Most managers feel as though the weight of the world is on their shoulders. It’s understandable because management, though it can be fun, can also be stressful. Most of the time it’s stressful because managers feel as though they’re supposed to know all the answers, and that they have to exude strength by being all knowing about every phase of the job.

team building
by Michael Cardis via Flickr

Unless you’re what I call a “working” manager, within a month you’re probably going to have forgotten most of the basics of just what it is you used to do. By “working” manager, I mean that you still do the same thing you did before you got the management position, but now oversee others who do the same work.

In most cases, that’s not how management works. Most of the time, you get promoted to a management level position and the job duties change, yet you still have to oversee the production of those who are still doing what you used to do. Trust me on this one; you may retain all the basics of what you used to do before, but if you’re not doing it every day anymore, you can’t possibly remember it all.

So, why not ask for help? From whom, you may ask. I say ask for help from your employees. I’m not saying go up to them and ask for their help directly, although that is a choice you can make. What I’m saying is that, in my estimation, it’s essential for you to try to build a team concept into those who report to you in some fashion, in order to help keep you abreast of any changes, all situations, and even glean a thing or two from those who are still doing the job.

Here’s the thing about doing something like this; if you’re not doing it now, or if you’re a new manager at any company in the world, you can apply the same techniques and be successful. The only thing you have to do is make sure that you’re sincere in your wish to involve everyone in the process, yet still retain the right to decide to go another way if you feel your expertise and judgment supersedes drastically that of the people you’re gaining opinions from. You can’t be a phony because your team will fall apart.

You have to be in charge of the team, lead them through the paces, keep everyone on task, and you’ll see that not only will it be beneficial, but you’ll feel less pressure because you’ll know you’ve taken everything into consideration. So, before you go into this process, make sure you really want to do it, because it’s going to take a lot of dedication on your part, and you’ll find that it’s a much different way of working than you’ve probably dealt with in the past.

The first step is to have a general meeting with your employees. If where you work doesn’t allow you to have everyone in one meeting at the same time, break it into two sessions and allow those in the first meeting to cover for those who need to attend the second meeting. It’s crucial, at least the first time, that you involve everyone in the initial meetings. After that, if the situation dictates it, you can decide who’s critical to specific meetings and go from there.

For your very first meeting, there is no specific job content; at least not from your perspective. You need to have an outline, however, of what you wish to cover, and the direction you want the meeting to go. Every time you have a meeting of this sort, you should have some kind of outline, which can be as sketchy as “new stuff” and “old stuff” if need be. You will find, though, that once you get into the habit of writing an outline, you’ll easily have enough topics, sometimes so many that you won’t have time to get them all in.

On your first outline you need to talk about: the merits of the meetings you hope to have; how everyone will be involved; how you want to hear their opinions and how you’re going to offer everyone an opportunity to speak; whether you’re trying to solve an issue or just getting information; time frame for the meetings; expected decorum during the meetings (in other words, no getting personal, every idea has some kind of merit); advance notice of meetings and topics of meetings; taking minutes of meetings, distributing them later on, and how notification of solutions will be given.

Be prepared for this; whether you’re new to a company or have been around awhile, you’re going to get the feeling that they don’t believe you. Trust me, they don’t. Some of them have probably heard this before. If you’ve been over them and you haven’t shown this to be a pattern before, they’re going to be even more skeptical. That’s okay; skepticism is easy won over if you believe in the process yourself. Your first step, after the initial meeting, is to send around minutes of the meeting to every employee that was involved, which I hope is all of them. If any issues came up, they should be included.

Then you, as the manager, needs to follow up on any issues that came up, and give resolutions, if there were any. If you never get back to the employees on issues they bring up, regardless of what they are, you’ll lose them, and have wasted a lot of time.

What will you find? You’ll find that you will create an interactive group that not only will feel energized, but will give you many good ideas that you may be able to implement. You must always be ready to give credit to those who come up with useable ideas; don’t ever be afraid to praise anyone. Most studies conducted over the last 5 years have shown that more people are looking to have a say in the process of how they do their jobs than in making more money at what they do. What do you have to lose in giving it a shot?
 

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