This article also available The BIP online here. I interviewed a leading consultant on workplace stress, change management, and employee wellbeing.
Managing a team is no easy task at the best of times but managing a team while also managing change can carry a lot more responsibility.
In an interview, motivational speaker and business consultant Carole Spiers offered advice on managing change, how to spot signs of stress in employees, and the importance of balancing ‘me’ time with making time to connect with the workforce.
A good manager must instil trust, especially during times of change. Carole says that it is important to “appreciate that everyone is different and no two people will deal with change in the same way.”
To give a good impression as a leader, a manager must make time for his team. He must be “firm but fair”, there must be no ambiguity, expectations must be clearly defined and realistic.
Carole would encourage an ‘open door’ policy. “A good leader should ensure that their team know that they are available”.
Another important point which Carole wished to emphasise was to appreciate employees. Value and recognise the work they do. Simply saying ‘thank you’ and offering praise can go a long way to building strong bonds between employer and employee. The inclusion of ‘workplace champions’ and ideas boards are low-cost or no-cost ways, which can be implemented into businesses of any size, to encourage inclusivity and show staff that not only is their day to day work valued, but that they are also valued as individuals with new ideas and diverse personalities. This type of initiative builds on team communication, and gives employees tasks outside of their everyday expectations.
A good leader will delegate, using the right people with the right skills. This might mean that teams are divided to take on separate tasks, or that a short-term buddy system is implemented so that those with a specific skill set, or who have a better handle on a new product, for example, can work alongside those less confident so that the team can work more efficiently.
To be able to delegate appropriately, a good manager must know the strengths of his workforce. This can happen with short, informal team meetings. Making time during lunch, for example, to chat informally with the team can help build rapport and, again, shows that the team is valued.
As well as ensuring what Carole describes as a ‘healthy workplace culture’ for employees, managers must also remember to take time out, even if this means a 10-minute stroll around the office. Asking the type of question like ‘what do you see that I don’t see?’ can help the manager to engage well with their team members.
Furthermore, a good manager should be familiar enough with his employees to know if there are issues with workloads or stresses. Some common signs of stress include exaggeration of usual behaviours, lack of concentration, low energy, absenteeism or presenteeism. It is also important for leaders to recognise these signs in themselves as well.
Team building exercises, Carole says, are worthwhile but need to have a purpose. Just like in the office, there should be a clear and achievable goal, and needs to have follow-through. A fun day out, she says, is great but does not necessarily lead to a more productive workplace in the long term.
However, family and charity involvement come as highly recommended initiatives. Employees will have families, many will have children, and feeling that they have an employer who genuinely cares about that can have a great impact. The same goes for charity work. There is a ‘feel-good factor’ to it, a sense of achievement as well as teamwork outside the office.
In conclusion, familiarity with colleagues, an open door policy balanced with time out, and ensuring that employees know they are valued are key to good management. It is essential to not only be aware of but also to respect individuality. Each individual will react differently to change, will learn new things at different paces, and will have new and unique ideas. When a leader acknowledges these facts, he can begin to delegate to the right people, offer support to those who need it, and build a strong team by using strengths and operating an inclusive management structure.
Carole Spiers is an International Motivational Speaker and business consultant, as well as CEO of Carole Spiers Group. As a C-suite Executive Consultant, she specialises in communications skills and building resilience. www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk