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businessWe all know that we do our best work when we are having fun.  As Dan Pink, Tom Peters and others have reported, great things can happen if managers get out of the way and just let people go.

New managers often get little or no support in the challenge of creating a working environment that is pleasant and stimulating for their teams.  On top of that, new managers’ emotions are often polarised – at one end you have imposter syndrome (“these were my colleagues five minutes ago, I can’t go bossing them around”) and at the other a belief that they need to assert themselves early on (“if I have been promoted to manage then I need to show I’m in control”.)

What’s needed for people to have fun and perform at their best is confident and flexible management How can someone needing to prove their worth as a manager show restraint and let other people be the stars? Here are five approaches that can help managers AND teams succeed:-

  • Brilliance: Help each team member to be brilliant at one thing, and praise them for it.  Whether it’s dealing with clients, crossing ‘t’s and dotting ‘I’s or coming up with good ideas.  People have more fun when they are confident and feel that they add value.
  • Freedom: Give people as much freedom as you can.  Allow people choice about the way problems are tackled. Autonomy is a motivator.
  • Clarity: Be clear about what you want to happen.  Clarity make it safe.  If you are clear then I know where I stand, and, more importantly, I know what I have to do to be successful and to make you happy.  I also have a context for creative thinking.
  • Standards: Set high standards, then support people in achieving them – expect hard work but give a lot back. My friend’s son, working on a ranch in Australia, told me over Skype yesterday that there was nothing more rewarding in life than really feeling like you’ve earned your supper. Hard work is rewarding if it is well directed and fruitful.
  • Balance: Handle mistakes and underperformance appropriately.  Getting the balance right with this is tough.  Your team members must have the confidence to know that, if they make a mistake, the team will rally around them and help them get on track, however, it is important to deal with team members who consistently underperform.

Managers need support to do all of the above; new managers especially need the confidence to push for standards, whilst trusting that people want to do a great job for them.

Do you have ideas about what makes work more enjoyable and successful?  I’d love to hear them.  Has your organisation had success in this area? If so we’d love to know what you did.  You can comment on our LinkedIn or Facebook pages or follow us on twitter

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