What is a Line Manager and How to Become a Great One
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a line manager as:-
the person who is directly responsible for managing the work of someone else in a company or business, and who is one level above that person.
Simple…sounds easy enough doesn’t it?
What are the Responsibilities of a Line Manager?
It’s when you start to unpick the role in a bit more detail that it becomes clear that there is really quite a lot involved in being a line manager…
- Day-to-day management of people.
- Measuring performance and managing costs
- Coaching and developing employees
- Providing technical expertise and checking standards
- Monitoring and allocating work.
- Dealing with customers/clients.
Managers are also responsible for supporting wellbeing, monitoring capacity and workloads, maintaining safe environments and referring employees for support when it is needed. Add on responsibilities for shaping and maintaining the organisation and team culture and you’ve quite a job on your hands!
It is often said that there are as many styles of management as there are managers and it is undoubtedly true that a wide variety of approaches have been adopted in pursuit of excellence. In this blog I would like to suggest no matter how varied the style there are a few important and universal characteristics that are possessed by truly great managers.
The Importance of a Great Line Manager to Your Business
The most successful managers take time to think carefully about the personality, experience and skills of their team members and manage their team to bring out the best in each person.
A great manager will harness a person’s particular talent to deliver a performance that benefits the team, identifying and deploying their skills on tasks that make a difference and move things forward. A manager that is able to challenge each employee to excel in his or her own way will reap the benefits of a committed and engaged team.
Identifying and utilising each person’s skill set is paramount. Every employee has a set of natural abilities that are tied closely to their personality, experience and working style. Recognising and deploying skills that an employee has taken many years to develop is a powerful tool to motivate and engage employees.
An employee that is trusted by their line manager feels empowered and will take ownership and be accountable for their own work. Overtime management of these individuals becomes easier and easier and in some cases, employees will manage themselves, with only minimal intervention required.
These approaches create a strong sense of team, as members of the group appreciate the skills of their colleagues and interdependency are created that fosters camaraderie and high performance.
There are three things that exceptional line managers recognise with individuals and within the team dynamic. Along with recognition of their employee’s strengths, managers also need to understand the triggers that motivate their staff, and how they can be encouraged to develop and grow their influence within the team.
The right trigger will encourage an employee to push themselves, overcome resistance and collaborate positively with others. Identifying a trigger won’t always be easy and every employee will respond in their own way to management intervention. Some may thrive on regular meetings, others need to be left to themselves to get on. That said, there is a trigger that every manager can rely on to motivate and promote positive performance…recognition.
Great managers realise that each employee values recognition from a different audience, perhaps other members of their own team, a customer, or indeed their manager. A thoughtful and personal approach to praise and recognition is likely to prove productive and will also help to build confidence in employees that may need to face tough challenges in the future.
Training and Support
A manager must recognise that confidence and resilience are crucial components of an employee’s toolbox and that boosting these traits is always valuable. At times of stress and failure, an employee will draw on the successes and self-assurance that has been built in better times.
The way a line manager ensures that an employee performs collaborates with colleagues and develops resilience is by developing and nurturing them. A great manager will make sure that essential training is available when it is needed, and equally importantly, is suited to learning style. They will allow some time for the employee to incorporate new skills, and they will recognise and celebrate improvement. A great way to encourage development within the team is by conducting regular performance appraisals.
To be great at leading others, a manager must care about their employees and adopt a thoughtful and attentive approach. The time invested in doing so will improve every aspect of the manager/employee relationship and will lay the foundations for a highly successful collaboration.
Top Tips for Great Management
- Recognise skills that an employee has taken time to develop.
- Celebrate an employee’s success but also support them when things don’t go so well.
- Lead confidently through change keeping an eye out for those that may be struggling.
- Empower…don’t micromanage.
- Communicate regularly, listen and share information.
- Make sure the team remain focused on productive outputs.
- Take an interest in career development.
- Share knowledge and technical skills generously with your team.
- Treat employees fairly, consistently and encourage diversity.