Team | Collins McNicholas

Preparing Your Team to Cope While You Take Extended Paternity Leave

Preparing Your Team to Cope While You Take Extended Paternity LeaveQuestion: I am a senior manager at an engineering firm heading a team of six. My wife is due to give birth to our first baby and I want to take time off when the baby comes. However, I’m worried about missing too much time at work and not being around to support my junior team members. How can I prepare them to work efficiently and confidently while I take extended paternity leave? Answer: Firstly, congratulations on the impending arrival of the new addition to your family – an exciting time for you. You do need to be able to have confidence that your team will continue to work effectively while you are away. Employees need guidance but also need to be empowered to make the decisions necessary to be productive, and carry out their duties, when their manager is not present. This is what you need to work on now. Managers will say they want to empower their employees, but few actually do. This can be the result of a lack of trust on behalf of the manager who may think that the employees will not perform equally as well when they are not there or fear that employees will become too independent. Some managers fear that if they let the power go, then they may not be required any longer. On the other hand, many employees are afraid to take on added responsibility and be held accountable for their decisions. Empowering employees requires a great deal of trust by a manager – they must be willing to hand over the decision-making process, and elements of a task or project, to allow others to come up with the solutions. Empowerment will happen with varying degrees of accountability or responsibility being handed over to an individual or a team. However, be mindful of the risk that the individual or team will become overwhelmed or ‘bogged down’ with all that is on their plate. Communicate: Have open discussions with the team – identify the key tasks and responsibilities, have clarity around what they need to do and what the manager will do to aid the process. Discuss how willing and ready they are to be accountable for the task and the decision-making. Categorise: Consider colour coding into areas where the employees have full decision-making powers; areas where you need to be involved; and areas that management have to sign off on. Some employees might not have the right skills to take the correct action alone in certain tasks. If the risk is too high to leave the decision solely in the hands of the employee, this needs to be clarified. Boundaries: The manager needs to respect the categories that have been set out. If an employee comes to the manager requesting their opinion on a non-critical issue, the manager should put it back to them and ask them to come up with the solution. The employee needs to think the issue through and make their own decision. Urge to help: Most managers feel compelled to counsel the employee to prevent a mistake from happening, but this can make employees less inclined to take risks in the future. You must sometimes allow the team to make a mistake, which can be a major learning experience. Clarification: Ensure the team knows the difference between responsibility and accountability. An employee has ‘responsibility’ for the tasks he or she is required to perform as per their job specification. ‘Accountability’ is where they are answerable for their actions regarding a particular task or project. It is important that the manager does not hold the employee accountable for the more serious tasks in the project – they can only be accountable for the tasks they are competent to carry out. The process of empowerment should start at the recruitment stage. This follows into induction and training when the goals, direction and responsibilities are clearly outlined. The manager must truly trust, respect and have confidence in an employee’s ability to make appropriate decisions and take actions when they are absent. If successful, then micro-management is a minimum and it’s a win-win for everyone.           Michelle Murphy Director Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group This article was originally published in the business section of The Sunday Independent on the 5th of November 2017, and this version can be seen...

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Helping a New Team Leader Rise to The Challenge After a Rocky Start

Question: I’m the senior manager in a MedTech firm. I promoted another staff member to team leader after he showed exceptional skill during a successful trial period. Eight weeks into his role, two team members have raised issues about his leadership qualities. I promoted him because of his high standard and think he will be a fantastic role model. I want to see him do well, and inspire confidence. How do I bring this up without causing tension between him and his team? Answer: Leading a team long term requires a specific set of skills. But many who are successful at a senior level struggle to make the transition from management of operations or projects to people management. Often training, mentoring and on-going support are required to assist them. 1 Why is this issue arising now? As the team leader has successfully completed a trial period, consider what is the difference between the environment now and during that period. Is the workload heavier? Are there stresses now that did not exist before? While other team members are citing issues with their direct-line management, perhaps there are other issues. Gather information on the performance of the team, attendance records and project requisitions. Garner informal feedback from other team leaders or managers. An overall barometer of the composition and performance of the team will allow you to ascertain if the issue is with the direct line management of the team or with the more strategic issues of the allocation of workload, stress management or more complex dynamics within the team itself. 2 Initiate a coaching-based conversation Organise a confidential space to...

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I’m worried about how I’m going to make my mark as a young first-time Team Leader

Question: I’m in my early 30s and nearly 10 years into a successful IT career. I’ve recently been given the responsibility of managing a team of junior staff. If all goes well, I’ll be offered an official management role. However, this is my first time taking any kind of team leader responsibility and I’m worried about taking on such a big responsibility. I’m determined to be a good mentor and a strong team leader but I don’t know where to start. How can I approach this new role and start off on a strong note? Answer: First of all, congratulations. It is great to hear that you understand the gravity of the change that you will be undertaking in your role. High-potential individuals, having displayed exceptional skill in their role, are often promoted to the very different position of team leader or manager. While seen as a natural “next step”, the skills required in managing people are often very different to the qualities and actions required in the day-to-day role. For example, delegation, empathy, planning, negotiation may all be demanded daily of a team leader. In order to approach the role with confidence, take some time to think about how you are going to approach this new opportunity. Here are some items that you should consider. 1. Examine the key characteristics or skills of a leader or manager you respect or admire Take some time to contemplate the qualities and actions of a current or former leader, which you have seen as being particularly effective. Focus on the areas that you believe makes them successful, rather than just what makes them...

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Company Day Out in Limerick

Collins McNicholas recently had its annual company day in Limerick city. Every year the entire company gets together to have some fun, meet the newest members of our team and catch up on what is happening in the company. We choose a different location each summer, last year it was Killaloe, and everyone was delighted to find out we would be going to Limerick this year. Limerick has tonnes of interesting things to see and do, great accommodation options and the people are terrific. Our day started bright and early when we took part in the launch of the Mid-West Relocation Survey, along with our partners in the Limerick Chamber of Commerce, Limerick City & County Council and IDA Ireland. The survey was a remarkable success. It highlights the vibrancy of the local communities, not just in Limerick but throughout the Mid-West region. Lots of people are relocating to take advantage of the many job opportunities that have appeared because of the regions rapid growth in the last few years. IDA Ireland sited it as the fastest growing region for FDI in the country. Multinational companies are recognising the many advantages of setting up a facility in Limerick, with its large pool of graduates from the University of Limerick, and the overall cost-competitiveness of the region. Recent investments include Regeneron, Element Six, Northern Trust, and Uber, to name a few. That afternoon, following the success of the survey launch, we had a beautiful lunch at the Strand Hotel, where we also stayed that night, before proceeding to the Milk Market for a series of games organised by Get West....

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