The Simple Guide to Becoming a Better Manager

Man leading his team and practicing becoming a better manager.

By Kelly Gunderson, Client Experience Director 

How to Manage “Right-Brained” Employees

Today’s workplace hosts a variety of work styles and ethics. Understanding these styles can make you a more successful leader and a better manager. According to Roger W. Sperry’s theory, most creatives use the right-brain workstyle, which can make them more visual and intuitive. People using their “right-brain” naturally look at the bigger picture and develop creative strategies to solve problems. So how do you manage employees obtaining this workstyle? According to Forbes.com, here are a few tips for managing your marketing and creative team effectively!

Tell them what you want to be completed, not how to complete the task itself.

Give general direction and expectations then allow creatives to figure out the best way to get the job done.

Give clear direction while keeping your distance.

Creative or right-brain teams have an emotional investment in their projects. Encouraging them to use their creativity during the process; is crucial. If creatives get off track, guide them back by giving them reminders of requirements.

Keep an open mind, especially with new concepts & ideas. 

The next time your marketing and creative team presents you with a concept for an upcoming project that they backed up with target audience research, listen.

Top Talents of Creative Leaders

According to the Gallup State of American Manager report, only one in 10 people have the talent to manage others effectively. If you want to become a better manager, use your specific talents and create an approach that focuses on your employees’ strengths, impacting their overall success and performance. When employees use their skills, they’re more engaged, have higher performance, and of course, are less likely to leave their company. Here are Gallup’s top 5 skills that Great Managers possess:

  1. Motivator: They challenge themselves and their teams to improve and deliver outstanding performance continually.
  2. Assertiveness: They overcome challenges, adversities, and resistance.
  3. Accountability: They ultimately assume responsibility for their teams’ successes and create the structure and processes to help their teams deliver on expectations.
  4. Relationships: They build a positive, engaging work environment where their teams create healthy relationships with one another and with clients.
  5. Decision-making: They solve issues by thinking ahead, planning for contingencies, balancing competing interests, and taking an analytical approach.

Working with Consultants & Freelancers

Traditional work environments have shifted – that means you’re likely not working the typical 9-5 hours or going into the office to perform daily tasks. More and more employees have left their traditional positions to start consulting businesses or have switched to freelance work. These consultants and freelancers are leveraging their expertise all within their laptops in the comfort of their own homes.

According to CNBC, Upwork’s seventh annual study entitled Freelance Forward surveyed more than 6,000 U.S. workers over the age of 18 and found that 59 million Americans performed freelance work in the past 12 months, representing 36% of the U.S. workforce – which is an increase of 2 million freelancers since 2019 according to this study.

With the massive change to remote working in 2020, many leaders realize they don’t need a physical location with a team sitting face-to-face for their businesses to thrive. So how do you become a better manager of a growing team of remote workers? Here are a few strategies to manage and lead a remote team:

  • Build Relationships & Staying Connected:

    Build a relationship with each remote team member or consultant. Work to understand their values, what’s important to them, and what motivates them. Getting to know their personal career goals will ultimately result in more successful projects for your organization.

  • Be Flexible & Adaptable:

    Consultants and freelancers typically work on more than just one project at a time and have more than one person they report to. Ensuring you have a clear understanding of their priorities, time allocations and availability will allow you to effectively manage the contract team.

  • Contribute to Professional Success:

    Provide open and honest feedback to freelancers & consultants on strengths and provide recommendations on areas for improvement. Keep consultants engaged by sending them development opportunities, connect with them one-on-one, and when applicable, help to promote their brand too.

Why Employee Engagement Is Important 

When your team is not passionate or uninspired, they’ll disengage. Employees want to know the work they perform is making a positive impact on their company. According to Gallup State of the American Workplace report, only one-third of U.S. employees feel engaged in their workplace. And only about one in five say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. Ultimately, engaged employees are more successful brand ambassadors and perform at their best because they’re more passionate about their organization’s purpose and mission.

Part of becoming a better manager means finding new and interesting ways to engage your team – especially in the midst of a pandemic. Looking for specific solutions? Here are some ideas from managers who responded to our Embracing Remote Work + Engaging Employees survey:

  • Generous use of Teams / Slack for gifs and shenanigans, trivia and bingo online, sports pools
  • Jackbox.tv games
  • Birthday drive-by
  • Jamboards to share details from those who are working from home
  • Virtual or in-person, socially distanced personal/professional development with an outside subject matter expert
  • Themed stand-ups, meetings, and happy hours
  • Quizzes
  • Check-ins at the driving range while hitting golf balls together

I hope this research and these actionable insights give you direction in managing amidst this new and ever-changing landscape. If you have further questions or would like to connect with me, please feel free to reach out to me at any time!

Kelly's headshot - author of blog - The Simple Guide to Becoming a Better Manager

Kelly Gunderson has been working within the staffing & recruiting industry for 7+ years. Kelly is currently the Client Experience Director at Celarity, a marketing recruiting firm that has had strong local roots in the Minnesota marketing community for over 27 years. In her time, Kelly has placed over 300 professionals into 75+ organizations as well as worked directly with Fortune 500 companies. She enjoys managing the Celarity Client Experience Team and helping Marketing, Creative, and Digital leaders build & grow their own teams.

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