Managing people is hard. They are all different, with different motivations, different wants, and different expectations of how to be treated. My top tip? Be the music for your team.
If you’ve ever watched a Bond film you’ll have seen this classic scene…
Bond has just slipped into a room in the dead of night, dressed in black. He’s searching the office for documents, or the bedroom for a safe. It’s tense as Bond is where he shouldn’t be.
Right in the lion’s den. The villain’s secret hideout. Then the music starts to play and the camera pans across slowly to reveal the villain’s top henchman. The one with silver teeth or that bloke with the lethal top hat. He’s hiding in the same room as Bond, lethal weapon in hand, watching our hero and ready to pounce. The scene has become even tenser because Bond could be bumped off at any moment. It’s a scene we all love, even though (or perhaps because) we know our hero will be absolutely fine. Who doesn’t love a good Bond film at Christmas?
Now imagine the scene without the music. Rubbish. The music tells us that things are about to change. It’s a warning, managing our expectations. It provides clarity, and helps tell the story.
Be the music for your team.
A member of your team is managing a tough project. They are capable. The last thing they need is your micro-management – “have you sent the report to the client yet?” or “the font on the slides is too small”, or “those images in the deck are not great”. Instead they need to benefit from your experience. You have become a people manager because you have experience. You’ve done it before. Seen it and got the t-shirt. Use that experience. What music do you hear playing when you think of a project one of your team is managing? You know from your experience that they’ll go over budget in three months. What can you do to share that with them so they don’t? Help them to avoid it.
Great people managers look ahead at the problems coming their team’s way – then they help them to see those problems and support them to prevent or deal with them. Being a great people manager is hearing the music that tells you the villain is in hiding.