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To be a manager you have to be a chameleon

By Pam Lindsay-Dunn, Director of People and Culture, Hays EMEA

If becoming a people manager is on your career plan, then learning how to be adaptable should be your first priority.

A good manager is flexible, and able to shift and flex in response to the changing environment around them and, crucially, the different motivations of the individuals they lead. In short, they are a chameleon who can adapt to suit the situation at hand.

For instance, the best managers look at the rapid changes occurring in today’s world of work with an open mind, consider and experiment with new ways of performing tasks and motivate their team to adapt and grow accordingly to remain successful. They’ll juggle multiple responsibilities effectively and won’t drop the ball when priorities change suddenly.

They’ll adapt their leadership style for each team member according to what works best for them. For example, one team member may value regular feedback and direction but another may consider this to be micromanagement.

The best people managers also adapt development plans to suit the needs and goals of the individuals in their team. For example, an employee who wants to grow their skills in a particular area could be offered a relevant stretch opportunity while a poor performer may need one-on-one coaching.

How to show that you’re adaptable

Employers are paying more attention to who they promote into people management roles. They are assessing top performers to determine if they have the necessary soft skills to lead.

So how can you demonstrate the adaptability required to manage? Here are our tips:

Be adjustable: Whether organisational, technological or skills-based, change is inevitable. Next time something new is proposed or put forward, embrace it, shift the way you work accordingly, and then help others in your team to do the same. You must show you can move out of your comfort zone and see change as an opportunity for growth and innovation.

Show emotional intelligence: Understand your emotional response to change, problems and stress. If necessary, work on improving your emotional intelligence (EQ) so you remain calm and poised in these situations. If you see someone else struggling, be helpful and empathetic. Don’t forget to tap into positive emotions. For instance, could you give a colleague an inspiring pep-talk to help them see the positives that can result from adapting to change?

Keep updated on your industry: Be aware and responsive to changes occurring in your industry or sector. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups, attend industry events and networking functions, tune into webinars and podcasts and keep an eye on what the competition. This will help you stay on top of current trends and then adapt by plugging any resulting skill or knowledge gaps.

Be respectful: More workplaces are embracing diversity of thought and collaboration to encourage employees to share ideas. Show that you can adapt by embracing the ideas of others and, in cases where you may not agree with a colleague’s opinion, keep the resulting debate on-task and professional, never personal. Never put a fellow employee down for speaking her or his mind.

Keep going: If your first solution to a problem is turned down by your manager, come up with an alternative. Don’t dwell on the rejection of your idea or become resentful – there could be many reasons you haven’t considered as to why it was not viable. Instead, accept the decision and go back to the drawing board to create an even better course of action.

With these tips you can demonstrate you have the adaptability required to step into the world of people management. You’ll show you can flex in response to what motives your employees and changes in your workplace, industry and wider world of work. Importantly, you’ll demonstrate an ability to adapt to suit any situation at hand.

For more information on your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Pam has been at Hays for over 20 years and is the Director of People and Culture working across EMEA. Prior to her current role working across Europe, Pam held a management role within Hays running a large commercial region in the UK. Having benefited from gaining first-hand experience managing teams in a busy sales environment, Pam is now passionate about sharing her experience; providing the best support to our business and ensuring that our workforce is able to adapt to the changing world of work.

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