Line management

Listen to part of a radio programme where a manager is talking about dealing with staff.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.

Transcript

Presenter: Welcome back to the second part of our programme, How do you manage? I have with me Jenny Buxton, who works in Ipswich. Welcome, Jenny.

Manager: Hi.

Presenter: You work for a well-known firm of retailers, but it's not the products I wanted to talk to you about today, it's the people involved. You've been responsible for a staff of 15 for a year or so now. Tell me how you got there.

Manager: Well, I did the standard round of applications from university and this is my second employer. I enjoy the area of retailing, but as far as managing staff, that's more recent and so it's quite a new area for me, with a whole new set of challenges.

Presenter: You pride yourself on being good with people. You've got quite a sociable, outgoing personality. I imagine you'd be a good person to work under.

Manager: Well, that's what I like to think. But managing people isn't all about sitting down with a cup of tea and talking over issues. Being in a position of responsibility means you can be the bringer of bad news as well as good. You have to develop a thick skin ... to be unpopular, not to be liked for a decision you make.

Presenter: And I guess that can be hard at first.

Manager: Yes, but the thing you learn, if you stick at it long enough, is that people will still respect you even if they don't like what you had to say on a particular subject or the way you acted.

Presenter: Are there other aspects of line managing that you find difficult?

Manager: One of the hardest, most awkward things is the issue of disciplinary action. The company should have a system in place for dealing with this kind of area, and you have to make sure the system is understood and agreed by everyone. But ultimately, if you've taken the employee through all the procedures and he or she still doesn't shape up, some hard decisions have got to be made.

Presenter: We seem to be focusing a lot on the negative side here. What about some of the positive things?

Manager: Oh, the chance to help people reflect on things, how they are developing with the company. I like seeing people develop, change and perhaps go off on a completely new path, something that may never have occurred to them if you hadn't pointed them in that direction.

Presenter: I imagine it can be quite satisfying.

Manager: Yes. And then there's the sheer variety. You plan your work, you have to get yourself well organised, but ultimately no two days are ever the same. There's always a new challenge, and I like that more than anything.

Discussion

Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

No directly, but in my previous job I was coordinating the office so my boss asked me to tell him all the things that happen in the office. One of them was coordinating the team and help them to do their job correctly.

No, I have not. Nevertheless, I'm like the teamwork project manager of the group homeworks from my University. I have to get ideas for the project and then I have to explain them to the rest of the team. I consider that the most important thing in my teamwork is the respect; if people people don't agree with my ideas, they still have to respect them. I also have to encourage the teamwork and set a time limit for people to hand in their parts of the project and they know that if they don't hand in their parts before the time limit, I will not consider them in the project presentation. Nevertheless, there's an exception which is that someone has personal troubles such as some members of their family came down with covid-19 or with any other dangerous illness; it is so difficult I understand that kind of situation Overall, that's all what I do. It is not exactly line-managed staff, but I think they are somewhat related.
Yes, when I was working in an Audit Firm, I had 10 people in my team every year, they were all young, they needed to be excited about the job. Of course I could meet very proffesional people and other not so responsible. A good communication was the key. In my next job, I was responsible for 4 people, not so young as the team in the Audit Firm, I needed to change my management tools with this new team.
I've worked in line-managing positions and although I found it very exciting, yet it's challenging sometimes... In my opinion, I think anyone works in line-managing positions has to be help staff achieve the goals by making them understand the importance of the roles they play in the business/operation cycle. When the employee understands that her/his good performance will result in accomplishing the organisation ultimate goals, which will result in flourishing the the org. and that will be reflected positively on her/him in the shape of stable career, bonus, appreciations...etc. surely she/he will work hard. Another very important thing which is the line-managers have to create a working environment to help the employees feel she/he is appreciated, secured, respected... etc.
I am working in IT outsource company. So our employees report to 2 sides - our company and client company. And I would say it is hard to build this relationship with your subordinates when you know they should follow client processes as well.
managing the staffs is a challenging task, because upon my experiences there will be at least one or two bad eggs in your team. so finding the flexible ways to approach and lead them with transparent disciplines and visions are fundamental goals to lead the team.
I have never been formally in that position but in fact I have influence on developing on two young colleagues. I would like to impose strong influence on them in order to educate them and make them better lawyers.
No, I haven't. In my opinion, a good manager needs to know the work process well and be able to communicate with the team.
Have you ever line-managed staff? No, I haven't. I hope I will try in the future.
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