Guide For New Managers & Leaders : It is common practice to appoint a new department or school manager from the ranks of successful teachers or coaches or, in industry, engineer or other “production” positions. Such appointed persons sometimes have little or no practical management training.
This article can then become an important “gift” for the newly appointed manager. It describes a productive and brain-friendly management practice. A good manager is a good leader.
The basic job of a manager is to help those who report to him succeed in accomplishing their mission. Any manager who simply acts as a “boss and evaluator” does not provide an environment that encourages maximum productivity to his team members.
The most effective managers lead their team members with clear goals and systems, sensitive listening, opportunities to be involved in shaping operations, opportunities for professional growth, and unobtrusive monitoring. The main goal is to provide help to team members when they need it, not to “catch” them when it doesn’t work. Solid leadership behavior is the foundation of good management.
Good managers focus on the basic needs of team members. These basic needs are:
1. Possession, 2. Personal power, 3. Freedom, 4. Pleasure.
Let’s review each one in turn.
Including. Employees can be most productive if they see themselves as valuable team members (departments, divisions, groups).
A leader-manager can support this perception by:
1. Hold regular coordination meetings to keep everyone fully informed and provide opportunities for feedback, planning revisions, and cooperative discussions.
2. Discuss in advance with the team or individual members about possible changes in mission, roles, resources, etc.
3. Willing to feel comfortable to discuss individual ideas or problems.
4. Be willing, where possible, to arrange special working conditions to accommodate the temporary personal problems of each team member (making loyalty a two-way process).
Personal power. Team members need to be respected and recognized to maintain their enthusiasm. Managers must work to ensure that:
1. Each team member has an important task he or she can complete.
2. Important achievements are rewarded with recognition and, where possible, with wider responsibility or authority and a salary advance.
3. Ideas and suggestions from each team member are carefully considered and where possible, used.
The above actions show each team member the power of his or her personal effort.
Freedom. Managers should give each team member as much authority and freedom as possible to direct their own work within the school, company, or mission guidelines. Having choice and control over one’s own work process can be a major motivating factor. Second guesses and excessive direction from a manager are the main factors that demotivate.
Exciting. The best teachers know that student productivity increases with careful use of downtime and relaxation periods. The best managers know that balanced opportunities for relaxation, humor, and socializing are an important part of motivating team members.
Now let’s review another important factor beyond the needs of team members. These include Evaluation, Two Way Management, Lateral Management and Special Attention.
Team member evaluation. Evaluation should be a monitoring and helpful process. A manager should accompany any constructive criticism with helpful suggestions and/or resources. This does not include the right to call for attention or issues to be addressed. It just fulfills basic management responsibilities to help people succeed. Also, be sure to allow the evaluation to appeal or clarify evaluation issues; give their explanations sincere consideration.
A manager shows strength and confidence in himself when he decides to change an evaluation because the person being evaluated makes good reasons for the change. Finally, the entire evaluation process is strengthened if an objective and participatory management process is followed.
The process is one of the managers and evaluation in determining the desired performance goals and standards, each contributing to the process. Then the evaluation will be much more objective because the standards have been agreed in advance.
Two-way management. The previous advice focused on managers supporting their members. However, remember the opposite direction. As a manager, one of your other basic tasks is to inform your manager — the principle of no unnecessary surprises.
This allows your manager to help you and depend on you. In other words, you are now working together in both directions — with your team members and with your manager. Expect the same principle of no-surprise from your team members. It helps to tie the organization together.
Lateral management. If possible, assist and cooperate with your management partner, for example, other department heads. Again, expect this lateral help among your team members and from your team members to those on other teams. If everyone in an organization accepts the basic task of helping others in the organization whenever possible, the culture of belonging becomes stronger. Organizational productivity can be even higher.
Special attention to your manager. Before you take up a management position, have a two-way discussion about these suggestions with your prospective manager. If he doesn’t agree with some of the basic principles in this article, think carefully before you accept the appointment.
For example, if your prospective manager is not planning on giving you a significant degree of freedom and authority, you will find it much more difficult to give that freedom and authority to those who work for you! If your prospective manager doesn’t see evaluation as a help rather than a process being done for you, it will be harder for you to emphasize help.
If your prospective manager “never changes his judgment” when appealed or explained, he is not someone who listens carefully to others; which could result in you being treated and evaluated unfairly in a new management position.
If you accept a management role under a manager with beliefs or habits that could undermine your effectiveness, do so with full acknowledgment that managers are likely to blame the results of their brain-friendly practices on someone else; You can be one of the others. Avoid such managers if possible. Of course don’t be that kind of manager yourself.
Summary of main points. Here is a summary list of some brain-friendly (good) and brain-unfriendly (bad) management practices. The numbering in each list is related to the other lists. Try to use good practices and avoid bad ones.
Brain Friendly Practices/Good Management:
1. Clarify the mission and goals.
2. Listen carefully to others.
3. Involve your team members in planning and decision making in the management system.
4. Give your team members opportunities for professional growth or learning.
5. Use monitoring data to help your team members succeed.
6. Hold coordination meetings. Keep everyone informed.
7. Available for individual discussion.
8. Willing to arrange temporary special working conditions to assist individuals with special personal problems.
9. Define meaningful tasks; recognize and reward equal progress.
10. Consider and use suggestions from team members whenever possible.
11. Give team members as much freedom and authority as possible to direct their own work.
12. Promote balanced opportunities for rest, relaxation, socializing, humor and fun.
13. Emphasize helping and encouraging aspects of evaluation.
14. Keep it up and let your manager know (no surprises).
15. Increase lateral support among peers.
16. Evaluate your prospective manager’s philosophy before taking on a job as a new manager.
Brain Friendly/Bad Management Practices:
1. Assume that team members know their mission and goals.
2. Emphasize telling those who work for you what to do.
3. Emphasize telling those who work for you what to do.
4. Let team members shift on their own on professional growth.
5. Evaluation at the end of the assignment; don’t “disturb” people until then.
6. Emphasize memos to tell team members what to do.
7. Limit your availability to individual meetings.
8. Enforce the same working conditions and rules for everyone at all times.
9. See solid performance as usual and expected, not worthy of special recognition.
10. Emphasize telling those who work for you what to do.
11. Require team members to do things exactly as you specify.
12. Concentrate on work and production at all times.
13. Use evaluation to “shape” the other person and tell them what to do.
14. Do not provide additional information to your manager; only answer when the question is asked.
15. Stay focused on the individuals doing their jobs and not on those who care about others in the organization.
16. Don’t care about the habits or beliefs of your prospective manager. You can’t do anything.
And now, good luck with the responsibility and pleasure of helping others to succeed! Following that theme can make a management position very profitable.