In last month’s article we covered the importance of developing and nurturing good working relationships with specific emphasis on the supply chain.
This month, we turn our attention to managing those in our closer, working environment more effectively and exploring what ‘good’ should look like. This group of employees clearly includes all drivers – both those at the wheel of company-provided vehicles and the ‘grey fleet’ population – but also fleet department colleagues and those where there is a ‘dotted line’ relationship, maybe in a different department.
The motor industry has perhaps been guilty of not giving due credence to the importance of developing and maintaining good working relationships and, in the early days of the ICFM, there was a noticeable level of ‘professional arrogance’ on display.
This was coupled with a noticeable disregard for key elements that in 2019 we must recognise as being vitally important.
To further complete the situation, in modern times, we place a high level of reliance on text and other electronic communications methods, that have perhaps eroded our natural ability to interact on a more personal level.
THE KEY FACTORS
Trust – the foundation stone of every good relationship and one that cannot be overstated as an important ingredient.
Mutual respect – this requires commitment to value work colleagues’ input, opinions and
aspirations; the other side of the coin is a realistic expectation they will value yours. Such respect is, after all, the very basis on which creativity and project development are based and manifested.
Mindfulness – the absolute need to demonstrate professionalism at all times, being responsible for comments made, actions taken and promoting positive outcomes in all we do.
Embracing diversity – another vitally important element, since effective stakeholder development can only be recognised by the acceptance of the expanding diversity that exists in our working environment, the people and their valuable contribution and opinions.
Communication – the pinnacle point for training, development and effective product or service delivery. The fleet arena, like all other industries, is surrounded by a plethora of e-communications, meetings, conferencing and social media influences. It is an area driven by relentless change and can be an unforgiving environment for those who do not embrace it. Open and honest communication is the start point and reaps real benefits in the long run.
Benefits of a good working relationship
It naturally follows that the better our working relationships, the more satisfying and productive the likely outcomes will be, since they are the key drivers to a number of benefits, which include:
* The working environment is a much happier place to be and, bearing in mind that most of us spend more than a third of our time engaged in business-related activity each week, this is important.
* Our work ethic and behaviour are the tapestry that others see and on which they base their judgements and reactions. Managing others effectively will positively influence changes that we want to implement and deliver more innovative and creative outcomes.
What’s more, the effective management of others generates freedom to focus on opportunities and is the fuel for instilling high levels of staff engagement.
On this point, it should be recognised that in any business there are essentially three types of employee:
Those who only see benefit and promote positive outcomes.
Those who generally have a neutral stance and neither agree or disagree.
Those who take a more negative view and see change as an opportunity to ‘take a stand’.
When applying effective management techniques, it should be appreciated that although it is important to maintain focus on the ‘engaged’ and ‘disengaged’ sectors, who should, of course, be included and encouraged, it is the ‘passive’ sector where quick wins and positive outcomes can cultivate significant benefit.
The reason for this is quite straightforward – ‘passive’ individuals are more likely to be influenced and drawn towards the ‘disengaged’ sector than go in the other direction and if not managed effectively, the beneficiaries will be those in the ‘disengaged’ sector.
What impact does managing people effectively have on career prospects?
The answer is of course – a great deal! Gaining a reputation for achieving great things in the area of managing others effectively, is a pre-cursor to being recognised as a good manager, supervisor or team leader. It is a skill set that adds significant weight to a CV.
Good relationships must be viewed as an essential ingredient to career development. After all, if our bosses don’t trust what we say and do, it is unlikely we will be high on the promotion list.
The area of managing others effectively is a complex one and we have touched on some of the key factors involved. But there is, of course, more to be taken into consideration.
Would you like to know more? For expert help and advice join the ICFM, which provides access to fleet operational best practice tips. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and quote Fleet News.
A 10-point checklist
1. First and foremost, recognise that we all share the same work space with our colleagues and we all have the same desire to work with people we’re on good terms with and enjoy the benefits that it produces.
2. Allocate time to build and develop relationships. Most of us now operate in very busy working environments and it is all too easy to ‘park’ the area of managing others effectively as a non-core requirement.
3. Develop your people skills to ensure you do have the right level of communication and collaboration techniques and have the right tools in your box to deal with work-related challenges and conflicts.
4. Sense-check your own relationshipneeds and requirements and create a benchmark summary of what your expectations are of your colleagues and, likewise, what they expect from you.
5. Develop a culture that recognises appreciation and delivers complimentsfor a job done well.
6. Adopt a positive stance in all that you do, resist the temptation to engage in negative or critical dialogue and pursue a ‘can do’ attitude with colleagues and key stakeholders.
7. Listen actively and ensure that all the facts are available before casting judgement. Erratic decisions deliver only one outcome – loss of confidence.
8. Recognise the need and right way to ‘say no’ when required and maintain a firm, but balanced, position when the need arises. Appeasing a decision that you know to be flawed will not promote respect.
9. Pay particular attention to managing difficult relationships – we can’t always like the people we work with, but we do have to work effectively with them. The first step is to work more closely with the individuals concerned, ensure that emotions don’t overshadow good decisions and try to gain
their respect and trust.
10. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – approach the subject on a progressive basis and deliver more, promise less.