Tools at the Ready: A Review of our Must-Haves for Managers

Ok, managers. You may recall that we kicked off this blog series on essential management tools by asking you this question: “Are you winning?” So now, as we bring our series to a close, what we’d like to know is: has your answer to this question changed at all?

Obviously, we’re not expecting four blogs to work instant miracles for your management issues (although if they have, please let us know – we enjoy positive feedback just as much as your team members do). But what we do hope is that your response to this question has changed a little. We’d love to think that an answer initially along the lines of “Not a chance,” may have improved to “Not yet, but now I feel better equipped to deal with it.”

And if you do feel a bit better equipped, fantastic. Because the key to our kit is this: use it. All the time. Unlike those various other kits which clutter up our cars, our garages, our garden sheds (they seemed such a good idea at the time, right?), this one contains the exact components you require. There’s nothing too complicated. There’s nothing you won’t use. And there’s nothing that won’t work. As PEPworldwide managing director Kathryn Anda observes, “None of this is difficult. It’s simply a matter of having the right tools and techniques to hand.”

And so in the interests of encouraging the everyday use of each critical component, let’s familiarise ourselves once again with what’s inside our toolkit:

Tool #1: The right mindset.

Remember this one? Attitude is everything. This tool is about ensuring that both you and your team have established the right foundation for future success. We’re sure you’ll recall our soccer team analogy: everyone should be playing on the same side, with a clear line of sight towards the goal. Team members should be future-focused rather than reactive, empowered to share ideas, and receptive to change. And so should you: are you leading by example?

Tool #2: Effective communication and collaboration.

A critical component of our kit. And, you’ll remember, the best way to foster a collaborative culture within a team is through a short, focused weekly team meeting. Make attendance at these a priority: provided everyone comes prepared, a weekly meeting offers a great opportunity to ensure everyone is on track, to forestall any potential issues, to communicate essential information and to celebrate success. In other words, it’s a team-building exercise – just not the usual tedious type.

Tool #3: Delegating.

As we discovered, difficulty with delegating is an all too common complaint. But it’s always worth taking a closer look at why you’re having trouble handing over the reins. Is there a performance issue that needs to be managed? Is a team member struggling with prioritising? Are you clearly communicating the what, the why and the when? Remember that ineffective delegation will impair your ability to perform your role successfully – and that’s not good for you or your team. In other words, it’s essential to work on this particular skill. Practice makes perfect.

Tool #4: One-on-ones.

Possibly the simplest, but arguably the most powerful, component of our kit. We hope that our post on the importance of prioritising these performance-boosting sessions encouraged you to reassess their value. Take the right approach with these – schedule them in advance, be prepared, focus on the strategic rather than the insignificant and always follow up – and you’ll take your team’s performance to the next level. Most importantly? You’re building valuable trust with your team members, too.

Which segues nicely to our final piece of advice: don’t ever underestimate the impact you have on your people. “Ultimately, team success starts with you,” says Anda. “We see many people struggling because their managers make things unnecessarily difficult for them – instead of leading by example, they’re constantly in crisis, they request things at the last minute, they have unreasonable expectations.

On the other hand, we also see situations where several team members will leave alongside a manager who’s moving into a different role. And what compels these people to make the move to follow their leader is that this person has so effectively empowered, engaged and inspired them.” If you needed any final encouragement to make regular use of your kit, that’s it right there, adds Anda: “These simple tools could enable you to become the best boss someone’s ever had.”

There’s one final question to consider, then, managers.

What sort of leader do you want to be?