Managing Staff

Being a people manager can be both rewarding and challenging. The way you manage an individual or team can greatly affect their motivation and performance at work. It’s a great feeling to play a role in someone’s career progression, and yet at times there can be pitfalls and stresses in being a manager.

In this guide:

How to be a good manager

Good management is about making sure you have a strong team of people, with the resources they need to achieve the goals that have been set. It’s your job to be clear about what needs to be done, and to make sure your team are aware and motivated to do it.

There’s a lot involved in managing staff performance – and we’ve all met those that aren’t so great at it! But there are certain challenges that come up often in people management. Read on to find out how to tackle them.

Supporting parents in the workplace

If you have people in your team who have children, they are entitled to numerous rights to help them balance their responsibilities. In addition to maternity rights, which begin when an employee becomes pregnant, there is also paternity leave and parental leave. People who are planning to adopt a child also have parental rights, and the rules apply the same for people in same-sex relationships.

Your HR team will be able to advise you of what these rights involve. But an important right to be aware of is unpaid leave to look after a child, which applies to any parent that has worked for their employer for a year. The entitlement is a total of 18 weeks’ unpaid leave up until the child is 18. It can be used when a child is ill, is out of school or when childcare arrangements break down, for example.

How to support carers

Research suggests that one in eight workers is also a carer, whether it be for a partner, a parent or a family member with a disability. Many employers have a formal policy stating how carers should be supported. Even if this isn’t the case at your company, it’s your role as a responsible manager to help your team perform to the best of their abilities.

For some carers, flexible working can be a good way to meet their needs – whether it’s a change to working hours, a reduced working week or the ability to work from home on occasion.

The employee might also need time off for appointments or to provide extra care at certain times. The best approach is to sit down with the staff member, explore the most appropriate options for their specific situation, and agree a way forward that works for everyone. There are a number of carer support groups that can provide advice to both carers and their managers.

Dealing with flexible working requests

Other than agency workers, anyone who has been with an employer for 26 weeks or more has the right to request flexible working arrangements. They don’t have to be parents.

As a manager you must give these requests serious consideration. The application must be made in writing and must explain the change the person is asking for, and when they would like it to start. It should also say what impact the change might have on the team and the business and how that impact could be addressed.

You can accept the request, you can request a meeting with the applicant to discuss it in more detail, or you can reject it. Legally, however, you can only reject the request if it will create additional cost, have a negative impact on quality or performance, or will mean you cannot meet customer demand. Further reasons are that you cannot reorganise the work among the rest of the team, or there isn’t sufficient work during the hours the applicant wants to work. Planned change to the team structure is another valid reason to reject the request.

Managing staff who work at home

The workplace is increasingly flexible,  which means you could end up managing remote staff who may be based in the field or who work from home. This brings some unique challenges – not least that you can’t often tell how someone is thinking or feeling if you don’t see them in person every day.

Building a good relationship with a remote worker is very important. Make sure you have at least an hour a week with them for a one-to-one meeting, either in person or via video call. The purpose is to talk through how they’re progressing against their work goals, but also to talk about any challenges they’re facing and their career aspirations. It’s all too easy to overlook remote workers for job opportunities, so you should work extra hard to support them.

Dealing with employee stress

Stress is very common in the workplace, and many of us agree that a certain level of stress can make us more productive and focused. But when stress occurs for a prolonged period or worsens over time, it can be debilitating and lead to work place absences. As a team manager you should take seriously any reports of stress from your team. By addressing early signs of stress, you can help prevent it from becoming a more serious problem.

If someone appears stressed or is reporting such feelings, take them aside for a one to one meeting. Explore the issues and how much of it is work-related. If there is simply too much for the person to do, get them additional support and help them extend their deadlines.
If you feel that the stress is coming from other factors in the person’s life, talk through their concerns and explore how they might be addressed: through time off, contact with an employee helpline or a chat with a support group.

Managing employees with mental health issues

It’s thought that as many as one in six working adults are dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression. Part of being a good manager is to make sure your team feels confident to talk to you about their mental health. Your role is to identify the severity of the health issue and signpost the employee to further support, such as the employee assistance programme, an occupational health specialist or their own GP.

Take the advice of HR experts and reassure the person that if they need to take time off, it’s the right thing for them to do.

Managing employees going through the menopause

a href=”https://www.workingmums.co.uk/the-menopause-what-employers-should-know/”>Menopause is of course something that 50 per cent of the working population will experience at some point, but it’s rarely something that’s discussed at work.  Yet women aged between 45 and 55 will often experience symptoms that can affect work – including anxiety, depression, aches and pains and tiredness caused by lack of sleep.

Being aware of this and open to conversations about it from employees can go a long way in supporting them. Some people may decide that they need certain changes to help them at work, such as more flexible hours or help managing workloads. Be a listening ear and do what’s possible to assist.

Keeping on the right side of employee law

As a manager you’re not necessarily expected to know employment law inside out, but you should have a working knowledge of your organisation’s policies. When your faced with a management issue, do refer to the relevant policy but also involve other managers or the HR team where you need to, to gain their agreement that you’re handling something correctly.

Much of management is common sense, but there are systems and people in place to support you. Make sure you use them.

Further reading from workingmums:

 

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Managing Staff & employees benefits

 

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