Being a manager is largely a balancing act, constantly weighing the wants, needs, and priorities of different people against each other.
One of the most difficult aspects of management, then, is keeping everyone around you satisfied – both the executives above you making demands and the employees on the ground floor carrying them out.
Your superiors care about results, returns, and productivity. They need to know that jobs are being done and goals are being met. They likely don’t even know your team members outside of the tasks they complete and details in performance reviews they’re emailed but may not read.
While they may not be very focused on culture and people, you need to be.
The only way to deliver those results the C-suite wants is to lead your people to produce them. People who, understandably, want to feel happy, engaged, and respected at work.
So while your own bosses may be demanding results and performance yesterday, mid-level managers can’t really make these demands yourself with the same fervor.
Instead, to keep your team running smoothly and meeting its goals, you often need to look past work performance and conventional rules in the short term to focus on cultivating a culture where your team can succeed in the long term.
The following are a few of those situations that can’t be overlooked when building a management plan for your department.
1. Running Team Huddles
With technology introducing so many new ways to communicate, calls and meetings have rightfully faced scrutiny over the past few years. It’s wonderful that the workforce is wising up to how inefficiently most meetings are run, but reducing them too drastically can have unintended ripple effects throughout your team’s culture.
For example, common meeting rules would suggest team-wide or company-wide meetings should be kept to a minimum, along with appointments that lack focused agendas. But holding regular huddles, standups, or check-ins has become an essential tool for fostering team unity and collaboration.
Especially in a workforce that’s increasingly flexible and remote, it’s one of your few chances to get your whole team together, focused on the same conversation and topic at the same time.
It’s also a chance for employees who don’t collaborate to get to know each other and learn more about each other’s work and current projects. It’s when a designer, for example, has the opportunity to hear about what gets done with the graphics she creates, allowing her to see the bigger strategy and mission or purpose develop in real time, and better understand the impact her work has on the business. It cultivates a sense of emotional investment.
And these meetings don’t need to be inefficient.
Even with a distributed team, better virtual meeting tools make it simple to organize and run huddle meetings so that they’re short, organized, and helpful. For example, using ClickMeeting, you can use a shared agenda and recurring calendar invite to keep your huddles running on time – and make recordings accessible for team members on other schedules who need more asynchronous communication.
2. Collecting Ideas and Feedback
There’s a lot to be said about good versus bad feedback in the workplace. Obviously not every idea your team has will be a game changer for your business, or even a plausible idea. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard.
In order for your team to share their best ideas and most helpful feedback with you, they need to feel comfortable sharing their worst. This means that as a manager, you must foster an environment where employees feel safe and motivated to share their thoughts with you.
But if you’re going to create open channels of communication, where employees and internal stakeholders can easily share anything from ideas around company processes and workflows to product and marketing changes, you’re going to have a lot of information thrown at you – especially if you’re managing a larger team at multiple locations.
That’s only a time suck if you have no process to manage it all. Otherwise, it’s an idea bank and looking glass into your team’s thoughts and attention.
Instead of letting the daunting prospect of sifting through random feedback and comments hold you back from innovative insights from your smartest employees, develop an organized process or leverage an idea management tool like Qmarkets. A system like this can act as a sort of filter so that employees are inspired to explore and share new ideas without you needing to deal with the information overload that crowdsourcing ideas can sometimes cause.
3. Granting Flexible Work
Finally, traditional executive thinking tends to correlate hours in the office with tasks completed and results achieved. But you know that your team members are not work machines programmed to produce results without distraction, they need the right environment and circumstances to do their jobs.
Great managers recognize when letting a team member leave early when they don’t feel well will lead to higher performance once they return. Or that their most introverted employee may need to move from the open office area to a conference room for certain types of work.
With businesses adapting more digital tools like Asana for project management and Slack for communication, it doesn’t make as much sense as it did in the past to require your whole team in the same environment working the same way. Remaining flexible allows each employee to do their best work and tells them you respect their boundaries and strengths, which will pay off.
Not Only About the Output
Frequent meetings, listening to all ideas, and staying flexible might sound like counterintuitive management techniques that would lead to a less productive team. But when you implement the right systems around each, you can benefit from them without taking all of the assumed downsides and extra work.