Good Management – What it looks like and how to deliver it.

Testimonial: Eleanor Roosevelt said, “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” But what about when you are managing a team, have to hit targets and deliver results? – Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week I had the privilege of joining a panel with four members of Women in Planning for an online webinar talking about what is good management – what it looks like and how to deliver it.

No one is perfect and I think we have all been on the giving and receiving end of less-than-ideal management practices at some point in our careers. This forum, held under Chatham House rules, provided a space to have an honest chat about everyone’s experiences and ideas.

I really value learning from my peers, so I have included a few key ideas below that I picked up from these brilliant ladies and that I will be taking with me as we continue to grow our company at Grasshopper, and management plays an even bigger role in my working life:

Kath Haddrell is a Case Manager – Team Leader at the Planning Inspectorate with lots of public and private sector management experience. She said her management style resulted in her being called mum by her team – which I thought was rather lovely. Clearly her nurturing and congenial management style had made her team value her as a very significant role model in their lives – as well as someone to bring sweet treats to the office on a Friday afternoon! This nurturing management style didn’t prevent the team meeting significant statutory deadlines, which often involved working extremely long hours but where the team really pulled together.

Advice we took

Caroline Waller – a Partner at Clarke Willmott managing the Taunton planning team – gave some great advice about open and honest conversation within a team and how effective this can be in addressing some issues head on. It must require a skilled management style to achieve this, and useful tips were shared how to bring up difficult issues to your manager. This is something anyone in Caroline’s team, I imagine, has no trouble doing.

From Sam (Sunita) Mills at Somerset County Council was a suggestion that seemed to resonate with lots of people – panel and audience alike – to take time at the end of the day to reflect on what has happened and the actions you have taken. I’m a great fan of mindfulness (a Headspace sleepcast and I’m away!) but my workdays often end in a bit of a rush to school pick up. But this past week I’ve taken five minutes to have a think over a quick cup of coffee before dashing out the door and it’s definitely refreshed my perspective!

Are we forming, storming, norming or performing? This was the message from Leonie at Self Directed Learning. Her presentation encouraged us to look at what stage our company was in by comparing its operation to psychologist Bruce Tuckerman’s model. This was really insightful, thinking about how company culture and management can change – sometimes back and forth over time.

The four ladies we listen to

Listening to these four ladies (who I had never met before we did our practise run) was something I found really inspiring, so much so that I have suggested we look to do a series of these conversations. As for me, whilst I‘m a big fan of Eleanor Roosevelt and much of the work she did, I don’t think we can take her quote into the workplace.

I don’t think there is any doubt that management can be challenging, but we should put our put our heart, soul and head into being the best managers we can for the benefit of ourselves and those who we manage who will one day step up into our shoes.