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The simple truth


Management doesn't always have to be complex; sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference.

I was working with a group of managers recently and something blindingly obvious struck me.  Now, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll have realised by now that I’m often not the sharpest tool in the box – it sometimes takes me a little while to spot things that other people seem to think are obvious.  I’m not embarrassed by that – I think it’s a great talent because often the things that most people take for granted are the things that really need to be challenged, but I digress.

I was talking with this group of managers about the four keys to employee engagement, as outlined in the recent McLeod Report.  After we’d talked about it for a while, I had an exercise for them to do, where they had to come up with some ideas about what they could do to help their teams engage more.

After ten minutes or so, we reviewed their ideas as a group and that’s when I was struck: about three-quarters of what was written on these flipcharts, for each of the four keys, essentially boiled down to better communication.  The point they had reached was that the people in their teams would be happier and more engaged if they (the managers) talked and listened to them more often.

That seems like common sense to me.  Unless you really don’t like your manager, it seems fairly certain that if he or she pays more attention to you, demonstrates interest in what you do, in how you’re getting on (inside and outside of work), if you have some kind of genuine relationship with them, you’re probably going to be happier in your work.  It won’t turn a poor job into a great job; it won’t turn a job you hate into a job you love.  But it will make it bearable, at the very least.

Talk to your team.  Spend time with them.  Listen to what they have to say.  Care about them.  Can the secret of management really be as simple as that? There are other aspects to management, clearly, but deep down these things are the fundamentals.   We forget that teams aren’t machines – they are (often arbitrary) collections of individual human beings.  And as human beings we need to feel that we matter and that what we do matters – as I tried to illustrate last week.  In our search for efficiency, we can forget the simple but effective things like just talking to someone, asking how they are.  This week, take time to talk to your team.  It may not change anything this week but that simple act done consistently, over the long term, will make all the difference – to them and to you.

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