How to become an even better manager in 2020

Grevis Beard
January 8, 2020
Grevis Beard

It’s 2020, and so, if you are a manager or leader, now is the time to ensure you have 2020 vision!

You may already have a number of things on your radar as you come back into the swing of things: projects left unfinished, that never-ending “important but not urgent” list, and strategic ponderings for the year ahead. Before you delve into the operational detail, here are three mantras to support you throughout the year:

  • Get support
  • Be proactive about problems
  • Slow and steady wins the race.

1. Get support

All too often in Worklogic’s collective experience, managers are appointed into the role of manager, but are not then given any additional support or guidance for how to actually be one!

Being a manager is very different from being the technical go-to person to “fix things or do things”. You will need to display and apply a whole new set of skills: how to inspire others, how to include and consult with your team, how to role model organisational values; how to support your team; how to deal with challenging situations…and much more.

No-one picks up these skills magically with the bestowing of a title. And often what you don’t know, you make up based on your own work experience to date – which can be particularly hard if you haven’t had experienced great management in the past! So, explore with your organisation what opportunities, programs and resources they can offer you to further develop your management skills – and understand that this is a never-ending journey of self-improvement.

Regardless of whether you are a first-time manager, or a seasoned one, there is always further ways to hone how you deal with conflict, how you “show up” in the workplace, how your regulate and understand the emotional make-up of yourself and those whom you work with. 

A good starting place might be to organise some training for yourself and other managers to refresh, enhance and practice these skills in a supportive environment (Plug: Worklogic offers an excellent half day workshop to do just this called “5 Essential Management Skills” based on insights from our Fix Your Team book).

Pick a few core goals for what you want to improve this year. Maybe some niggling feelings over the break about what did not go so well in 2019 might also indicate where you need to further improve. Be brave and bold about putting your hand up for training, for support and guidance.

2. Be proactive about problems

As a manager, it is your responsibility to spot issues early on regarding how your team is functioning, and, to take action to rectify them. In a perfect world, this happens with ease. But none of us live in a perfect world. There are many factors that can conspire to only lead a manager to act when there is a full-blown crisis demanding urgent attention. Obviously, this is not ideal.

For instance, it could be a case of a laissez-faire workplace culture (Australian translation: “she’ll be right”) which leads to serious problems going unchecked. The culture is to not intervene. Sometimes, the presenting issue is clear, but the underlying issues are more difficult to diagnose. At other times, there is a lack of clarity about how to sort things out, and so nothing gets done.

Culture is often defined to be “what is normal around here” – what we expect, what’s the norm. So when you are the manager, it can actually be hard to easily identify where exactly things are going wrong – for example, a gossip culture, a culture of overwork, of toxic personalities or of unhealthy competition. If you are hearing the exclaimation, “That’s just how things are round here!” from others, or in your own head, then explore a more pressing question: “Is that way of doing things healthy or not?“.

There are many ways in which teams can go off track. Identifying what is causing team dysfunction early, is not always easy. That is why we wrote “Fix Your Team” and developed our You Can Fix Your Team workshop. Both of these provide practical advice and assistance to managers on how to handle tricky situations and toxic personalities in the workforce.

3. Slow and steady!

Being a manager can sometimes be a bit overwhelming! A common response is to try and do everything at once (even yesterday!), and to have knee-jerk reactions to absolutely everything that comes across your line of sight. The opposite approach is actually more helpful.

Take it slowly, one day at a time. Culture takes time to build, to understand, and to change. So, unless there is a fully blown crisis needing immediate intervention, then do give yourself time to think, perceive and consider how you and your team are working before reacting – and then make a plan for improvement. 

Managing a team involves many things: showing support for everyone in the team, listening to them, being present, nudging and encouraging the culture in the right direction. That is all a slow burn, not an instant fix. Don’t be fooled that just because current technology threatens our down time and our capacity to consider issues deeply that you don’t need to reflect, to listen and to ponder what your team needs to do better or differently.

Better management makes a better experience for everyone at work. And that’s a goal we can all get behind in 2020.

About Grevis Beard

Grevis Beard, Worklogic Director, is a highly experienced and widely respected author, dynamic speaker and trainer, and workplace investigator.

Grevis speaks knowledgeably and diplomatically on how to resolve workplace conflict, manage people risk and build a positive culture at work based on his extensive experience as a lawyer and workplace investigator. Grevis delivers a comprehensive range of in-house training programs designed to help organisations resolve workplace  complaints and create a positive culture at work. 

Please contact us to book Grevis for your in-house training or for an obligation-free, confidential discussion on issues at your workplace.

Worklogic works with employers to resolve workplace  complaints and create a positive culture at work. 

For event invites and compelling insights into resolving workplace conflict and building a positive culture at work!

Integrity Line

Integrity Line is an independent whistleblower service for complaints about inappropriate conduct at work, provided by Worklogic. Click here to visit the Integrity Line website.