Managing people – Listen to what they need to help them grow
Words by Jo Irvine, career coach at NABS
In my coaching sessions, managing people is a subject that is often discussed. Thinking about how you would like to be managed yourself is a good place to start. Another thing to think about is what the people around you need to thrive.
I have managed lots of people throughout my career but it took me quite a while to realise that everyone was not like me. I believed I was a good manager who knew how to empathise and understand the people I worked with or managed; but the truth was I did not take the time to get to know them enough. I believe now, that taking time to listen to and understand the values and expectations of individuals is key to developing a productive and happy working relationship.
A great example and the one that made me change the way I worked forever, was when I was working with Alice. Alice and I worked well together, I felt we had a good working relationship. She was intelligent and wanted to develop within the organisation. However there was always a problem when the ideas were flowing and then her chance to shine came around. She often got frustrated and went quiet or was confrontational. As our relationship developed I realised what the problem was. She worked differently to me, not just at a different pace but in a completely different way. She needed time to reflect, to think things through. I, on the other hand, responded immediately and the ideas for me would flow in the moment, I liked to get my hands dirty and try things out straight away. We were communicating in a different language.
As soon as I realised, I started whenever possible brief Alice plan in advance of meetings to give her the time she needed to think things through and come to that meeting feeling prepared and at her best. I know its not always possible to do this, but starting to find ways to offer time to share our thoughts before meetings made all the difference. Soon she began to develop within the organisation at a great pace. This was not all down to me altering my management style, it was also down to her asking for support and explaining what worked for her. Giving her the space and support to do this was also important for her to feel comfortable to speak up and share her ideas.
I don’t think managing people is complicated, I think its always challenging but fundamentally as people we need to feel that we are equal. That we have opportunities to share our thoughts and ideas and can debate them to find solutions to problems both in and outside of work. Think about what you need as a person and what makes you happy. Trying to find ways to overcome challenges and find what motivates you in a work situation is important. Ask your team and colleagues what works for them; find ways to accommodate them and give them a chance. It’s a good place to start but they also have to respect the way the organisation works and sometimes there will need to be compromises.
A useful place to discuss your challenges in relation to managing people or indeed how you want to be managed yourself is in a coaching session. Coaching is confidential and your coach will be impartial. In a one-to-one coaching session you will have the opportunity in a safe space to talk through your experiences and ideas. In doing this with your coach you will begin to find solutions and ways forward. Just talking through the challenges helps you to see the solutions.
Book a coaching session with NABS to filling in this form if you are based in London and the South East, or this form if you are based in Manchester or Scotland.