Effective management means knowing how to walk the line between micromanaging and being too hands-off. It requires the ability to manage conflict within your team to promote the sharing of ideas. And it takes knowing the difference between offering feedback and criticism. Here are some tips from leadership experts to help you manage your team.
Good management is imperative for teams that allow remote work. Managers who micromanage or place onerous restrictions on the practice (such as requiring extra check-ins or even watching employees via video) can make good workers feel distrusted and demoralized. Managers who are too hands-off, on the other hand, can end up with people who say they’re “working from home” but are actually inaccessible or unproductive, warns Alison Green, workplace advice columnist and author of Slate.com’s Direct Report.
How can you avoid managing your team too much or too little?
- Set clear goals for what employees should accomplish in a given time period (whether it’s a week, month, quarter or year) and regularly check in on their progress.
- If an employee isn’t accessible enough, lay out clear expectations—e.g., that all phone calls and emails will be responded to within a day or that employees will set up “away” messages on office chat programs if they leave their computers for lengthy amounts of time.
Many of us have a natural tendency to avoid conflict. But this can lead us to remain silent, hindering the open exchange of thoughts and feelings—and innovation suffers as a result. However, if you’re committed to finding a resolution, conflict can actually strengthen a relationship and spur innovation, says leadership development and training expert Stacey Engle in a posting on the Fierce blog.
Engle offers these four tips for effective conflict management:
- Show curiosity and respect for even the most oddball ideas. Sharing ideas often includes brainstorming, where creativity can flow freely and strong merit doesn’t have to be present before expressing an idea. Respectful feedback can be a productive part of the decision-making process, but make sure to address and diffuse any criticism that becomes personal and is directed toward a person rather than an idea.
- Use objective data as a benchmark to help determine which proposed ideas have the most merit. This provides an effective way to reach a final decision without being dismissive of individual ideas.
- Own the decision. As a leader, it’s necessary to take different perspectives into consideration and avoid “the illusion of inclusion.” But at the end of the day, you must be the one to decide which direction will be the most beneficial for the entire company—and consensus is not a requirement.
- Address lingering emotions through follow-up conversations.
Don’t use the term “constructive criticism” when you give feedback, advises Marsha Egan in a posting on her blog Provocative Insights. It lifts you above the person receiving the feedback and puts you in the “mode of being ‘critical.’ Judge and jury. A very bad way to start,” she says.
Egan believes feedback should be seen as “positive and energizing.” She suggests opening the conversation with phrases such as:
- Here is some helpful feedback.
- May I coach you on this?
- What worked for you? What didn’t?
- How can we do even better with this?