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Being an Effective Manager


As well as a leader, public health specialist work also requires being an effective manager.  You could be reponsible for first line management of teams or for managing the managers of teams. Either way, you'll need to have a few tricks up your sleeve. 

The 6 Functions of a Manager

  1. Establishing Objectives
  2. Organising
  3. Motivating
  4. Developing People
  5. Communicating
  6. Measurement & Analysis

The 10 Skills Needed for Effective First Line Management

  • Recognising Self-development needs. This comprises of knowing the learning style of your employee so that you and s/he can develop an effective means of communication. Some people are Activists (learn through having an experience); others are Reflectors (learn through reviewing the experience); they may be Theorists (learn through concluding from the experience) or they may be Pragmatists (learn through planning the next steps).
  • Providing a good Induction . This is actually really important to getting the most from an employee and often overlooked. Induction should cover the 4 'Ps' - i.e. Place, policies, position (job role, objectives, functions, tasks, projects) and people (who do they need to meet). A good induction should comprises of three layers - the first day, the first week and the first month. After the first week, there should be an opportunity for feedback just to ensure that the person is finding their feet. Another tip is make sure you cover what is immediately important to the person - pay, having a desk with working IT, knowing how to claim travel expenses, knowing how to use the photocopier and where to go for an ID card. This may seem obvious but from my own personal experience, it is often overlooked.
  • Managing Performance. A manager's role in managing performance is to help the individual to meet objectives. This involves identifying and agreeing performance objectives (which are SMART), reviewing progress against these objectives and agreeing improvements, monitoring performance against objectives and selecting appropriate methods to improve performance where necessary. You need to be educative, supportive and managerial (i.e. quality and accountability). Being educative means developing skills, coaching, feedback and setting of Personal Development Plans (PDPs). It is good practice to have regular one-to-ones (at least monthly). It is also good practice for the employee to provide an update for this 1:1 and there be some minute taking of what is discussed and what actions are agreed. These 1:1s are in addition to staff meetings, team meetings and review/appraisals. An annual appraisal (with mid-year review) is also a beneficial thing to do. Sometimes you will have to manage poor performance - this involves asking the person what is going on(perhaps they have a personal issue that is affecting their work), then discussing the issue before setting standards which are to be achieved and which can be measured and reviewed. Again this all sounds obvious but often busy workplaces can weaken our perceptiveness. Some people thrive with encouragement, others need a warning to get their act together. It's about identifying which tactic to take.
  • Problem Solving. This is often aided with a tool such as a fish-bone to identify causes or related factors of a problem, mind mapping, 'six thinking hats' or PMI (plus, minus, implications). From this exercise, you would then set objectives for the solution - perhaps dividing into must (essential objectives), want (important but not essential), would like. Then weight them. Objectives must be effective, efficient and viable.
  • Using Information . This comprises of the information cycle - generating the right type of information, reviewing and analyzing information, sharing and retrieving information, using and acting on information and understanding information requirements.
  • Leadership. This is about building trust - aiming to be a good enough leader not a perfect one. See Instaskills notes on Leadership.
  • Team building. There are teams and workgroups. A workgroup is the sum of individual contributions. In a team, the work is collective. A team work together to achieve common outcomes or a specific end product. Whilst a workgroup has one leader, a team has shared leadership. The ideal size of a team is 4-10 people. When building and managing a team, you will need to be aware of Belbin's team roles (i.e. Co-ordinator, innovator, team worker, implementer, shaper, resource investigator, monitor-evaluator and completer-finisher) and Tuckman's 4 stages of forming, storming, norming and performing. An effective team will have balanced roles (mix of talents and abilities), shares clear objectives and goals, has openness and confrontation (issues faced and dealt with rather than avoided), has a climate of trust and support, displays co-operation and deals with conflict, has sound procedures, has leadership appropriate to its membership, reviews its progress regularly, is concerned with the personal and career development of its members, has sound inter-group relations and has good communications.
  • Has Budget skills. These consist of quantifying objectives, identifying priorities, defining income and expenditure, communicating plans, authorizing expenditure and activity, controlling expenditure and measuring performance against objectives.
  • Managing diversity. This is gaining increased importance in public services.  A diverse workforce consists of people belonging to different cultures who have different needs, characteristics, aspirations and expectations.   Each employee will want these differences to be respected. Having a diverse team is a good thing as it ensures a variety of viewpoints and fosters innovation. Diversity management focuses on organisational initiatives to value difference, promote non-discrimination and respecting individuals regardless of their race, gender, religion etc. It is different to but complements  equal opportunities.  See http:// for tool kits and advice. 
  • Managing change. This involves knowing the nature of change, planning the change and managing people through the change. There are a number of tools you can use to help you such as TROPICS for assessing the nature of change. This helps you to look at timescales, resources, objectives, perceptions, interest (who is affected and how), control (who has final say)and source (internal? external trigger?). A Gantt chart is suffice to help with planning change whilst a stakeholder analysis or Kubler-Ross response cycle can help with managing people through change. The Kubler-Ross response cycle is the five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A similar pattern can be seen in the workplace as people move from initial shock through denial, self-doubt, acceptance of reality, testing (i.e. the individual is testing him/herself in the new situation), search for meaning and internalization (emotional recall is minimal). A simpler model is Fink's 4 phases - shock, defensive retreat, acknowledgement and adjustment. People can get stuck in stages so a good manager would be able to identify the stages people are in and help them through it (don't automatically assume that everyone will do it naturally!)

Personal Management Competencies

  1. Act assertively
  2. Act strategically
  3. Behave ethically (i.e. identify concerns and resolve complex dilemmas in an open and reasoned manner)
  4. Be able to build teams
  5. Have good communication skills (a little tip here, do check understanding before assuming the person knows what you have asked. What you think you have communicated may not be the message received).
  6. Focus on results
  7. Good at influencing others
  8. Good at managing self - including adaptability to the changing world, taking advantages of new ways of doing things
  9. Good at searching and finding information
  10. Make decisions.