When we were engineers, we were rewarded for our technical skills and the labour we put in direct proportion to what we could accomplish. Then when you grow to a manager, the success is measured not by the individual output hut by the overall output and productivity of the people we supervise. This is when that sense of not being in direct control can be a frustrating, particularly if things do not notch upto the expectations.
At the same time, working with others and extracting them to give you their best can be just as rewarding as technical accomplishments . . .
The most valuable qualities you can develop within yourself on your own are patience on one hand and consideration for other people on the other. Machines don’t care whether you scream or curse at them, people do. Your subordinates are not just engineers, supervisors, technicians and clerks they’re human beings, first. They too are people with families and friends, likes and dislikes, complexes as well as feelings. If not respecting them as people at least one has to consider them as people who deserve a decent treatment and you will sure get their respect and loyalty in return. Give your people the same kindness and consideration that you would expect to receive if you were in their place.
As a manager, it’s part of your job to keep your people on the right track. And that involves pointing out errors and telling them where they’ve gone wrong. A Manager should also have a capacity or foresight to understand the caliper of his men and what they are likely to do when given a task. Instead of waiting for him / her to commit a mistake and then criticize them, the manager can well guide in advance so that (i) he or she does not commit the mistake at all thereby saving lot of time and (ii) you could enhance his morale and confidence. Do you like being criticized every time by your seniors or do you like to be guided? Exactly that is what those below you too will be expecting of you. The company makes you the boss because you have more knowledge and experience in your field than a good chunk of people you supervise. Having accepted that position you have a responsibility to guide and teach these people rather than shouting or criticizing at every instance.
To be a successful manager you should know that the best way for his people to learn and grow is through experience and that means taking chances and, may be, making some errors. When we are tempted to shout or raise the finger on others, take a second to rewind the cassette “did I commit similar mistakes and somebody allowed me get away and that made me so confident today?” the answer you get should be the deciding factor how you treat others when they commit a mistake or fail in their task. To test each individual, we can always give a chance to try new task without a supervisor looking over his or her shoulders but only on smaller, less crucial ones. That way, mistakes won’t hurt the company and can be quickly and easily corrected. On major projects, where performance is critical, you’ll want to give as much supervision as is needed to ensure successful completion of the task.
Another crucial aspect of being the head is to make yourself available to those who come to you for guidance, support or any kind of outright help. However busy you may be you have to make it a point to attend to them. Many times you can tell them to come back a little later after listening to them; but never shout or bark at them and send them back. Then they will never willingly to come to you and this can have serious consequences in the work front.
Certain things dampen employee motivation and primarily if the Manager himself is less attentive to their problems their motivation will be killed. As a manager, you may have a dozen things to worry about but still you have to keep it aside when one of your shop person walks up to you for any kind of clarification which is stopping his progress.
So, although you’ve got a lot to do, give your first attention to approving, reviewing, and okaying projects in progress. If employees stop by to ask a question or discuss a project, attend them calmly and dispose. If you’re pressed for time, try make it short and explain or you can call them back. This will let your people know you are genuinely interested and will not shy away from coming to you as often it is needed.
If your people complain about work conditions, listen – whether or not you may be able to accommodate the request. By providing the right equipment or workspace, you can achieve increases in output . . . open with a minimal investment. If they are asking for something which is not immediately affordable, explain them instead of asking them to get lost. You will be able to improve the workplace little by little with the help of some small adjustments in our attitude towards them.
If one has to grow he has to be a person open to fresh ideas, innovative and a person willing to take calculated risks that change the working philosophy itself. Stereotype Manager is not any corporate will want to own. They may have such managers; but they wont prefer to own them. A real Manager will have to keep thinking for some better changes always, better methods that can accelerate the production without compromising the quality at a lesser cost.
You will have to extract innovation from your people; but you have to be receptive to new ideas and moreover it will never hurt you if you give a pat on the back of your boys and them to produce new ideas. Once they are convinced that their boss does listen employee suggestions and ideas to work they will feel elated and come with more ideas. Many of their suggestions could be trash. Even if you get one idea click the efforts would have paid off. But to gain this trust you will have to be a good listener. The moment you shout down before even heard the person in full, be sure that you have lost the ground. Many managers have a habit of saying “we have tried and know it doesn’t work”. You have to understand that certain technique adopted and failed in the past does not mean that it wont work today. It is the question of giving a try or convincing the person as to why you don’t want to do it that way for the time being.
You have to be receptive to ideas from any person – big or small – to achieve real success in your profession.
Madhu K. Nair [19-07-2006]