Dawn Wray, Therapist, Coach and Co-founder of The Listening Collective, explains how all managers can have a more positive impact on their teams.
Why Your Impact Is Important
As a manager, whether you like it or not, how you bring yourself to work matters – as it has a disproportionate effect on the people around you.
You can’t lead people unless you have a sense of what’s going on for you.
When you are unaware of this, you risk inadvertently impacting your team – possibly even in a changeable, unpredictable fashion – and driving a negative or uncertain atmosphere, all of which can have a detrimental impact on your long-term team culture.
It can be easy to get sucked into the idea that your primary job is to manage and lead other people and not really think about yourself, but you can’t lead people unless you have a sense of what’s going on for you.
This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be ecstatically happy every day. It’s about being authentically you BUT being aware of the impact you have on those around you.
This can help you be more self-aware of what you need in any given situation to feel more comfortable and thrive.
Key Tasks to Practise
Here are 6 top tips to help yourself and your team:
1. Check How You Are “Landing” in a Meeting
Ask yourself “How am I feeling today?” If you’ve just had an argument with your partner, or the dog has just chewed the sofa, or you are late for work, that’s all going to affect how you show up.
This is true for your team too. This is where it can really help to get in the habit of checking how your team are landing in a meeting.
Just a quick whizz round of honesty about any bad night’s sleep, worried about X project meeting not going well, or a family member is ill can help to start the meeting off in an honest way.
It also gives managers the opportunity to address any issues. For example, if someone isn’t in a good place, they can ask “what do you need to be here, to be ok?”
This could be a cup of tea, or some time pencilled in later to chat things through, for example. By starting the meeting with this conversation, it makes it easier to navigate the tasks that need to be completed that day.
Leaders need to proactively address any issues that are demotivating their agents. For more information, read our article: 35 Surefire Ways to Demotivate Your Best Agents
2. Don’t Take Up All the Space in the Room
As a manager, it’s really important not to take up all the space in the room. There’s a two-way dialogue going on between you and everybody else and you need to strike a delicate balance.
Ask yourself “am I leaving enough space for the people in my team to speak up to have an opinion, to ask questions to challenge me?”
The skill is in knowing the balance between those two things – how much to bring to the conversation and how much space to leave.
3. Think About What You Pay Attention To
Also think about what you value and pay attention to in these conversations, as what you give attention to is what gets done.
If you only pay attention to the tasks, this leaves a gap for people to feel like they’re not being treated as individuals, but if you only deal with individuals, then you risk the job not getting done.
You need to find a balance in what you value and pay attention to, so that you set a positive tone for your team.
At the start of each day, this can be about setting out the jobs that need to be done in balance with how everyone is feeling.
4. Don’t Just Pretend Everything Is Fine
Despite your best efforts, there may be times when situations arise and the team atmosphere becomes uncomfortable, putting you in desperate need of a reset button.
You may already be faced with a toxic team culture, but don’t worry, you can take steps to change things for the better.
One way to approach this is to step back and ask your team what’s happening. Stop pretending everything is fine, put the tools down and name what is actually going on – because you’ll get into a much bigger mess in the long run by papering over it.
Then, as a manager, you need to be authentically interested in learning more about the situation and how to fix it – even if it’s uncomfortable to talk about.
Looking for advice on how to deal with toxicity in the workplace? Read our article: How to Identify and Manage Toxic Employees
5. Be Curious When Things Don’t Seem Right
These negative situations are also often handled more easily when issues are addressed sooner rather than later.
This means that sometimes, as a manager, you must put your ego aside – even if you are feeling upset or victimized by what’s happening – be curious and find out what’s going on.
For example, if your team suddenly switches from happily making each other rounds of tea in the morning to not really engaging and not doing that any more.
Why not ask, “I’m intrigued. Why is no one making each other a cup of tea in the morning any more? What’s happening here?”
This means that sometimes, as a manager, you must put your ego aside – even if you are feeling upset or victimized by what’s happening. Be curious and find out what’s going on.
Starting the conversation early can help to get to the root cause of the problem before it has a chance to fester.
6. Be Aware of the Impact of Differences on Your Team
To be a self-aware manager, you also need to acknowledge that you see the world completely differently from your team.
Even aside from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) agenda, you are a different person, with different experiences.
As a manager, you need to meet and accept that difference. This really helps when handling different opinions in the team, as it helps you to understand that everyone’s opinions are from a different perspective to yours, are valid, and aren’t wrong just because they don’t align with yours.
This also extends to being considerate of different pay grades and being conscious that you are a more privileged and higher-paid member of the team – particularly conversations around holidays and other niceties, when you may have lower-paid members of the team struggling to find the money to repair their car or pay for childcare.
Every Journey Begins With a Single Step
Don’t panic if this is all new to you! Be kind to yourself. After all, no one can transform their management style or team culture overnight.
It’s a journey, and taking practical steps to become more self-aware and build positive habits into your working day can make a big difference in the long run… What will be your first step?
Contributed by: Dawn Wray, Therapist, Coach and Co-founder of The Listening Collective
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