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You Carry the Weather, Mr. People Manager!
C Mahalingam (Mali)
Monday, July 31, 2006
Granted that you have become a People Manager by design. And that your organization has given you the mandate to manage a team of people. Now commences your journey to understanding this role and mastering it through practice.

Most organizations have vision, mission and values and they are articulated neat and clear on the website besides posting them on the walls prominently. Most of these values relate to Customers, Owners and Employees and how we deliver value to them. In many places, that is where company’s commitment to values begins and ends! Going beyond the rhetoric to reality, values need to be lived everyday by everyone in the organization. And those organizations that have successfully accomplished living values and leading by values have leveraged the role of People Managers very effectively.

People Managers need to have a clear understanding of how they can live up to the core values of the Company through their daily actions. This sets the right climate for managing people. Through every action of theirs including how they induct and orient new joiners, communicate with their team members, participate in setting performance goals, deliver feedback on performance, choose to reward and recognize, manage out marginal performers and coach and counsel, people managers bring to bear the Company values.

Let us look at some specific areas where People Managers can demonstrate their interest in people and thereby create the right climate:

Practicing Openness and Trust in dealing with team members. Remember Stephen Covey’s comments: Trust worthiness precedes Trust. Managers must demonstrate they are trust worthy, before they expect the team to trust them. Willingness to accept healthy criticism, attentive listening (note that waiting to talk is not the same as listening!), respect for individuals in the team, etc., will go a long way in generating the trust and openness.

Providing clarity of expectations and standards is another important step to creating the climate. Employees are entitled to know what your expectations from them are in clear and unambiguous terms, besides what is the yardstick you will be using to measure whether they have met the expectations or not.

Certain degree of informality goes a long way in creating the right climate. It is not about turning the team into a ‘country club’, but it is about deemphasizing the hierarchy so ideas and suggestions for improvement flow freely.

Accepting differences, as a normal way of working is important in creating the climate. Some managers, by their behavior and style , constantly communicate the following:
Everyone in my team is entitled to an opinion-and that is mine!
There are two ways of doing things, viz., my way and the wrong way!!
Management by Walking Around (MBWA) and while doing so, catching people doing things right as opposed to catching people doing things wrong.
Needless to say there are many other aspects and ways of creating the right climate where people feel wanted, respected and appreciated for their contributions.

To conclude, Organization’s Culture may be all pervasive, but even more impactful would be the climate the people managers create for their people. In other words, Managers carry the weather!

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