Managing people is often the most stressful part of any leaders role. As a manager, it is your job to bring together a team of individuals to achieve a set goal, so getting along with everyone is extremely important. However, learning to be a great manager isn’t easy and conflict in the workplace can sometimes leave you wondering if you are in the right job.
When things aren’t going well within the team environment, it is natural to want to identify who has created the problem in order to solve it. The abundance of online articles detailing how to give better constructive feedback is testament to this. However, by focusing on modifying someone else’s behaviour in the first instance, we often miss the biggest opportunity to put ourselves in control of changing things – by changing ourselves.
Knowing that we can all do with a little self-assessment at times, here are a few strategies to help you improve your own management style and become a better leader.
If managing conflict within your team has you emotionally exhausted, talking through your feelings with a professional management coach on a regular basis may help put things in perspective. Even investing in a short people management seminar can help you upskill and give you confidence in dealing with uncomfortable situations as they arise.
Most professionals at management level have achieved their position by being good at their job, something they may have spent years perfecting through higher education and work experience. What we often forget is that managers don’t always have the same depth of experience leading a team before they are expected to. There’s no shame in working on your managerial weaknesses – professional improvement courses look great on the resume and are usually tax deductible too.
If the micro-manager within you constantly wants to double check everything your team is doing, finding a way to step back is a great way to show you are committed to improving your managerial skills. Implementing a daily checklist can be a helpful way to manage your team in a less stifling way. Explain the idea behind the system before you implement it and acknowledge that it is to help you improve as a manager as well as empowering your team to do what needs to be done without constant supervision. Ask your team for input on the tasks to be completed to build ownership of the new approach.
Having a set routine that is followed consistently helps everyone know what needs to happen, when and to what standard – even when you aren’t there. This delivers peace of mind to the micro-manager and shows who in the team is committed to doing their bit. After a while you might even find the routine is self-enforcing; team members may start keeping each other accountable because they know the routine so well.
Consistency doesn’t mean there is only one way of doing things and you can’t change the routine when you need to, but it does give team members the confidence to go about fulfilling their duties secure in the knowledge that you won’t be second-guessing their work.
Set Realistic Expectations
High achievers often expect themselves to perform well in all areas of their life, which means they can often be disappointed when situations not totally within their control, such a working relationships, are not going well.
Whether you are a high achiever or not-so-high-achiever, the sobering truth is you may never be best friends with the person at work you can’t seem to connect with – and that’s ok. If you can’t be besties, why not aim for comfortable co-workers instead?
By letting go of your desire to have the best working relationship possible with this person, you free yourself from being disappointed. Try to set a smaller and more realistic goal if you must. If they don’t seem very interested in talking to you at work except when they have to, maybe exchanging a friendly greeting each morning and afternoon would be enough to reassure you that you can work with this person when you need to.
Taking the initiative to modify your own behaviour shows leadership. What’s more, by making the effort to improve yourself as a manager before trying to modify anyone else’s behaviour, you eventually get a better idea of why there was a problem in the first place. There will always be issues to resolve, but looking at yourself first is a great way to continually improve and you will become better equipped to resolve conflict as a result.