Wednesday 17 January 2018

Bosses need to look at their own management style to maximise potential of staff

Mary Hanson

MANY employees spend a considerable amount of their waking hours in work, thinking about work or commuting. For those lucky enough to be in jobs that engage them and develop their personal potential this presents little difficulty: the blurring of boundaries between work and non work is not problematic, although there is the daily challenge of juggling priorities and competing time demands.

But not all workers have the inner resources to stay serene in the face of increasing work demands. Work environments have become more pressured: a tough business environment has forced many businesses to do more with less, cut costs and get more out of its workforce.

Management tools have become more refined and it is possible to track performance and output in a wider range of job roles than ever before. Many of the emerging companies in Ireland have a strong sales or customer service orientation.

In the large call centres that now employ thousands of staff around the country, managers can track volume, quality of contact and ultimate outcome of all employee transactions with customers. While this makes eminent business sense it can put pressure on staff if not well managed.

Employees find that an environment of increasing regulation and compliance, a greater sharing of views across functions and a more team-based approach requires more face time with a myriad of colleagues, all of which can get in the way of the "day job".

Many people bemoan the time they spend at meetings and in getting sucked into email correspondence about things they are only peripherally involved in. There is an onus on organisations to manage this and ensure that in their efforts to keep everyone on side they don't clog up the works.

In particular, managing meetings effectively is a huge challenge, and when managed poorly, can be a source of major aggravation and downright stress for those attendees who feel they have better things to do with their time!

Not all stress results from a pressure to reach targets or produce results. At the individual level, the type of boss you have to deal with can have far more impact on your stress levels than actual work volumes can.

Research over the years tells us that an autocratic boss, an incompetent manager, a poor delegator or one who has no work/life balance is unlikely to create an environment where staff can achieve results in a relatively stress-free way.

Our ability to manage the daily challenges and frustrations of work is the key to keeping our personal levels of stress at bay.

Sometimes we have to make hard choices and those who have a balanced view of life, know what is truly important to them and don't take themselves or their work too seriously appear to manage the hurly-burly of life the best. And if all else fails, take heart from the thought that the only man who ever got all his work done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe!!

Mary Hanson is a human resources consultant and can be found at

Irish Independent

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