As you climb your career path, it’s likely that at some stage you will be assigned a leadership role and responsibilities.
For many Hong Kong professionals, the move into management can be a challenging step. After all, your technical skills and experience equip you to be an expert in your field. But good management can call for an entirely different set of skills.
Not everyone is a born leader or motivator, but as a manager you will be expected to maintain a happy, productive and loyal team of employees. At the same time, you will be responsible for the business functioning on a day-to-day basis and meeting core company objectives. It means that as a manager you need to be part strategist, part coach, part counsellor and part tactician.
Being a good manager isn’t always easy. But knowing the key behaviours that define effective management can help you succeed in a management role.
Here are seven characteristics worth working towards to make you a successful leader and manager.
People — not products — are the best asset of any business. Taking your team for granted can lead to unhappy, demotivated and underperforming staff. Worst case scenario, it could result in increased staff turnover.
That’s why a simple ‘thank you’ is so important. Offer positive feedback to your staff for a job well done — it can make a big difference to office morale and motivation.
Employees typically want to please their manager, and few things can be more frustrating for your staff than not understanding what is expected of them.
As a manager, it’s your responsibility to communicate clearly with your people — both on a one-to-one basis and as a team. Encourage employees to ask questions so that uncertainties can be clarified. That way everyone is working towards the same end goal.
These staff members can take up to half a day each week of your time. So you need to identify areas where employees are not meeting expectations, and implement appropriate measures to minimise the costs of underperformance.
Common strategies used by managers in Hong Kong include coaching, mentoring, providing further training, and transferring underperforming employees to other roles.
Your team are ready to follow your lead, but they need clear direction. This calls for you to make well thought-out decisions, and then stick to them.
Without clear guidance, your staff can be unsure about what to do next, and this can lead to no action at all. Having structure in the workplace creates a framework for everyone to follow, and a good leader takes the same approach to the same situations.
An important aspect of management is ‘managing down’ — being able to allocate separate tasks to suitably skilled employees, and ensuring everyone is properly resourced.
It can be hard entrusting tasks to employees, especially when ultimate responsibility lies with you. But you need to be able to step back and trust your team to do a good job. Trying to micro-manage everything will exhaust you — and leave your staff frustrated.
If delegating doesn’t come naturally to you, break projects down into manageable chunks and assign separate ‘chunks’ to different employees based on their strengths and experience.
One in four Hong Kong employees say they change jobs in order to achieve better work-life balance. This matters because while you want your team to be productive, overloading employees can have quite the opposite effect.
Having unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a working week can quickly lead to employee burn-out — and even the loss of skilled talent.
Aim to set goals that motivate your staff to achieve their best but keep those targets realistic and achievable.
Importantly, a manager is also a leader, and this involves particular responsibilities. It can include being a mediator of conflict if two or more employees cannot see eye to eye. But it also means you are someone who employees can look up to, and aspire to emulate.
This calls for you to lead by example, delivering your best effort 100 percent of the time, maintaining an ethical approach, being honest, collaborative and embracing innovation.
Sure, some friendly banter can help to build camaraderie in the workplace but an effective leader doesn’t regularly send out joke emails, dominate office gossip or waste time sharing irrelevant anecdotes at meetings. Think and act like a leader, and your team will respect you for it.
Meeting all these characteristics can seem like a tall order. But good managers never stop growing, learning and developing.
As a manager you are the axis on which the success of the business turns. It can be a daunting responsibility, but if you bring vision and purpose to your role — plus a genuine enthusiasm to bring out the best in your people, your management could be the driving force behind the success of your company.