Key elements in managing staff

Like the bigger companies I have worked for: I use to say that staff is the most important capital of the business: they make it or break it. All companies I worked for had core values referring to you as a person and that we as managers take care of you and do not treat you as a number. However despite the fact that we have it written on paper, advertised on the intranet or communicating during the recruitment process there are times we easily forget the value of staff. Exactly these periods were we are losing the focus on our teams are the most important ones: peak season or key trade periods. Teams are at maximum size, operation is at full speed and now it is time to make the difference. During peak trading the pressure on all of us is the highest especially when you are part of a multinational.

I had the chance to work for family owned businesses and multinationals within the leisure industry looking at attractions or theme parks from both the operational role as the Retail Manager or Director as well as the central role responsible for multiple commercial areas within Europe.

As I mentioned I really believe staff is the most valuable element in a business. But without a proper structure and strategy in place your star team can transform to a group of individuals. I have worked within different cultures and as we all know values between cultures can differ extremely however every team member wants to be valued and be happy at work.

Know your team!
It sounds obvious but to manage and control your team, you should be aware of the motivations to work for you. What triggers them in their work? What demotivates them? What are the ambitions? What role do you have with achieving their personal goals?

I have worked with different groups of people in the age range of 15 to 60 (within one team). As you can imagine different ages will generally have different motivations. A student of 15 will only work in weekends and holidays just for the money. Incentives could trigger them as well as staff parties. A 55 year old employee works fulltime and need a safe environment and a happy place to go to. Than within these teams you always have the thinker, complainer or the one who thinks she is the communicator spreading so called messages (or rumors) across the group. The last one is often seen as negative factor however control this person and you will control the noise in the team.

Set clear objectives!
To manage your expectations your team needs to know what your expectations are. Make sure you set clear objectives and discuss these with your team to ensure you are all on the same page. I would involve the role models of my team in part of the objectives and point them out as champions as part of the engagement strategy. It is not fair to your team to give negative feedback on their performance when they are not aware of your expectations! This will create a negative ethos.

Use clear job descriptions!
Like the annual objectives you should use clear job descriptions ensuring both parties are aware of the key tasks for a certain role. Also make sure there is a person specification sheet attached to ensure you recruit the right person with the right skills. It is not fair to recruit a person for a senior position when he is still performing as a junior. This happens often when a manager leaves the company and recruitment is not delivering. The solution will be to promote the assistant or the sales host (which works for 5 years now and is an excellent sales person). A good player does not guarantee to be a good coach or vice versa!

Give the tools to deliver!
If you expect your team to deliver than you should take care the tools to deliver. This can be training, time or responsibility.

Manage poor performance!
Poor performance has a reason. Whether this is due private or work related circumstances you as the manager should be willing to get your staff member back on track. Most common work related reasons are: job is not as expected, recognition by the manager or not confident due lack of training/development.

Make sure you have a proper induction period!
Now you have recruited the right person on paper and both parties are on the same page regarding expectations you must take care of the induction period starting from day one. Not only should the induction cover the professional content but should also be used to create confidence. Small things as not knowing where the rest rooms are or how the printer works could affect the motivation. I have seen persons struggling which manager was not accessible for days during the first work week. How can you give performance feedback to a person without a proper handover and evaluation during the probation period? Depending on the job role I used to plan an induction period of 1 to 2 weeks including training and a welcome pack for new staff members. During the upcoming 4 weeks I had weekly reviews to support the newbie. I like (and would advise) to let a role model link with the newbie as a buddy (during the first week). As it is all about feeling welcome and safe in the new environment so pay attention to your new ambassador!

Listen and communicate!
Communication we all heard of it but… do we all know how to communicate and participate in the communication process? Do you as a manager listen what your team has to say? How do you respond? Do you communicate messages through the right channels making sure you are really reaching the complete team? Communication is key to engage with your team. Communication is key to deliver team work.


Leave a Reply