Sunday, 20 January 2013

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Team: Treat Them Like Children

Long ago, in a far and distant land, I trained as worked as a teacher, and had the (Warning: Sarcasm Alert!) joy and privilege of teaching for a time in what was branded as The School From Hell.

Back in those days of yore, with respect to the management of classroom behaviour, the advice and guidance to would-be teachers was essentially limited to the old adage of, "Don't smile until Christmas."

But the resources and guidance now available to those in the teaching profession are now far superior to those from a couple of decades ago.

A rather excellent text book on the teaching of children in the 14 - 19 age range (currently being passed around the HR Case Studies office) contains a wealth of very practical advice on the successful management of the classroom environment and, more importantly, those within it.

The thing that is striking is how the guidance given is easily transferable to the work or office environment. For example, have a look what is outlined below, and consider how much would not be out of place on a development program for new line managers:

  • Get to know the members of your team (by name) as quickly as possible.
  • If certain team members cause problems when working together, move them.
  • Keep your instructions short and simple, and never more than one instruction at a time.
  • Issue instructions with a specific target completion time.
  • Give instructions positively, for example, "I want you to ...", rather than "Don't...".
  • Use questioning strategies to make sure that your team members understand what is expected of them.
  • Make sure that you are aware of the codes of conduct for your organisation and also the sanctions that you can take against those who do not abide by the accepted rules.
  • Praise those who are trying to perform, but don't over-praise as this will ultimately devalue its usage.
  • Be consistent.
  • Sell the importance of any activity with urgency and enthusiasm, and link it to the benefits that will follow once it is achieved.
  • Don't tick off your entire team: identify any poor performers and address their issues separately.
  • Start each new day as a fresh page: don't carry over grudges or give the impression that what individuals did before colours how you see them now.

So the advice seems to be pretty straightforward: If you want to be a successful manager, just treat your team like children!

Unless, of course you are a teacher. In which case treat your students like responsible members of your work team!

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