Workshop: How well do you know your staff?

Knowing what makes your co-workers tick will help you to manage them better, writes consultant, author and speaker Joanna Tong.

I am often asked whether we should manage with our heads or our hearts.

Let's look at what our organisations' needs are and how they can best be fulfilled. There are thousands of organisations in the voluntary sector working towards various missions and objectives. Managers play an important part in this.

They spend hours on project planning, time management, contracting, monitoring and evaluation. In this, they need to be systematic, methodical, objective and analytical. Does this mean that, as long as managers are process-driven, they will be good managers? I do not think so.

Process needs to be implemented by people. Managers may well have total control over the process, but they do not have the same influence on people. Their role is to motivate and supervise people rather than to dominate them. It demands different skills.

When managers repeat the mantra "staff are our most valuable resource", they need to ask themselves how much they actually know the people who work for them.

Do we pay enough attention to the skills, strengths and talents on offer and use them fully? Do we have a good understanding of everyone's aspirations and passions and encourage them? Moreover, on a day-to-day basis, are we aware of the issues affecting performance, and are we addressing them properly?

How can we find out? It goes beyond surveys and data analysis. Getting to know our most valuable resource is by no means a logical task, because people are dynamic by nature. Managers need to use all five senses to attain meaningful interactions with staff. It is important to watch the body language, listen to the tone of voice, speak with consideration, smell the atmosphere and respect emotional exchanges.

This will enable managers - subtly and discreetly - to access clues and information about team members. We can then adapt our management style in accordance with a person's character, and guide and manage them more effectively as a result.

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