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Being flexible the key to being a great manager

By Darryl Stewart, Head of the Herd

Last week I was lucky enough to do my workshop on employee engagement at Choices, an agency providing supports to people with intellectual disabilities near Hamilton.  The workshop group was 16 front line and senior managers, the smallest group I have ever worked with.  Having such an intimate group allowed me to try something new.

I had participants read profiles of two different front line managers.  These were profiles of two real front line agency managers that I met during my travels in the last year, one very successful and the other one not so successful.

Both were faced with the common dilemma of having their staff work 24/7 and how to build relationships with them.  One simply worked less hours during weekdays and took time to drop in on evenings and weekends.  The other took the work hours in his employment contract very seriously and worked during the day on weekdays only.  He tried emails and notes to the people he “supervises” on other shifts as his means of communication.  He was upset that people often ignored his emails or did not follow through on his requests.

Woman in yoga pose
Photo by lululemon athletica on Flickr

I asked the assembled Choices managers what our hapless manager should do to improve the situation.  There was some laughing and joking about certain parts of his anatomy needing to relax a bit, then we had a good discussion about flexibility.

“He needs to be more flexible.”

“He needs to flex his time so that he spends time with all his staff.”

“He needs more face time with his people.”

“He needs to understand how best to communicate with each person and not treat them all the same.”

I know this is a simple issue, but I challenge you to make sure that your business allows managers the freedom to be flexible in their approach to how they work with each of their staff.  If you are a manager and think you need to be more flexible, you are probably right.