Emily John – The Making of a Manager

I’ve been working in PR for seven years and I’ve found that leading team members to success and helping them to build on their strengths is one of the most rewarding elements of my role.

Both during my time at Jargon PR and at other agencies, I’ve worked with a number of brilliant managers and learning from them both in terms of what works well and, of course, what should be avoided, has been very helpful to me.

While I don’t claim to be a management guru and recognise that developing skills in this area is a life-long journey, I do find being a manager extremely fulfilling and wanted to capture and share some of the lessons I have learnt along the way.

Mastering your listening skills

It’s incredibly important for managers to listen to their team, not only to secure new ideas, insights and perspectives for clients and campaigns but also to understand the intentions and feelings of their colleagues.

I’ve learned that employees will be more open, positive and motivated if they feel like they are being listened to and will strive to do their best for the wider team and agency. This skill can make you a better and more effective manager, and it’s critical to focus and avoid any distractions during these conversations.

Enhancing your communication

As a hybrid-working agency, with members of the team based in different locations across the UK (as well as New York and Dubai), bridging the distance between different colleagues with timely communication is essential.

I’ve learned that managers need to be able to handle difficult conversations, confidently ask questions and provide constructive feedback to their team members, while giving their colleagues a voice and an opportunity to express their views. It’s vital to communicate effectively with teams in order to build strong relationships, but also manage the day-to-day operations of client campaigns and increase productivity. 

Encourage development

Different people thrive in different work environments – some people prefer close guidance and others excel when given the opportunity to work independently and take creative control.

I have come to understand over the years the importance of staying in tune with my team, knowing their drivers and understanding their needs and how to get the best out of them.

Management is not simply a question of delegating tasks, but rather it is considering how tasks or projects can help team members to develop and elevate their skills. This links back to listening and communication skills, as you need to have an understanding of individuals’ strengths and where they want to enhance their experience. 

Getting honest feedback

At Jargon PR, I am surrounded by other great managers and receiving advice and feedback from them is hugely valuable. Working together we have created a culture of honest and open communication which enables us to gather feedback from the wider team both when it comes to client campaigns and their professional development.

Feedback helps us to determine when or where we need to offer more support, or where an individual’s management style might benefit from being adjusted. Through feedback I find I am constantly learning as a manager, understanding different perspectives and expanding my knowledge which collectively helps me (I think) to make better decisions. 

Leading by example

A good leader is able to “walk the talk”, by guiding others to success with actions rather than just words. Demonstrating capability contributes enormously to trust and respect in the workplace, positioning a manager as a mentor and someone that is committed to building a positive work culture. I’ve also seen that teams are more likely to be productive when they see their manager doing some of the heavy lifting, and will proactively develop more effective and efficient processes as a result.

Ultimately, I’ve learned that a good manager should have self-awareness, respect, empathy and agility while having the ability to listen and communicate effectively. Leadership is a skill that is developed over time, through experience and continuous development, so it’s vital to be open to growth and put in the time to better understand your team and what they need from you as a leader. 

I would love to hear your perspective on these along with your own hints and tips… please do get in touch and share your thoughts.