The missing skills of managers

Jenni Field

Since launching the business in the summer of 2017, I have been lucky enough to discuss the importance of communication with a variety of individuals. From CEO’s to event managers to internal communications managers – the conversations are always different and often challenge my own thinking. But there is one constant – the role of the manager and their role to manage.

It seems that in a world of rushing from one thing to the next and the desire to reach the top of the ladder, managers are forgetting that they need to actually manage the people in their team. I have reviewed objectives that have been signed off but are in no way achievable or measurable. I have had conversations where the team relationship is so poor that is impacting on work and people’s wellbeing, yet the manager continues to bat it back with ‘you need to find a way to work together’. I’m all for empowering individuals (I regularly quote Daniel Pink and his Drive theory when speaking at events) but that doesn’t mean you are absolved from being a manager.

If this is something that rings true, these are the three things I always start the conversation with:

Make time
I conduct a lot of interviews and 1:1’s with team members – whether it is to prep for a workshop with a senior team or to help understand why things aren’t getting done. During these sessions my focus is on that individual completely and I allow two hours for the conversation (on average). This is part of my role and as a manager it is part of yours. Make time for your team, really listen to them and help them overcome challenges (put your phone away, take notes, prep for the meeting). Recognise their achievements and work with them to help them achieve their own goals and aspirations.

If you don’t know how, ask for help
I see many managers managing people because they are really good at the tasks involved in the job. They have had little training in how to manage and they have had even less exposure to the importance of communication in that relationship. I am a firm believer in continuous learning and in doing so, I have a network of people I can lean on and resources I know I can go to for help. This isn’t a weakness, it is a necessity for me to be able to be help coach, mentor and lead in what I do.

Be accountable and make others accountable
Make sure that what you say and do are the same. A few years ago, the Edelman Trust Barometer highlighted such a gap in business and CIPR Inside hosted a conference on this theme. Being aware of this gap and its impact can really change relationships and cultures in the workplace. If you say you’ll be at a meeting at 10, be at the meeting at 10. Consistent behaviour builds trust and enhances individual credibility.

I have seen the change in a team when the manager starts making time to hold them accountable. This isn’t micro-managing, but it is following up to check in that something is done if nothing has been said about it. Knowing someone is interested in what you are doing, and will follow-up, can make a real change to how much the individual cares about the task.

Some of this might sound very basic and you might read this thinking ‘of course I do all this’ – and that is great. But I have had one too many conversations this year to not put pen to paper and ask that if you are managing people, please make sure you are making time for them, equipped to manage and your being accountable in all that you do.

3 comments on “The missing skills of managers

  1. This article speaks so much truth. Managers, especially line managers are a key channel for helping employees understand how strategic messages are relevant to them as individuals. As IC professionals we should be joined up with our learning and development colleagues to help support managers. There seems to be a big gap when internal candidates are promoted because they are good at their job but not always given support with the other skill areas that managers need, including communications.

  2. Hey there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy
    reading through your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal
    with the same subjects? Many thanks!

    1. Hi – thanks for your comment! There are a few out there so I would check out Influence online, Ella Minty, Advita Patel and All Things IC. Happy reading!

Leave a Reply to Dan Holden Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *