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female managers of staff - question...

(29 Posts)
helsi Tue 26-Jul-05 21:30:54

what kind of manager are you? Are a a friend to all?
Strict to the point of being scary?

I'd be interested to know as I have just atekn over a team with a lot of problems and need to make up my mind what stance to take.

joash Tue 26-Jul-05 21:35:21

I was in a similar situation a few years ago. I think it's best to be a bit of everything, depending on the situation or circumstances at the time. Be honest and open from day one. Hold regular meetings and let 'em know at the first one about the problems (without pointing anyone out) and ask for suggestions for dealing with them. If theres that many problems, think about 1-1 supervision on a regular basis, and set action or development plans for individuals and the team. Sounds like a lot of work, but it can be done if your team knows from the outset, where they stand and what they can expect from you. Hope this helps.

Magscat Tue 26-Jul-05 21:36:51

I try to adapt my style to suit the member of staff. In general I prefer to be friendly & trusting but of the 3 people I manage, there's 1 that I have to be more direct with, keep more of an eye on and one that I would trust without ever checking up one. (The onther one's in the middle).

wordsmith Tue 26-Jul-05 21:37:07

I used to manage a couple of people (not much of a team!) for a while and I just tried to be fair. I worked in a 'friendly' company so that was the way business relationships worked, but I just tried to ensure that everyone knew what we were trying to achieve and their place in achieving that. I tried to encourage my team to 'grow' which in turn produced better work. However in the business in which I worked (PR) a lot depended on people's personality so encouraging their natural ability was the only way to get anywhere really.

Having observed female managers in other situations though, I would add that many try too hard to be scarily strict as they often assume that the men in their team won't respect them otherwise. IME this just stifles creativity and breeds resentment.

I suppose it depends what type of business you're in though.

serah Tue 26-Jul-05 21:38:30

The one bit of advice I can give you Helsi, is not to be a friend to all. Or, in truth, anyone of them. Be friendly, but not a friend. It makes stuff oh so more difficult if thats what you set out to be.

Magscat Tue 26-Jul-05 21:38:58

Agree with what joash said. Communication is key. Let people know what's expected of them and of the team. Openess and honesty are crucial.
Letting the team make suggestion is great but you also need to be prepared to make a decision and stick to it. They might not always like it but if you can explain your thinking you should be ok.

helsi Tue 26-Jul-05 21:42:33

I have my first team meeting tomorrow and I intend to discuss the issue of the arrears of work and tell them that I expect a bit more application trying to clear the backlog. I have also decided to set daily/weekly targets for them all as previously they just helped them selves to claims and there was no way of checking who was doing what. I have been keeping an eye on this over the last few days and some people clear 8 and some 24 a day. they have all been there a while now and so I expect due to their experience that they clear between 15 and 20 a day from now on.

joash Tue 26-Jul-05 21:43:16

What do you do helsi?

helsi Tue 26-Jul-05 21:44:21

I work in a processing team for people claiming financial help through a government dept.

edam Tue 26-Jul-05 21:46:18

Depends on the team and what you want to get out of them. And the culture of the organisation. Sorry, not very helpful!

I was very successful as an 'enabling' style manager when I had a team of talented, dedicated people. I came on board at a difficult time when they all felt threatened. I got them to adopt my vision (lots of brainstorming type stuff so they came up with some of the things I wanted to do themselves), once everyone had bought in I could largely trust them to deliver so didn't have to be the breathing down your neck kind of boss. Lots of listening, encouraging those whose confidence didn't match up to their ability, lots of support and training for those developing new skills. Obviously some 'that's not going down the right track, this is what we need to do here' but largely giving people the encouragment and freedom they needed.

But came unstuck when I moved jobs and had to deal with the deputy from hell. Tried the same approach as with previous deputy (in both cases deputy had applied for my job), ie recognising talents, ensuring they kept some areas of responsibilty, encouraging. But didn't work with cow from hell woman - had underestimated her sheer nastiness. In retrospect think a. I should have been far, far better briefed - turned out she'd seen off her two previous bosses and was known to be a complete nightmare. And b. should have cracked down from the start - gave her too much room for maneouvre which she used to undermine me.

Basically, find out what their triggers are and use them. If one person is motivated by praise, and another by targets, you have to adjust your style a bit to meet those needs. Can't recommend regular one to ones enough - at least monthly but weekly or fortnightly for anyone who is not up to scratch or has a steep learning curve. Make sure you book rooms way in advance. Gather info from other managers at your level in the organisation.


joash Tue 26-Jul-05 21:47:24

Scary - clever woman then I hate jobs to do with finance...can't do numbers

helsi Tue 26-Jul-05 21:48:20

Thanks again. they have not been settled and have had quite a few managers in a short space of time. I found out yesterday that they have had a secret bet as to how long I would stay.

they are very bithcy and catty and are quite childish in a way - all are older than me though.

joash Tue 26-Jul-05 21:55:58

Bugger their ages. Just keep it in your head that you are obviously the more capable one - otherwise, surely their new manager would have been promoted from within the team. SHow em what you're made of. I'm sure you'll be fine, in fact more than fine - you'll be bloody good. You've proved that by takin the time to ask for support on this.

serah Tue 26-Jul-05 21:58:07

I have to admit I would have never have thought of the thing that Edam came up with, but I like it - the brainstorming thing, so in the end, they come up with what you want to do, and feel like its their idea.

Now THAT is a brilliant idea, on so many levels.

edam Tue 26-Jul-05 22:37:11

Why thank you kindly ma'am <<takes a bow>>
It worked! You have to do it properly though - take at least half a day out of the office with a facilitator and lots of different activities. My HR training person did the facilitating bit for free - we came up with a bit of a strategic plan between us for running the event to get the outcome I wanted... but I did genuinely take on board the team's ideas too. Wouldn't have worked if I'd just paid lip service to them.

serah Tue 26-Jul-05 22:49:50

lol Edam. TBH helsi, it isn't friendship (in the true sense of the word) that a team are looking for, but teams do resent feeling as though they are being forced to do things.

If I were you, I would really take on board Edams experience here. It may be that budgets don't allow anything other than an hour or two in a meeting for you - but a nobbo board and a marker pen for brainstorming sessions allows you to pick out the stuff you want to - and its all their idea! Try and find a way of making it work for you, and you will outstay any "bet" on your longevity.

If I were working now, you can bet I would use it!! (no-one tell Edam, she'll want a percentage )

nightowl Wed 27-Jul-05 02:36:56

i was supervisory for a while. i always tried to be kind and fair. it didnt work in my favour however as the little * ended up telling ME what to do, twisting management round her little finger and stealing my job. just dont be TOO nice!!!!

WideWebWitch Wed 27-Jul-05 07:25:38

Hi Helsi. Quick thoughts: I've always asked my teams for their views since a/ they may have valuable experience to share and tell me loads of stuff I don't know plus b/it gets their buy in to a project/set of objectives. ooh just read Edam's post and I agree. Helsi, if you get very logical about this it will work. You need to quantify the problem and establish your starting point first and then set clear team and individual objectives. Work out where you want to be and how you're going to get there. Show people how they're doing against those objectives. Do not be their friend, you aren't, you're their boss. You cna be friendly, sure, but you have to keep some distance especially if you're reviewing their performance and work output. Also recognise that different things motivate different people and that people have different strengths, which you can sometimes play to i.e. if you have someone who loves xxx work and you have some xxx work, give it to them rather than the person who doesn't like it. Sorry if this is obvious. Also, sell the team/its members the benefits of doing what you want them to do - will your initiatives make their working lives easier/more satisfying/nicer? Tell them about it. If you've got the budget, give incentives for good performance/ideas: or if you haven't, see if you're allowed to give things like a lie in - someone who has performed the best is allowed to come in an hour later. You also need to think about what you will do with people who don't meet your targets. How will you handle that process. Hope there's somethnig in there that will help. Knowing there was a bet on would make me SO determined NOT to leave until I'd achieved my goals tbh! Good luck.

CountessDracula Wed 27-Jul-05 08:48:32

I agree with a lot of what has been said already, just a couple of points to add

Try and get the ideas for self-improvement to seem as if they come from within - eg say I've noticed that although you are v. competent you don't seem to be as confident as you might OR you seem to be very confident in your work but that is not translating into the volumes we would expect - followed by "What do you think? How do you feel you could address this? What help can I or someone else give you?"

Then let them spout forth - often you will get grievances or they will confide in you about for eg a family situtation that is weighing on their mind or something like that. Agree a plan of action with them (eg yes I will deal with x that is bothering you, that will free you up to concentrate more on your targets OR why not come in late on a Weds and work your lunch hour if that will fit in with your situation better) Make them feel that you are listening to their issues and they will resolve them.

Oh and very simple, but give people rope. Treat them like grown-ups until they prove that they can't be trusted, then you have a reason to clamp down on them. I have in the past gone as far as twice daily meetings to review targets and tackle issues. Once people realise that they can't muck you about they will either shape up or bugger off!

TBH I can't abide people who can't be grown up about work and take responsibility for themselves but you will find that most people do really want to be, they just sometimes don't understand how, or they have no clear and achievable targets therefore no motivation. Provide them with this and you will get results.

runtus Wed 27-Jul-05 11:29:58

That 'give people rope' idea really works, well it is for me right now anyway! I have a nightmare Sales guy that is relying on the age old "I haven't got enough leads to work from" excuse as a reason to not perform to the required I'm letting it lie for now, whilst building up a whole ream of stats about his performance compared to his counterparts.......hanging himself really!

runtus Wed 27-Jul-05 11:30:27

Or at oleast I hope he does - otherwise I may!

CountessDracula Wed 27-Jul-05 15:38:21

helsi what probs do your team have?

ScummyMummy Wed 27-Jul-05 15:48:29

I think one thing to consider is that it may be unwise to rush in and change lots of things very quickly. I'm not a manager but I've been in teams with new managers and invariably immediately making lots of changes seems to be a mistake. On the other hand you do need to show that you are a good leader with initiative so leaving everything as it is for yponks is no good either. If you do go the strict route don't forget to tell people what they are doing well too. I think that's crucial and something people can forget when they are desperate to show how strict they are!

Tinker Wed 27-Jul-05 16:02:20

Also, you have to be quite clever/subtle at the "brainstorming to make it look like it's their idea" thing. Most staff can see through this technique and you may be perceived as a tad lazy!

slartibartfast Wed 27-Jul-05 16:45:56

If it feels hard now, open the first (of the three) envelopes left for you by your predecessor. It will say "It's bad now: just say 'it's my predecessor's fault'"

If it's still bad in three months, open the second envelope. That will say "It's still bad: but it was really bad when this envelope was written: just say 'it's still all my predecessor's fault'"

If it's still bad in another three months, open the third envelope. That will say: "Write three envelopes .... "

The old ones are the best.

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