Many new line managers struggle with performance reviews when they are first promoted.
Now that you are a line manager it is a fundamental part of the HR responsibilities that come with your role to monitor, review and manage the performance of your team. It’s also something that you’ve probably got no experience of.
Many people find their first line management role the biggest challenge of their career. If you are applying for a line management role you should be clear about the skills that you have and those that you will need to develop.
Done well a good performance review will be a very positive experience for both the line manager and team member.
Both will leave clear on where they stand, what goals the other has for them and with a clear route to, and plan for achieving those goals.
A poor performance review will leave both parties dissatisfied.
The manager will be left frustrated that they haven’t clearly communicated their points to their team member, and concerned that goals for the future won’t be achieved.
The team member will be left feeling that it was an arbitrary and unfair process. They will be demotivated and probably considering whether they want to remain with the organisation at all.
Let’s take a look at how to do a performance review the right way in the event that you don’t have access to some specific training.
For reviews to work well you need to keep things positive and upbeat.
Think and act like a coach rather than an evaluator you set the right tone throughout.
A coach is there to review performance but always with a focus on improving and maximising performance. Feedback and criticism with this focus will come with the right tone and emphasis to be accepted and understood.
They will also be part of a two-way process with the coach listening carefully to what the other person has to say.
Also, remember that the best coaches communicate their points across using stories and gently influence rather having to use direct instructions.
An evaluator simply points out faults and strengths. There is no thought as to how useful and constructive this feedback will be and how to best phrase it. This is a receipe for a bad outcome.
Performance reviews need to be planned carefully and in advance. It is not something to do unprepared.
You need to start planning and diarising performance reviews early and stick to those plans. You also need to block out preparation time for reviews and time to review and document them afterwards.
Performance reviews are an important part of your role and you need to allocate time accordingly.
It is important that your team understands how and when you will be running reviews. Schedule them well in advance.
This gives your team time to prepare for the review and also shows them that this is something that you’re taking seriously.
Think about how often you should do a performance review. Once per year is not enough.
The right frequency will be different in different organisations and with different levels of staff, but make sure that you don’t leave too long between reviews.
Regular reviews mean that issues are aired while they are still relatively minor and avoids them building up for too long.
Allow plenty of time for performance reviews. You don’t know what someone will want to raise. If they raise a difficult topic the last thing you want to do is to have to cut the discussion short.
Allocating an hour shows that this is something you take seriously and gives plenty of time for discussion. Many managers will allocate 90 minutes just to be sure.
Your organisation will probably have review forms. Complete these early and send them to the team member in question comfortably in advance.
It’s not fair to ‘ambush’ them with a completed document at the last minute or in the review itself.
Let them have time to review the document and you’ll have a much more constructive conversation.
A performance review is important enough to have its own meeting. Don’t try to combine performance reviews with other meetings.
Many people make the mistake of combining performance and compensation reviews. If at all possible avoid this.
You need to watch your language during a performance review. The team member will be listening carefully and analysing it so speak clearly and deliberately (see this article for examples of good phrases to use in a performance review).
Vague comments and reviews of someone’s performance don’t work, especially when criticising. You need to give clear specific examples to back up your points.
For example, if you were receiving a poor review which of these two phrases would you rather hear.
‘Your reports aren’t good enough’ OR
‘Your last 3 reports have contained an unacceptable number of spelling errors and the layout has not made it easy for me to follow.’
Clearly the second.
It makes clear the issues that you need to address and that the criticism has a real basis in fact. It also allows you to refute the criticism if you feel it is unwarranted as you can discuss the specific points raised.
The first comment leaves you completely unclear what aspect of the reports wasn’t good enough.
Memories are fickle things. In order to give the type of clear specific feedback we mentioned above, you will need to start keeping notes.
Although you may think that you’ll remember things in the moment, you’ll probably find when you come to write a performance review later that you won’t.
You’ll have a number of them to write and remembering good examples of the type of behaviour that you want to discuss will prove to be very difficult.
Keeping notes also avoids having a bias to their most recent performance as that is where you can most clearly recall examples for discussion.
At the end of the meeting, it’s critical that both participants agree on an action plan and that a note of the meeting is then produced to formalise this along with a record of what was discussed.
This gives you both a permanent record of what was discussed and agreed.
It also gives you somewhere to start when discussing performance next with that particular team member.
A behaviour is something that someone does. A result is something that some causes to happen.
Both of these are good things to discuss and evaluate as they are observable and / or measurable and they are under the team member’s control.
On the other hand, a trait is something internal to the person and almost impossible to evaluate in a fair and clear way. Examples include motiviation, conscientiousness, leadership etc.
These are all things that you will probably want to discuss but it is much better to do so at the level of specific behaviours. A trait if too vague and nebulous a concept.
If you want to discuss conscientiousness with someone, it is much better to discuss it at the level of behaviours and outcomes that demonstrate their conscientiousness ( for example, timekeeping, record keeping etc) rather than discussing conscientiousness as a whole.
Inevitably you will spend the majority of your time discussing the past.
However, as we said above you need to think and act like a coach, not an evaluator.
In that role, you would be discussing the past so that you can discuss how the lessons and points that come from that discussion can be applied to the person’s career and personal development in the future.
Where and how can they improve in the future? What can you do to help facilitate these development goals?
So make sure that you also spend some time discussing future plans for the team member’s personal development. As ever try to make these SMART (see the Establishing Goals section of this article for more details on SMART objective setting)
A performance review isn’t just a chance for you to give your opinions and to evaluate your performance.
The best performance reviews are an open, honest discussion of how things have gone, what has gone well, what has gone poorly and how things can be improved for the future.
You need to get your team member talking and to open up. If not you’ll never get to the bottom of any issues and problems that they’re having.
Asking them to review their own performance can be a good way to get them talking early in the review. Many people also find that this can be quite revealing.
It is often the case that your best performers will rate themselves more poorly than you do. They’ll be focused on where they can improve and the mistakes that they’ve made. This leads naturally to a discussion of where they can improve and how you can help assist with that. It also leads to a positive discussion about the difference between your view and theirs.
Conversely, your poor performers will rate themselves more highly than you do. This then provides a natural opening to discuss the gap between your view and theirs.
Now that you have a team to manage it might be time to enrol on our London based course for new Line Managers!
As a new manager you need to ensure that you are building a relationship with your team members and staying current with how they’re getting on. Without understanding how your team is doing and feeling you can’t manage them and you certainly won’t be able to influence their behaviour as you would ultimately hope to be able to.
As ever, to get the most out of a one to one check-in meeting, or catch up as some people call them, you need to spend a little time thinking and planning for it.
This article is going to walk you through the different stages of running a one-to-one meeting so that you can get off to the best start.
Although this looks time-consuming, and it probably will be to start with, before too long it will become second nature and just take you 10-15 minutes.
Many of the line management skills that you’ll need to master will feel like this.
Before you start having team one-to-ones it is advisable to let people know what you are expecting. This will hopefully mean that they will come to the meetings prepared.
At this early stage it can feel difficult to take the initiative like this, especially if you have been promoted from within the team, but calling a meeting without letting people know it’s purpose will just cause confusion. If you are struggling to feel confident doing this it is likely that you are suffering Imposter syndrome as many people do.
It is useful to explain:
‘This is to talk about whatever is highest on your agenda. It could be a big project you’re working on, equally it could be an issue with a fellow team member or your development plan. It’s up to you, it’s your time during which we can talk about whatever is most important to you.
‘I’d like to have a check-in each month. Let’s try and find a regular day to do it and stick to it as much as we can. I’ll set aside an hour each month to make sure that we have plenty of time. It doesn’t need to take an hour if we don’t need it but the time will be there in case we do.’
Remind yourself that the focus of this meeting is your team member. This is their time to raise whatever issues they would like to discuss.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t have some items that you’d like to discuss. It just means that its primary purpose is to understand how they are getting on and feel about work. You should only raise your items once they have had plenty of time to cover everything that they’d like to cover unless your items come up naturally during the conversation.
Since the team member is the focus of the meeting they should be doing the majority of the speaking. If you are speaking more than 20% of the time you’re talking too much.
As per the above, you need to follow through and schedule the meetings for an hour.
This tells your team member that they are important and so you are making a significant chunk of time for them. It also means that they won’t worry about bringing up difficult topics.
Allocating a limited amount of time will encourage them to only bring up straightforward issues. They will be concerned that if they start discussing a difficult issue the conversation will get cut short.
If you really do have to cancel the meeting make sure to reschedule it the same day. Again, this is about showing the employee that this is a priority for you.
Some people don’t like agendas and feel that they constrict the conversation.
In general, we believe that agendas are useful checklists. We wouldn’t advocate for detailed agendas so much as a list of key areas to tick off as you work through them.
It means that if the conversation is short you can still be confident that you covered all of the key areas, and if it gets cut short it because it runs long you know what you didn’t cover.
Perhaps try both and see what works best for you.
The meetings should be relaxed and informal. Try to find a relaxed informal environment to match.
Your office will work fine if it provides privacy but much better to use a canteen if you have one, or local cafe.
Getting out of your office will mean that you are much more likely to be free from interruptions.
As mentioned earlier if you are speaking more than 20% of the time you’re probably doing something wrong.
If you want to guide the conversation in a certain direction, or find that it is flagging, ask open-ended questions to get your team member talking about the area you would like to learn more about.
If you struggle with questions this article has a very useful list.
Below we talk about the need to take 5 minutes to make notes of your meetings and the action items that are agreed upon during them.
It is good practice to review the notes at the start of the next meeting and see how they have progressed. If they should have been completed but haven’t, discuss why not and what can be done to ‘unblock’ them.
This will also help to give your meetings a sense of progress and purpose. You need to avoid one to one’s that end up feeling like a chore where the same stale ground is covered each month. This will lead your team to disengage from the process and make it a waste of everyone’s time.
As we mentioned earlier we believe in having a high-level agenda for a one-to-one. It doesn’t constrain the conversation but helps guide it and ensure things don’t get missed.
Below we have listed the areas that we believe should be covered in all one-to-ones and also included the types of questions that you should think about using to get your team member to open up:
1. Individual feeling about work
This covers their motivation and enthusiasm for work
‘How are you finding your work?’
‘What parts of your role do you find most & least energising and enjoyable?’
‘What do you find most motivating?’
2. Individual projects and progress
This covers their key current projects and ones that are on the short-term horizon.
‘Is there anything that’s blocking your progress?’
‘Is there anything I could do to make things easier for you?’
‘Do you have all of the right equipment and support to complete these projects?’
‘What projects would you like to most work on next?’.
3. Individual personal development
This is looking at their career from a longer-term perspective.
‘Do you find your role challenging?’
‘Is there anyone on the team that you would like more time with to help you learn?’
‘Have you reviewed your development plan recently, are you on track with it?’
‘Is there any training or coaching that you would find useful?’.
4. Team spirit and happiness at work
This is trying to understand how they feel about the team and also how they think that the team currently feels about work
‘How do you feel the team is working together at the moment?’
‘Who do you find easiest to work with?’
‘How do you think that the team could work better?’
‘Is there anyone you find tricky to deal with in the team?’
5. Manager capability
This is actively soliciting feedback on how you are performing.
‘Is there anything I could do to make your work easier and simpler?’
‘Is there anything where you would like more involvement and support from me?’
‘Do you find my management style helpful?’
Although this can be difficult it is a really great way to build rapport with your team. The fact that you’re open to criticism and looking to improve will show that you’re eager to improve and open
To really understand what you are being told you’ll need to listen closely and actively participate in the conversation to encourage your team members.
Classic active listening techniques that work really well if they are not overused include:
By showing respect for your team’s needs and opinions you will also help to build a stronger relationship with your team.
At the end of the meeting, you should wrap up by reviewing the key points that were raised, any decisions that were made and the key action points.
It is critical that after the meeting you take 5 minutes to review and make notes of the conversation and action points. You must then make sure that the action points are covered off before the next meeting.
This then gives you a record of your conversations for the future and also gives you an action list to focus on before the next one-to-one.
You’ve finally got that promotion and are about to become a manager.
Inevitably, you start thinking a lot about what makes a good boss and how you will run your team as a new manager.
A key thing to remember is: ‘Your first day matters.’
That doesn’t mean that if it doesn’t go well you’re doomed. It just means that your first day, in particular, and your first few weeks are when your people are looking at you most intently to try to understand what kind of leader you will be.
Will you be open, straightforward and respectful, as they hope? Or will you be political and unsupportive?
Why not plan for, and take advantage of, this window by going out of your way to set their expectations clearly?
Although the temptation may be to ‘settle into’ your role and take your time, this would be wasting this valuable time.
Becoming a manager requires a big perspective shift. Up to this point in your career, your success has been a result of your work. From now on your success is going to be a result of your team’s work.
Making sure that your team is working smoothly and focused on the right goals is the work of a career. Given that line management requires you to master a number of new skills many people look for training around the time that they step up to a management role to try to make the career transition to manager go as smoothly as possible.
The work of your first few weeks in a role is to ensure that you start to get to know your team, that they start to get to know you and that you establish clear, open lines of communication.
If you can do that you are off to a great start as a new manager.
Which begs the question: How do I do all that?!
We’ve put together this expert survival guide for new managers. Read on for fourthings to do first.
If you can, schedule a meeting with your new team on your first day, or at least within your first week. Plan this carefully but resist the temptation to use this meeting to drill into your vision for the year ahead, or streamline operations; instead, make it all about your team, try and use some storytelling skills.
This first meeting should reflect the working environment you’re aiming for. It should establish your intentions, especially when it comes to team culture and getting people to work together effectively. Share why you’re excited to work with this team — and make it clear that your key focus is to provide help and support.
Take the opportunity to address any changes in relationships here as well. Being transparent will encourage trust right from the start.
For example, if you’ve been promoted to manage a team that you were previously a part of, you can make it clear that you are available to talk through any issues this hierarchy shift might bring up for people.
Make it clear that you’re interested in every person on your team, at every level.
You might not have time to meet everyone one-to-one straight away, but put those coffee meetings in the diary — even if it means scheduling weeks in advance. People will understand that you’re valued but see that they are a priority because you’re scheduling the meetings.
Then use those meetings to get to know the unique qualities of each team member.
According to the Harvard Business Review, there are three things you must know about someone in order to manage them well: their strengths, how to trigger those strengths, and their learning style.
Personal insight and positive relationships with the people you manage will enable you to get the most from your team. You’ll be able to create space for everyone to contribute confidently and do their best work.
Be sure to be in listening mode when you have these meetings. They are all about getting to know your team. They are not about you selling your vision for the team.
Getting really clear on the team culture you want to cultivate and communicating that to your team is very powerful if you then uphold that culture.
The company’s broader values will feed into this, but becoming a manager gives you a powerful opportunity to set the culture of your team.
How do you want the working environment to feel for your team? Write it all out and then be sure that your behaviour is aligned with it.
Be an example of the culture that you want to create.
If you want transparency? Be transparent.
If you want team members to trust each other? Be trustworthy.
If you want to eradicate gossip? Don’t gossip.
Your new role is all about your team but managing them is up to you. You need to remember to build your skills as you settle into your new role.
Many people report their first management role as the most stressful career transition that they made.
Accept up front that it is going to be difficult and that you will make mistakes as you have much to learn.
Also, remember that it is a career transition that has been made by millions before you.
Although it’s not easy, management is something many others in your organization have learned before you. They have been through the same transition.
Try to make sure that you don’t make this transition unsupported by finding a mentor to advise you.
Seek out senior figures who have made this transition before and start building relationships.
It doesn’t really matter whether they work for the same firm as you, or in a completely different walk of life, so long as they have good experience of managing people.
They will support you through tough times and encourage you to stretch yourself more when things are going well.
Being assertive means being confident and self-assured while being respectful of others.
It is a great trait. It means that you are direct when communicating your wants and needs. Voicing your thoughts and opinions without being aggressive or overbearing will make sure that you are heard and still be viewed as a team player.
If you find that you struggle with being assertive below we’ve laid out three ‘starter’ behaviours to get you started.
As with many things in life, once you get started and see the benefits you’ll probably find that being assertive becomes increasingly easy and natural. It’s getting started that is the most difficult bit.
‘No’ is a powerful and direct word.
Often people that are shy or passive find it difficult to say ‘No’ to a request and end up feeling put upon and stressed as they reluctantly take on another task.
If you find the thought of saying ‘No’ to someone think about other less direct ways to communicate the same thing.
Ultimately hopefully you’ll have the confidence to start saying ‘No’ but don’t try to run before you can walk.
This strategy is really about winning you time. By saying this you allow yourself time to think about things and respond at a time and in a way of your choosing.
If your default in the moment is to feel nervous and say ‘Yes’ this is a great one. You’re not saying ‘No’ all you are doing is winning yourself the time to reflect calmly.
If you decide that you’d like to say ‘No’ you can then plan how you will do that.
This answer avoids being a direct ‘No’ but in effect is one.
By saying that their request will have to wait until you have cleared your other projects you’re protecting your time and priorities.
If the person is happy to wait then that’s great it takes the pressure off you. If they aren’t happy to wait then they will find someone else.
Either outcome is a good outcome and you haven’t had to say ‘No’ only that they will need to wait.
This is another way of avoiding saying ‘No’.
If someone requests something that you can’t do then you can offer to help with the part of the task that you’re best suited to.
Obviously, by implication, you’re saying ‘No’ but you’re also responding helpfully. It means that you can cherry-pick the part of the task that you will be responsible for.
If they’re looking for someone to take on the whole task they’ll need to find someone to complete the task but that’s now not on your shoulders.
Assertiveness is a trait of confident people.
Assertive people believe that their needs and wants are just as important (no more or less) as those of other people. They are happy to speak about their and other people’s wants in a relaxed fashion without seeing it as a threat or a big issue. To them, it is simply an ordinary conversation.
Being assertive is a big advantage in the workplace. Assertive people are viewed as easy to work with, and for, as good communicators and as competent.
People like them because of the clarity and openness that comes from speaking with them. They feel that they know where they stand.
Even if you disagree with someone on a subject, if they are assertive they will be able to discuss the subject calmly and clearly and not let it cloud the relationship more generally. Assertive people find difficult conversations relatively easy.
They also feel that assertive people are very competent as they are confident about stating what they need.
Given all of the advantages lets take a look at 3 ways to get started by looking at 3 ways of saying no to a request.
It is worth repeating that assertive people are actually viewed as more competent than passive people.
The great fear behind many people’s struggle to say ‘No’ is that they worry that people won’t like or respect them if they say ‘No’.
Ironically this lack of confidence leads to exactly what they fear, people viewing them less positively. People come away from someone saying a calm and respectful ‘No’ with a more positive view of the person denying the request.
The above a just simple start on your road to becoming more assertive.
With practice, it will become much easier and more instinctive but while you are building the habit you should start small and build up.
HBR: People Who Seem Confident Are Viewed As More Compentent
High-Performance Lifestyle: How To Say No
Positive Psychology: The Quick Guide to Assertiveness: Become Direct, Firm and Positive
Manuel J. Smith: When I say no, I feel Guilty: How to Cope – using the Skills of Systematic Assertive Therapy
Claude Steiner: The Other Side of Power
While being assertive is seen as a strong trait in a line manager, there are other skills you’ll need to work on to find a balance.
To be a successful manager you will need to be able to lead your team confidently and assertively.
Being confident and assertive is something that comes with experience but you can get ahead of the game by taking an assertiveness training course ensuring you know the best techniques to use in given situations.
Empathy is a significant trait that will show your new team that you care about their ideas. By listening to them you will gain their trust and create a positive working environment.
But it is not just your team that needs you to be assertive, sometimes you will need to report up to senior managers.
In this case, being assertive doesn’t stop at listening but being listened to as well.
To make yourself heard you’ll benefit from learning some techniques in how to be assertive and how to do it positively.
Being assertive may come naturally to you, or it may take time while you’re still finding your feet as a manager.
There are some techniques that will help you start to build your assertiveness and become more confident in your own decision making:
Choosing your words wisely is only the start.
When learning to communicate in an assertive fashion, be mindful of the language you use, face to face and electronically.
Be professional and clear about your expectations.
Your posture says a lot about you and what kind of message you are conveying.
Signify your point with gestures where needed and make eye contact with the person you’re talking to. They will feel confident in you and what you are saying.
Assertiveness doesn’t mean that you know all of the answers. It does mean that you have the confidence to talk about and ask questions on the subject where you don’t have much knowledge.
It also means that you have the confidence to not hide from topics you don’t understand so you do and do your research so that you know the right questions to ask.
Even though you may know a subject inside and out, there may be other people who can contribute and have new or different viewpoints.
Allowing someone to share their viewpoint shows you value their viewpoint and are interested in their opinions.
If you only focus on how assertive you want to be, you can easily forget the other skills that helped you get to your new position.
Being assertive doesn’t mean pushing your ideas for the sake of it, or just because you can.
It can come across as bossy and dismissive if you don’t communicate your intentions well.
With your new team in mind, there will be opportunities to delegate tasks, set goals and monitor performance.
Read these tips on how to make sure you represent yourself as a confident leader and not a bossy one.
To avoid coming across as aggressive it is important not to be defensive.
By focussing on the end goal while being open to ideas, people will be more likely to contribute. Your likability is what will win your team over, rather than aggression.
A lot of the time, your job as a manager will be to make decisions and have the final sign off on tasks.
But it is important not to dismiss ideas from others just because you can.
Equally, this doesn’t mean saying “Yes” to everyone.
You need to say ‘No’ in the right way so that your team knows that you value their opinion and encourage them to come to you with other ideas in the future. This means taking the time to listen to their idea and asking some questions to be sure that you really understand what it is and why they think it is a good idea before saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
Most of the time when we listen, we are already thinking of a response before the other person has finished talking. Without jumping in, let them share their ideas and show assertiveness by concentrating the ones you like and offering an action plan.
Being assertive means being confident in your decisions. It is possible to demonstrate authority and confidence without coming across as bossy. Indeed, in showing that you are open to new ideas you are actually demonstrating that you are secure and confident in. your position.
Being a new manager, you will find your days are full of new challenges.
But how do you make sure this positivity stays by the time the excitement wears off?
It isn’t uncommon for managers to start to feel the strains associated with leading teams and having results-driven tasks and when they do they begin to feel less positive and become less patient.
By defining your positive assertiveness at an early stage, you set the tone for an ongoing positive work environment.
Confidence is the number one challenge you will face in being an assertive manager. Too much can come across as pushy, too little can come across as passive.
Think of this as an example:
You have delegated a task to a senior member of your team and the deadline is approaching.
Not wanting to confront the team member as they appear to be under a lot of pressure, you avoid asking how it is going.
If they then come to you at the last minute saying that they won’t hit the deadline you either agree to the extension with questioning it and why they are late or respond passive-aggressively by ignoring them for the next few days.
You chase them up repeatedly to emphasise that the deadline is approaching and that they have had plenty of time to complete the task or ask for help or an extension.
You see they are under pressure, but you are too, and the job needs doing, so no excuses despite leaving them somewhat bruised by these encounters.
In setting the task, you were clear in your communication and anticipated potential hurdles.
You have checked in periodically and can see before the deadline that they are struggling.
Before the deadline, you have a quick chat to remind them that the deadline is important and also to see if there is any help that you can offer to help them to hit the deadline.
Being assertive and having the confidence to speak up doesn’t mean you have to push people to their limits.
In growing your own confidence, maintain positive relationships and make sure your team knows they can come to you for help.
When it comes to deadlines, show positive assertiveness by driving the end goal forward as a team and staying focused on the end goals.
One of the biggest shocks that new line managers face is the amount of HR the role involves.
In this article, we’ll explore how and why line managers work with HR as part of their role.
HR is responsible for all aspects of people management throughout an organisation.
It has responsibility for:
For full details see this article: 10 Things HR Departments Do To Help Their Employees Succeed
A line manager has direct responsibility for everyone in their team. Our article – What Is A Line Manager? – covers this in more detail.
This part of the role of a line manager is often the steepest learning curve for new line managers.
They will be involved whenever HR gets involved with one of their team. This could be an individual-specific issue, or when HR are rolling out a new policy or procedure, that needs communicating to everyone in the business.
Line managers know their team better than anyone else and so are best placed to work with HR to reach the best outcome.
Knowing this effective line managers build good relationships with their HR department.
They know that they will need to work closely with HR day-to-day across a number of areas. In addition, they know that if they have issues with an employee, HR will be able to offer valuable help and advice in sorting the problem out.
Let’s take a closer look at the areas where HR and line managers overlap.
Line managers are responsible for their team’s performance.
Consequently, they are ideally positioned to identify any skill gaps that an individual on their team might have.
If they identify a significant skill gap, the line manager will need to work with HR to resolve it.
Filling the skill gap may require sending them on a course or a structured mentoring programme. Either way working with your HR department is likely to achieve the best result.
A company’s appraisal process will be established by HR. However, it is implemented by line managers – see this guide to running performance reviews for more details.
Line managers are best placed to carry out performance reviews because they have the closest working relationship with their team members.
They can offer the most insightful comments on performance and attitude and ensure that the appraisal is as fair and detailed as possible.
Once an appraisal is completed, it will need to be registered with HR. If any issues are identified, then the line manager may work with HR to resolve them.
Line managers take an active part in interviewing new hires for their team, as they will manage the new hire day-to-day once hired.
Usually, HR is responsible for producing job specifications, running job adverts and carrying out an initial screen of applicants.
However, once HR has built a list of potential candidates, they will then work with line managers to interview candidates and choose someone for the role.
While no-one is perfect obviously in order for a manager to decide who their prefered candidate is they will need to have a list of the qualities that they look for in all of their team members.
Line managers work hand in hand with HR where salary is involved.
One of the annual appraisal process outputs will be recommendations regarding an individual’s pay and whether they should receive a pay rise.
As HR is responsible for managing a company’s salary structure and payroll, this obviously has to be done in conjunction with them.
Line managers act as the liaison between the company and the employee.
They are often used to relay information – good or bad – to their teams.
If the information is HR related, line managers will work with HR to ensure that announcements are handled appropriately and carried out at the right time.
If a team member has issues with the announcement, their line manager will be responsible for liaising with HR to address the problems.
Line managers are responsible for ensuring the well-being of their team.
This responsibility ranges from small tasks like rearranging an employee’s workload if they are struggling, to more important tasks like ensuring that employees have the appropriate safety equipment.
If an employee has a severe well-being issue (for example suffering from stress caused by an excessive workload), then the matter would need to be reported to HR so that you can find a combined solution.
The ability to listen clearly to team members to understand what is going on is another skill that new line managers need to learn – see this article on listening skills for line managers for more details.
Being a line manager means working closely with your HR department. As we’ve seen, the roles overlap in a number of areas.
However, as a line manager, you need to make sure you don’t overstep the mark and start taking on tasks your HR department is responsible for.
Let’s look at a couple of the areas where you could get yourself in trouble as a line manager.
Line managers are responsible for implementing policies and procedures. They do not create policies and procedures.
Companies are hierarchical.
Line managers are responsible for implementing the corporate guidelines and policies they are given by HR. They should not be creating policies and procedures.
The Human Resources department is staffed by professionals who specialise in employment administration and legislation.
They will have an overarching human capital strategy for the business. The procedures and policies will fit within that strategy.
If you start creating procedures without a complete understanding of that strategy, you will cause all sorts of legal and practical problems.
Line managers play an important role in the recruitment process for new employees, as we’ve seen.
Employment contracts require specialist knowledge of employment law. This knowledge will reside in your HR department, and this is why they are responsible for creating new employment contracts.
Of course, if you will manage the individual concerned, you should have input into the contract, but the responsibility for creating the contract should be left to your HR department.
HR professionals and line managers need to work together to get the best out of employees and meet their company’s goals.
As a line manager, you need to understand where your responsibilities stop, and HR’s responsibilities start.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand where that line is.
If you have a concern, the best thing you can do is take some time to develop a good relationship with your HR department.
That way, if you’re not sure, you can easily pick up the phone to them.
Line managers play an essential role in the efficient running of all businesses.
They provide guidance and motivation to staff and ensure that the company operates smoothly.
For anyone with ambitions to work their way up to the senior levels of management, it is a crucial step.
The role allows you to show your leadership skills and gives you direct exposure to senior management.
This article explains everything you need to lean about Line management and provides a few tips to make sure that your application is as strong as possible.
Put simply, line management is an employment structure in which someone has direct responsibility for an employee or group of employees.
Usually, a line manager will, in turn, report to their superior, giving the organisation a clear chain of command.
An effective line manager operates as the link between the decision-makers at the top of the company and front-line workers.
A large part of their job is to ensure that the company’s objectives are communicated to front line staff while communicating any staff issues back up the chain of command.
For a fuller explanation see our article: What Is A Line Manager?
Before you apply for a line management position, you should take the time to understand exactly what it involves.
Line management comes with a wide variety of responsibilities. This is both the appeal and the challenge of the role.
Being promoted to line manager isn’t as simple as being highly competent in your current job – the role requires a new set of skills.
You should set aside some time to think through your strengths and weaknesses before applying for a role.
We look at what the role requires in more detail below.
The biggest change people find when stepping into a line management role is that they are no longer responsible for their own success.
A line manager’s success depends on their team performing well.
This means that communicating clearly and confidently with your team is key.
If you have shown – both to yourself and to your superiors – that you can communicate clearly and confidently with colleagues and gain their trust, then you probably are ready to be promoted to line manager.
Line managers have a number of responsibilities that front-line work does not. Many people find the transition to line manager the most challenging of their career.
As a line manager, you are likely to have the following duties:
You will have oversight of the daily operation of your team, both as a collective and as individuals.
Maintaining your team’s productivity is your primary responsibility.
That starts with ensuring you are on top of all of your team’s performance data so that you can see who is meeting expectations and who is not.
The amount of interaction with the HR department is often one of the largest surprises to new line managers.
Line managers set the goals for the company’s employees and communicate what’s expected of them.
You will need to provide clear, attainable targets for your team and then help them to achieve them.
This may involve using your expertise to educate a new member of staff or encouraging a less confident employee that they are competent and valued.
Each employee is different, and you will need strong interpersonal skills to understand how to get the best out of each member of your team.
See this article for more detail on delegation and objective setting
Line managers are responsible for the coaching and career development of their team members.
They need to monitor staff development needs and pro-actively work with staff members to address them.
This could be mentoring, internal or external training.
Staff who feel that they are learning and growing tend to be highly engaged, so this is a great way to develop individual morale.
Line managers are in charge of delegating workloads, and it is important that tasks are distributed fairly.
An overworked team member is likely to feel stressed and unhappy, which could affect team morale – a good line manager will oversee workloads to ensure that nobody has an unreasonable volume of work and reallocate work where appropriate.
As a line manager, you will be expected to oversee the drawing up of rotas that are fair and meet the needs of your team and the business.
A happy team is a productive team. As a line manager, it will be your responsibility to look after your staff’s wellbeing.
This may be anything from noticing an increase in absence to recognising a change in someone’s behaviour.
Your duty is to spot the signs that an employee is struggling and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.
Inevitably when you have a group of human beings working together at some point you will get conflict. Learning to manage conflict within your team is another crucial skill that you will need to develop.
Line managers bridge the gap between their team and human resources.
Day-to-day HR issues are dealt with by line managers supported by HR.
For example, if HR initiates a new policy, it will be your duty as line manager to ensure your employees understand it and act upon it.
As a line manager, you will have a long and varied list of duties, and you’ll need to build up the skills to match them:
Your success as a line manager is likely to hinge on your ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
Whether you’re providing a sympathetic ear or undertaking formal performance reviews, as a line manager, you will need to be able to interact with your team members in a variety of ways.
Every day as a line manager is likely to present new challenges, big and small. You will need to master communicating clearly.
Strong leadership is essential in a line management role, and you will need to gain the trust and respect of your team to ensure they follow your example.
A good line manager must be decisive and strong-willed. If you believe that your methods are best for business, it’s key that you show authority in your decision-making and trust your judgement.
Your employees will look to you for instruction, so you will need to show a willingness to be proactive. A good leader can anticipate potential problems, plan ahead and think creatively about ways to improve the business.
The era of managers being cold and unapproachable is long gone; in the modern world, your staff will look to you for support when they are struggling.
An ability to show empathy is important to ensure that your team is happy and productive at work. Knowing that their line manager cares about their wellbeing makes employees feel valued, which improves morale and performance.
As we have seen, a line manager role comes with a host of daily responsibilities. The ability to organise yourself and your work is vital.
You will need to be able to prioritise and delegate work.
Effective delegation will save you time and also offer your team the chance to develop their skills and build their confidence.
Once you have decided that you wish to apply for a line manager position, you will need to make your application as attractive as possible.
This starts with your covering letter – a short note attached to your CV that emphasises your suitability for the specific role you are applying for.
A good covering letter needs to catch the attention of your prospective employer and help you stand out from the other applicants.
Whereas your CV provides a factual account of your education and career history, your covering letter is an opportunity to let them know who you are and highlight your key strengths.
A cover letter is more personal than a CV and allows you to highlight the reasons they should ask you for an interview.
A covering letter should emphasise why you would make a good addition to their team and your reasons for applying.
The key to a good covering letter is brevity. Your letter should be no longer than one page in length but needs to provide as much detail as possible that shows you in a positive light.
Address your covering letter to the hiring manager and show that you have researched the company and the role.
Pick a couple of the strongest points about your skills and motivation and very briefly highlight them.
The aim of this is to ensure that you make the first cut. A good covering letter will never get you the job, but a bad one will make ensure that you don’t get it.
The video below possibly takes brevity too far but offers some really great tips.
While your covering letter allows prospective employers to learn about you as a person, your CV is a more objective summary of your life.
It should summarise your personal details, your academic achievements and, most importantly, your career history.
The first thing to consider is presentation. A poorly designed CV puts you at a disadvantage before it’s even been read. Make sure your CV looks professional.
Put your personal information at the top of your CV.
This acts as an introduction to your application and makes it easy for your employer to find your contact details.
Next, you should provide a brief personal statement. This should explain who you are and why you are right for the position.
This paragraph acts as a condensed version of your covering letter, so make every word count.
You will also need to provide a detailed history of the jobs you have held, starting with the most recent.
You should include the name of the company you worked for, your position, the start and end dates of each role and your responsibilities.
Make sure that you emphasise the areas in which you excelled in each role. Where possible, use facts and figures to back up your claims.
Saying ‘Increased sales by 57% over 12 months” is far more impactful than “Increased sales in first 12 months”.
If there are any gaps in your employment history, acknowledge and explain them as best you can.
It is also important to include brief details of your education. Again do this in reverse chronological order, so start with the most recent academic achievement.
Remember to keep your CV short. It should be no more than two sides of A4.
As we have seen, line management roles require a wide array of skills.
If you are passionate about your line of work and want to progress up the career ladder, then the first step is a line manager position.
Hopefully, you now know what is required and how to go about finding a role – good luck!
While remote working offers proven benefits, the lack of face-to-face interaction makes it more difficult to foster a positive working environment.
Virtual team building provides an effective method of turning a remote team into a cohesive unit that communicates and collaborates effectively.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about virtual team building and offer a few tips on team building activities to help make your business more productive.
Team building describes the ongoing process of increasing your workforce’s efficiency by encouraging employees to communicate and co-operate with one another.
Placing a group of employees in a situation where they must work as a team allows them to bond to pursue a common goal. Building strong relationships between team members helps create a positive working environment.
There are numerous established team-building methods, from specifically designed activities and events to informal get-togethers where employees can learn more about each other.
Each activity offers a proven route towards a happier, more motivated and more productive virtual team while encouraging employees’ professional development.
A harmonious work environment is vital to running a successful company, with a recent study showing a direct link between employee happiness and productivity. With that in mind, a manager must do everything they can to ensure their team is happy at work.
Team building has many benefits. Not only does it lead to improved relationships between employees, but it can also enhance individual skills such as leadership and planning.
Successful team building can also lead to a more motivated workforce – and it is easy to see how a tight-knit, motivated, and highly skilled team will deliver better results for your company.
By encouraging your employees to communicate effectively, develop trust in one another and work together as a team, you will foster a positive atmosphere that should increase your company’s productivity. These are all things that are all big challenges in a virtual world.
A particular challenge is integrating new people into a team. Icebreakers are a great way to introduce them and start the process. However, you will need to think of other ways to build on this and help them develop meaningful relationships with other team members.
To summarise, team building offers several critical advantages to your company:
Historically, the concept of team building has focused on face-to-face communication, building relationships through social interaction either within the workplace or at an outdoor event.
The recent increase in remote working means team building is more important than ever, but managing a virtual team provides a unique challenge. After all, how can your team bond effectively if employees are rarely in the same room?
Virtual team building operates entirely online, using remote team building activities to improve your employees’ communication skills and encourage greater teamwork. These events can be anything from structured activities to develop skills to casual chats over video conferencing software.
Through the implementation of these strategies, employers can ensure that team morale stays high. This, in turn, will lead to a more efficient and successful business.
Having established what virtual team building events can offer and why they are important, you should consider what type of activity would suit your business.
There are many virtual team building activities available, each with its own unique set of benefits.
Here are a few popular options that you may wish to consider:
The after-work social on a Friday night has long been considered a team-building staple, but it isn’t for everyone. Prior engagements, childcare responsibilities or even the onset of a worldwide pandemic can make an evening in the pub impossible.
A virtual team social provides a more convenient opportunity to socialise with workmates away from the stresses of the job, allowing colleagues to get to know each other better.
Whether colleagues enjoy the fun, competitive atmosphere provided by virtual team building games or just want to meet for a casual chat, virtual team events offer an easy way for employees to bond and build team morale.
The remote host invites employees to a virtual room where they can interact via video (or audio if they prefer), helping to foster a positive, collaborative environment.
One of the most popular in-person team-building exercises is the escape room. In an escape room, you solve a series of clues to unlock the door of the room in which you’re trapped.
Escape rooms require problem-solving skills, communication and teamwork, making them an ideal option for team building – and they translate to the virtual world seamlessly.
Virtual escape rooms take place through video conferencing. They split your employees into competing teams and introduce them to a fictional setting that they must ‘escape’ from.
Teams must complete their escape as quickly as possible, with puzzles designed to encourage cooperation between players in a fun but challenging way.
By working as a team focused on a shared goal, players develop interpersonal skills that transfer to the workplace.
One good way to build morale and help employees understand each other better is to set up a virtual club.
Book clubs have always proven popular, but virtual clubs can just as easily be based around movies or even television programmes – the key is finding a subject that everyone is interested in discussing.
Discussion of shared interests is an effective way of increasing trust and rapport between colleagues. It can also help to boost team morale by allowing people to engage with their passions in a social setting and learn more about their colleagues.
Any activity that encourages team members to collaborate will offer spillover benefits during work. You will find that people will naturally become more collaborative at work as well.
Hosting a quiz as part of a virtual team social is a particularly effective way of encouraging collaboration between colleagues while also providing a fun setting that will boost morale.
While in-person quizzes can be great fun, some people find the competitive element intimidating, particularly when prizes are available.
A virtual quiz’s more relaxed environment can help bring quieter staff members out of their shell.
You can even create bespoke quizzes based on people’s interests, helping everyone feel like they are part of the team.
Murder mysteries provide an excellent platform for team building. They allow colleagues to interact socially and do so in a fun, competitive context that encourages teamwork and lateral thinking.
Virtual murder mysteries work in a similar way to their real-world equivalents.
The remote host sets the scene, explaining that a murder has taken place and providing you with a series of clues.
While working in teams, employees are encouraged to collaborate and discuss their thoughts to solve the case.
Virtual team games of this type have been shown to improve communication and inspire greater creativity in employees, leading to a more efficient, productive business.
Keeping your team happy and motivated is essential to running a successful business, and, as we have seen, team-building exercises have a proven positive effect on office morale.
Remote working poses a challenge to your business, but it also brings new opportunities. The flexibility it provides allows everyone in your team to engage with virtual team building activities – you just need to find the right one that suits your team’s needs.
With such a wide range of virtual team events, games, and activities at your fingertips, the opportunity to increase your team’s motivation, morale, and cohesion is at your fingertips.
Image Credit: Pexels
“Journaling is paying attention to the inside for the purpose of living well from the inside out.” Lee Wise
Journalling is writing about your feelings, thoughts, and emotions in a journal.
The is good evidence that doing so regularly reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Writing a journal is a great way to develop resilience.
In a work context people usually use one of three different journaling techniques.
This is simply recording what you feel or think.
It does not have any rules or structures.
This type of journalling shows the flow of thoughts and focuses on expressive writing.
When doing this type of journaling, do not worry about spelling, syntax, grammar, or punctuation just let the thoughts flow..
Prompt journaling involves using a set list of questions and answers.
Prompt journaling involves answering questions each day (the same or different).
Doing so gets you to place our attention on specific areas of our life.
Specific journaling involves selecting a specific area of concern and just focusing on that for a day.
Many people find this works best with work issues.
They sit down and work on their biggest worry or their biggest project each day to get some more clarity on it.
Journaling and diary-keeping are very similar. The difference is their objective.
A diary is objective and is used mainly to write down events, day-to-day updates, and data collections. It is textual and chronological.
Journaling is a much more subjective and reflective process.
It focuses far less on things that have happened and far more on motions, feelings, and thoughts.
Anne Frank is famous for the journal that she kept as a Jew in hiding during the second world war.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
Serena Williams is a 23-times grand slam champion who has struggled with a number of injuries during her career.
“Writing down your feelings in a journal can help clear out negative thoughts and emotions that keep you feeling stuck.”
Martina Navratilova is arguably the greatest ever women’s tennis player winning 18 Grand Slams during her career.
“Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distil what’s important and what’s not.”
“Journaling helps you to see and appreciate how strong you are within.” Jeremiah Say
Journaling can offer a number of direct benefits at work.
Many people consider journalling to be a form of self-administered therapy.
Journaling can make you more productive.
It is a great way to sort what is important from what is unimportant, the key first step in using the 80:20 principle.
Journaling is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
Multiple studies how shown this in multiple contexts.
Two quick examples are:
A study by Northumbria University found that journaling focused on positive experiences had a strong impact on reducing stress and anxiety.
This study from Michigan University demonstrated that students using journaling reduced their levels of anxiety markedly.
A wide range of studies has linked journaling to improvements in a wide range of improvements in physical health.
This study found that injuries healed faster in people who journaled about their issues rather than their daily schedule. The authors speculated that this was attributable to journaling reducing their cortisol levels.
This study on journaling about difficult experiences concluded.
‘writing about earlier traumatic experiences was associated with both short-term increases in physiological arousal and long-term decreases in health problems’
Journaling can improve our relationships, and relationships are key to having influence at work.
The more we reflect, the more we can put things in perspective and forgive others and ourselves.
This study demonstrated that journaling significantly improved the odds that a couple would stay together.
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Oprah Winfrey
There is no required amount of journaling that you need to do to start enjoying its benefits.
The more you do and the more often you do it, the greater the benefits will be, but don’t let that stop you from starting.
Simply do what you can. Whether it’s a lot or a little, it will still benefit you.
Keeping a journal regularly isn’t easy.
Here are some tips to help you build up the habit.
· Find a private place where you can write without any disturbance.
· Fix a time and keep it. Create your moment.
· Be 100% honest when writing your journal. Don’t hide anything.
Journaling is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental health.
We’d suggest that you give it a try for just 5 minutes each day for a week and see how it goes. You’ve nothing to lose.
Try not to judge it before the week is up, but once it’s done, see how you feel.
Is life a little easier? Are you a little less anxious? We’re pretty sure you’ll say yes to both.
Image Credits: Unsplash , Unsplash
Put simply, rapport is people’s ability to relate, be empathetic towards each other’s feelings and communicate well.
We all know people who appear to be completely comfortable striking up new relationships and others who struggle to find areas in common or other ways of building rapport.
For some, this is a gift, but this doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like any other skill that you can improve upon.
So why would you be interested in building rapport in the first place?
Well, when you build rapport, you simultaneously establish trust. You can increase your influence at work and make your colleagues and bosses more receptive to your business ideas.
The higher your levels of rapport at work, the more loyalty you will inspire, and the more enjoyable your job will be for you and everyone else you interact with.
Establishing rapport is particularly important for managers trying to build the motivation of their team. If you trust someone you will naturally want to work hard for them.
Let’s look at eight easy ways to build rapport at work.
You can also attend one of our Line Manager Training Courses here.
Building rapport doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might imagine it to be.
Think of someone you’re trying to build a relationship with. Maybe you both went to the same school or enjoy the same activities.
You can probably find something in common with anyone if you try hard enough.
The problem is that we often don’t take the time to truly listen. Instead, we think about what we want to say next, and we often fail to find that common ground.
Moving on to discussing family life is a fantastic way of taking a strictly business relationship to the next level.
Maybe you have children of the same age, or you both have parents with the same hobbies?
If this is the case, you will be able to empathise with each other’s daily challenges and triumphs both at work and home.
This may be a negative approach, but a shared negative experience often brings people together as it gives them things in common.
Establishing that you have a shared fear or weak point can be even better for building rapport than having something in common that you both like.
We often have passions and goals that we feel we can’t share with other people.
Finding common dreams creates a strong bond.
This is even better if your shared goals are something niche or quirky, like wanting to break a silly world record, discover the meaning of weird words or plans to travel somewhere out of the ordinary.
Research has shown that we respond better when someone acts like us.
Mirroring body language is a powerful psychological tool for bonding with someone.
This doesn’t mean that you need to copy their every move, just look for things like the way they sit and whether they gesture while talking.
Maintain eye contact in a way that seems to make them relax, rather than overdoing it.
We all love to talk about our hobbies, particularly when they are things that not everyone is interested in.
Even if you don’t have exactly the same interests, try and search for common ground that lets you build rapport naturally. You may even end up doing these activities together.
What we eat is another subject that we all love to talk about when connecting with others.
In many cultures, people connect during meals, and food is an important part of socialing.
See if you manage to increase rapport by asking about their favourite recipes and telling them yours.
We all have things that we don’t usually tell people until we develop a lot of trust.
This could be considered oversharing if it’s too soon in the relationship, but it can build rapport once the timing is right.
For example, you can be honest about how you feel really awkward in meetings or how you laugh at things that no one else seems to find funny.
Being vulnerable is a powerful thing, but check the other person’s reaction to see if they can really relate. If they do, that’s great – you’ve built an excellent rapport.
Conversely, there are some things that many people think create rapport when that’s not the case.
Pretending to be interested in the same things as your conversation partner isn’t a good strategy.
If you try to fake interest, they will almost certainly notice this and realise you’re not being honest.
The best thing would be to dig deeper and find something you actually have in common.
Pretending to be awfully excited about their latest adventures when you have no genuine interest in them is something that will be spotted fairly easily.
Again, it all comes down to authenticity. You can’t fake enthusiasm, or you’ll come across as manipulative and disingenuous.
It is better to find a few natural connections that come up in your conversations than try to cram in as many as you can.
Pretty much anyone will find it weird if you keep trying to force the issue to discover more and more common ground. Your effort of building rapport should feel completely natural.
Keeping the conversation centred on you won’t give the other person enough of an opportunity to share their side of things or even answer you.
You can’t start building rapport and achieve a genuine connection until you are ready to make this a truly two-way conversation.
Remember that listening to the other person is a huge factor in learning how to connect them.
You can’t just pretend to have things in common either or find common ground where none exists. If there is no genuine connection, you can’t force things.
Instead of making up shared interests or situations, you should learn to back off.
Next time you see them try again. It’s much more likely to work.
No matter how hard you work at building rapport, it can be lost pretty easily if you make a wrong move.
One of the most obvious ways is if you are caught lying to them or talking about them behind their back.
Another more likely possibility is that the relationship slowly gets eroded over time due to a lack of contact or poor communication. Even a strong sense of rapport with someone else may not last long once you are no longer talking to them every relatively frequently.
Good rapport is an ongoing process. It is not a ‘one and done’ thing.
So, what should you do if the rapport you have with someone has been lost?
The good news is that you can easily recover the bond that has been broken. Just go back to what we looked at earlier in terms of the tips to build rapport in the first place. Do the right things to re-establish your credibility and recover the trust that has been lost. You should find that you can start connecting with them once again.
Perhaps the fastest way to rebuild your relationship is by creating shared experiences. When you do things together, it helps you to build stronger, longer-lasting bonds.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins calls rapport the “ability to enter someone else’s world” and “have a strong common bond”, so consider how you could do this.
Don’t just limit yourself to conversations when you can find other ways to connect, like having lunch together somewhere memorable or enjoying their company while you walk home.
If rapport has broken down because of a break down in trust you’ll need to take a different approach.
In this case, you will need to tackle the issue head-on before you can hope to re-establish the bond.
Sit down and talk the issue through. You can’t brush it under the carpet if you want to re-establish the connection.
We have looked at how to build rapport in the right way and some of the common errors people fall into when attempting to do it.
Perhaps the best single piece of advice when you want to create rapport is to be genuine and honest at all times.
Building rapport with someone should be a positive experience that enhances their day and your day.