Leadership wake-up

By Megan Alexander

Managers who look after staff reap rewards. Photo / Thinkstock
Managers who look after staff reap rewards. Photo / Thinkstock

Keeping important projects on track is the number one issue keeping New Zealand finance and accounting managers awake at night.

A recent survey by Robert Half found 41 per cent of leaders were concerned about the timely delivery of their projects.

The second-biggest concern was maintaining staff morale (37 per cent), followed by ensuring costs are under control (30 per cent). So what can we do to empower managers, help them stay on track and let them get a good night's sleep?

When it all boils down, ensuring staff are engaged and committed to delivering quality work is key. Take care of your people and this will in turn take care of other business issues such as productivity and cost.

Effective leadership drives a company forward, and it all starts at the top.

It is no longer enough for leaders to be technically proficient at what they do. Professionals need a full range of skills - this rings particularly true for managers.

"Soft skills", those that revolve around people-orientated abilities, are more important than ever.

They are most often the ones which let managers down in terms of empowering them to communicate openly and effectively, to gain respect and trust, and enable them to motivate and inspire staff.

Growing well-rounded managers takes sustained effort. Development needs to happen at every level of an organisation, along with accountability and performance management.

Good managers provide employees with clear direction on where they are going, how their role aligns with meeting company objectives, and what they can expect from the business in return.

The most successful businesses have developed a comprehensive management strategy that drives senior team effectiveness. They provide coaching, education, support and empowerment, the cornerstones to building great leaders.

Here are some tips:

Recognise good people are always marketable. Your most talented people have options, so treat them with respect and they will remain loyal.

Communicate openly and often. Ensure your team knows the business realities of the company and understands the role they have to play.

Support your workers and keep their trust. Stand up for your team members if they are unfairly criticised. If you are there for them, they will be there for you.

Never sacrifice quality for quantity. Don't let service slide because your team is swamped. Take action to encourage a high standard at all times.

Show recognition. Ensure it is specific, genuine and timely. Reward based on results generated towards company goals rather than long hours.

Managers who want to create that level of connection and retain staff should ensure they get the basics right. Don't give up on training or investing in people no matter what the economic environment is like.

A business is only as good as its people and that starts at the top - look after them and they will look after you.

Megan Alexander is general manager of Robert Half New Zealand.

- Herald on Sunday

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