help us in both work and home life.

They can remind us to take more care in managing ourselves.

And a great many ‘strivers’ and small business owners (myself included) need that reminder from time to time…

Hope that’s of interest

Thanks for dropping in,


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