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Triangular Management – How To Manage Yourself, Your Team And Your Boss

Written by: Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway

Managers have the unenviable tasks of managing others. I say this because people are difficult to manage and sometimes it can be in a climate of hostility where there are clashes of personalities and differences of opinion. One of the best ways to become an effective manager is to is to engage in triangular management. First you must learn how to manage yourself before you can manage others. Second you must come to grips with how to manage your team and third you must learn how to manage your boss.

A small group of business professionals sit around a table

1. Managing yourself

a) Know what you want

You must have the desire to reach your fullest potential. Becoming a manager is only the first step on the ladder. Gaining a job with responsibility for others, points to the need for self- development and growth within your role and responsibilities. This means knowing what motivates you and gives you the energy and passion for your work. It is natural to bring your emotions into your work environment, but they can sometimes trigger unpleasant memories particularly if you see a reflection of yourself in others. Without knowing it, we internalise negative images about others because they represent a story or a message that is unconsciously engrained in our minds. These are usually messages that were given during childhood by parents, teachers and significant others with the ability to influence to way we think.

b) Develop self-awareness

Managing yourself means being aware of your values and how they operate within the working environment where you must interrelate to others that are different to yourself. You must know your trigger points and how they can lead to conscious and unconscious biases. You must also know your strengths, weaknesses and areas for growth. This is where a coach can help you to become introspective and interrogate the aspects of your character that you may want to overlook.

c) Value yourself

You must value yourself and what you are bringing to the table. People with low-self-esteem find it hard to cultivate a mindset of possibilities and move beyond what others think of them to what they are capable of becoming. They want to please others and may allow unacceptable behaviours from team members to persist in the interest of being liked and accepted. Valuing yourself requires that you build self-esteem and a sense of worthiness in your ability to develop and become a competent manager.

d) Become reflective

The art of reflection is one of the most powerful tools for identifying limiting beliefs. You must create time and space to reflect on your work, your relationships and your performance and how your beliefs might stop you from being the best you can be. It is only as you reflect on your actions that you will be able to make a paradigmatic shift. You must be willing to pause and think during and after your actions. Using a daily journal is like a lighthouse for managers who are seeking to find the way to their destination. It means being intentional about growth so that you can move along a continuum to higher levels of self-development.

2. Managing your team

a) Help people to grow

In order to support your team, you must help them to grow so that like you they can reach their potential. You want them to be inspired by the way you model leadership. Your success does not belong to you alone, but to the people who are there to help you to reach targets. But over and above reaching targets you must motivate your team and help them to feel a sense of achievement and encouragement. Where team members lack knowledge, skills and abilities your role is to help them find avenues to develop whether by giving them opportunities within the team or supporting them to study and gain a qualification. As a manager, part of your role will be to come to grips with different personalities, resolve conflict and focus on people’s strengths.

b) Value your staff

Usually, people working in a team follow their leader if they feel valued. There are different ways of valuing people but one of the best ways is to give recognition and praise where it is due. Valuing team members begins with seeing the best in people and helping them to improve in the areas where they need support. Although it is difficult when you are focusing on results, it is important to know the different personality types in your team. There are different personality types and profiles that you can access to help you build a composite picture of each team member. Knowing people’s personality type will help you to value them for the person they are and not what you want them to be.

c) Be empathic

To be empathic you will have to walk in another person’s moccasins for a mile. An empathic manager will give room for staff to express their frustrations, failures and disappointments while giving them the opportunity to grow. An empathic manager is one who is able to hold another person’s emotions and have a vision of what they are experiencing. Researchers have found that empathy has two dimensions, one is to known as ‘affective empathy’ which means to mirror a person’s emotions. The other is ‘cognitive empathy’ which is the ability to identify and understand people’s emotions. There is no doubt that staff enter the work environment with many emotional struggles and while you may not be able to solve all of the problems your staff are experiencing, if you can be empathic, it will help your staff to adjust and come to terms with their feelings. Being empathic will help you to notice when a member of your team is struggling with work or personal issues and be responsive.

d) Create the right environment

The environment you create is all-important for building and sustaining healthy relationships. Dysfunctional teams major in disagreements, in-fighting and a lack of team spirit. These types of environments are toxic and inevitably lead to stress, anxiety and fear. A culture of blaming and bullying can flourish where more powerful team members are rewarded and promoted for destructive behaviour. Some of the helpful strategies for creating the right work environment is to become aware of the signs and symptoms of toxicity and take corrective action. Support positivity and hopefulness within your work environment by allowing free expression of thoughts and ideas. Build in regular team meetings where you can openly discuss your perceptions of what is going on and allow team members to have their say without fear of reprisal.

3. Managing your boss

The last in the triangle is your relationship with your boss. Line managers act as an interface between staff and their boss. Their positioning is like the meat between the sandwich. They are feeding information up and down and trying to keep all parties happy. The boss is one step removed from staff and may not interrelate with members of staff unless there is a disciplinary issue or a problem to be solved. In order to fulfil your role, you must:

a) Manage your boss’s expectations

It is a part of your boss’s role to have high expectations of you, but sometimes bosses can be unrealistic and demanding. They have a different perspective and may put profit before people. You will need to be able to challenge erroneous views, opinions and harmful misconception about members of your team. Be prepared with facts, not feelings, so that you can justify your actions. Speak in a respectful way and one that does not allow an unhealthy relationship to develop and bad feelings to fester between you and your boss. If your boss becomes unreasonable take one step back but be resolute in defending your point of view. Keep good records and evidence of your actions and share them openly and on an on-going basis with your boss. Bosses like their feathers to be stroked, therefore you need to balance their needs against your own needs and the needs of your team. As well as giving your staff support you should expect support from your boss and bring it to their attention.

b) Think About a Trade-off

There will be times when as a manager you will need to do some trading. This is how you sit back and consider what is worth fighting for and what is not. A trade-off will allow you to think about what you are willing to give up and what you will stand up for because it is a principle and a highly held value. You will never be able to change the fact that your boss is your superior, and there will be a power imbalance, consequently you will need to accept that fact. Nevertheless, a trade-off is an excellent strategy because it can lead to a win-win situation. One example of a trade-off is delaying your personal gratification in order to cement your position by building a trusting and collaborative working relationship with your boss.

c) Know your Boss’s Pain Points

We all have areas of our functioning that do not sit comfortably with what we want to achieve, therefore it produces unwanted pain. Your boss will have people above him who are expecting results. Needless to say, if he/she is unable to reach goals and targets the pain of failure will percolate down to you. The demands of leading also comes with expectations from other stakeholders who want to see the business thrive. Knowing what keeps your boss awake at night agonising about the business and its performance will help you to manage his/her anxiety and reduce the pain. To do so, you will have to ask questions about the nature of the pain. For example, is it associated with low performing staff, is it to do with stress of working long hours attending meetings and so on. Is the pain totally outside of the parameters of work and related to his/her personal life. Whatever the pain maybe you can reduce it if you are able to identify where the pain exists and how you can help to relieve it. In this way you will manage your boss by helping him/her to manage the pain.

d) Understand your Boss’s Leadership Style

In order to manage your boss, you will need to understand his/her style of leadership and how it could impact your performance. All bosses have different leadership styles, some are autocratic, they prefer to hand down rules and regulations leaving little space for creativity. They are decision-makers and like the power of telling people what to do. In these situations, use your head rather than your heart. Some leaders have a democratic style, they make final decisions, but also give autonomy and leave room for people to be creative. With this leadership style be responsible and manage your time and resources sensibly. Others have a laissez-faire style that gives a lot of freedom, but can be perceived as an ineffective style of leadership. With this style do not take advantage of your freedom. These styles of leadership are akin to parenting styles and show up in the workplace. Knowing these leadership styles will give you an indication of how to respond to your boss’s expectations. Whether your boss is autocratic, democratic or laisses-faire you can transform the way they think about you and your team.

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Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway Brainz Magazine

Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway began her career in 1982 when she qualified as a social worker. After making child-care her specialism, she became a team leader and a manager. She has worked for forty years in the public and private social care sectors making a significant contribution to the development and learning of others. In her role as a manager, she developed leadership skills which she has used to teach and influence others. She became an educationalist working as a lecturer for many years. As a life coach, keynote speaker and author Dr Ince-Greenaway is known for her enthusiasm and passion concerning such issues as leadership, social justice, social inclusion, empowerment, personal development as well as the development of others.



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