One of the regular readers of the Rise and Shine column asked me to address a couple of topics that would be relevant to him and his peers that are new to management and still learning to cope with work pressure.
He said when you are a new or young manager in a busy environment, you do not know how to cope with the work pressure. You get demands for work from multiple sources, your boss, the boss of your boss, from other departments or sections and even from peers and the people you supervise. How best can you manage such pressures?
- Your boss comes first: This is straight forward but in practice, we sometimes forget. You work for your boss – primarily. It is your boss that basically pays you every month. Yes the cash comes from finance after human resources (HR) team has processed the payroll, but essentially this is because your boss is happy that you have done a good job warranting you to be paid. If your boss is not happy, you will not earn your money.
When your boss gives you work, his deadline is paramount and that overrides all other priorities immediately. You may negotiate with your boss but in general his or her work takes priority. In fact, negotiation must mostly be based on either load that previously came from the boss or that directly impacts none-negotiable sources like customers or regulatory bodies or compliance matters. Your boss will understand provided you present the case verbally and politely.
- Work that has maximum impact is next: Beyond your boss, work that has big impact is the next priority. We have already mentioned customers, compliance and regulatory related work as being of high priority. Similarly, work that directly impacts revenues or may result in loss or the company may incur major penalties or costs if you do not handle is of great importance too.
Do not forget work that you do for people who matter in the business. These are people like senior managers or officers from other departments or sections. This also includes your peers or subordinates who do important work that contributes greatly to your performance. If you do not treat them well, they may not help you next time. They expect a balanced two-way relationship where you too prioritise their work.
- Don’t ignore demands from your subordinates: This is your constituency. We know very well that a member of Parliament (MP) that ignores his constituency and constituents has no more than one term of office at Parliament. In the job it is the same. Forget your subordinates and you will not last long.
Treat them well. Be there when they need you. Have time for them. No matter how busy you are, make time for your subordinates. You may postpone meeting them or cut short the time with them but don’t leave then unsupported or ignored – you will be shooting yourself!
- Keep your peers happy: At every level of the job, except at chief executive officer (CEO) level, you have peers who are at the same level as you. Treat them like your ‘classmates’. Be nice to them and they will repay you well. You need them now. And you will need them even more should you get promoted. Think of today as much as you think of tomorrow.
Should you be promoted to be their boss, you will need their support and inputs. If you are not nice to them today, they will give you problems tomorrow when you lead them.
- Delegate to offload work: You cannot always do everything. When you have so much work, delegate some of it to your subordinates. Use delegation to motivate and inspire them. They get the chance to learn work that is done by their boss. Through delegation, you are not only training them, but you are also empowering them.
In the process, you gain control on your workload. Remember that as you delegate, you need to be sure that they are capable of doing the task that you delegate to them. Train, coach and support them as you delegate them.