Managing staff is time consuming and can be complex and delicate.  However, it doesn’t have to be a source of frustration to us and with a bit of up-front investment in each member of staff you manage, you can quickly get on top of 80% of all things management.

This is because most management boils down to three simple questions.  If you can answer these three things honestly and in full, then you will have more motivated staff and you will more than cut in half the amount of time you spend dealing with management issues.


The Three Questions:

Firstly, is your direct report really clear exactly what they are supposed to do?  This is a deceptively simple question. Expanding on it a little, do they have a precise understanding of what their priorities are and what doing a great job looks like in practice?  Is their understanding of this exactly the same as yours and do they understand how their goals fit in with your goals and with the purpose of the organisation as a whole?

There will always be differences in interpretation of what is expected.  If these are minor then that’s fine, but it’s surprising how often the gaps are far wider than either party realise.

It may be helpful here to share your goals with them.  The more they can see the context of why you want them to do what you are asking of them, the more likely they are to strive to achieve it.

Secondly, do you, as their Line Manager, know exactly what makes them tick at work? What do they want from their working day and what do they want from their career?  If you’ve been able to talk this through fully with them then this gives you a good chance of answering the third question.

Finally, between the two of you, what can you most do to allow them to achieve and deliver what the company needs whilst also allowing them to receive what they need? (For them to excel at their jobs and to achieve their goals whilst enjoying a great working day developing and progressing in the right direction for them.)

There will still be bumps along the way, but investing in answering these three questions with each direct report will give them the professional and personal context to allow them to contribute fully.  It will ensure that you discuss giving them the right tools to be successful and it will enable you to put in place the training, the coaching and the stretch projects they need to move in the right direction.


Click here to think about what motivates members of your team

Click here to think about how to best let somebody go from their current role