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What A Difference A Week Makes

Sometimes a little tweak in how you manage your people can make all the difference. And sometimes, it's vital to look for something that will change relationships - and that can mean moving your focus slightly for a while. I'm a great believer in the simple things in management. It is NOT hard to so - it's simple.

One of the most valuable activities a manager can take is just to get into conversations with his people. A middle manager I've been working with, recently found this out the slightly hard way - then again he got there! And what a difference it made. New in his management, he'd really struggled. There was a mountain of things to do in his new department and every one seemed vitally important. That's just the way it is sometimes.

So he made a small and yet critical decision. He focused on the things he had to do, rather than the people he had around him. In fact he got on with the 'stuff' of the business, rather than getting used to the people. Truth is, in a department his size, the stuff is not what a middle manager is there for.

It can't be, otherwise he would end up doing all the work himself - and that is just impossible. In our discussions, it was clear that he was finding the going tough - so I gave him a week off! I asked him to consider spending time with his people, coaching, supporting and mainly listening to his people. Engaging them in the conversations they wanted, whatever they were about.

During that week, he was weak - and he didn't spend every working moment in conversations with his people. He did a few bits of 'stuff'! That was OK - I let him off! What he did find was that his team of people were truly up to support him, now that he'd taken the time to make friends and show an interest in them as people. Living breathing humans who have a life outside work. By showing an interest in them as real people, he was able to gain their support and have a whole raft of willing, capable and enthusiastic people around him.

Key relationships are not just about the limited number of direct reports a manager has. It's about encompassing the whole team, so that your character, your interests and your caring permeates right down the levels of whatever hierarchy your business has. Working with people in a way that empowers them and unleashes the potential they have is amazing.

And so my client found. That's management and why it's simple, NOT hard.

2005-6 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com

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