The prinicples of managing staff

Managing staff in a community organisation requires a combination of reasonable and relevant tools for the teams, the development of skills and a management approach that is supportive but also very clear about standards and the need to focus on the clients. All staff members need to have a sense of common purpose, a feeling of being relevant and valued but also a clear understanding of what is negotiable in their job and what is not negotiable but it is reasonable to expect them to do.

From time to time the basic principles of managing staff in the sector can become lost in the pressures of actually meeting the day-to-day needs of clients, managers and other stakeholders. However, every community service is obviously only as effective as the way it selects and manages every one of its staff and it is useful to go back to basic principles and review you staff management.

Managing staff requires good recruitment, strong management systems to work to and the ability to convert clear staff principles into actions.

The basic principles include the following.

  1. A common sense of purpose: Often the reason for staff being there is not discussed and they are not regularly reminded of the history and accomplishments of the organisation.
  2. Well thought-out values, such as honesty, respect and so on – that are discussed with staff and used as the foundation for any actions or reactions of management.
  3. Simple rules or policies that are accessible and in plain English that provide the information about actions and behaviour that are required and those that are not.
  4. Every person knows exactly why they are there, what has to be done, how to do it and when it is done properly.
  5. Clear sign that staff members are valued – including reasonable working conditions, market rates of pay, respectful, client focused and staff supportive management.
  6. Trust is developed in each staff member and in turn each staff member can have trust in the leadership – honesty and integrity at the centre of all relationships in the organisation.
  7. Clarity in what is negotiable and what is not negotiable for staff as a whole and what each staff member is allowed to do – and what independence he or she has in each situation.
  8. Clear goals for what the organisation wants from its staff as a whole, each team and each individual.
  9. A simple approach to managing staff based on a coaching model where team leaders and managers work with and not “on top of” staff
  10. Problems are dealt with immediately but within the values and guidelines of the organisation


Staff management outcomes checklist

1 highly disagree; 5 highly agree

ISSUE 1 2 3 4 5
1. Our workers are well trained, highly motivated and appropriate for our organisation and staff          
2. Our team leaders and managers are well trained, highly motivated and appropriate for our organisation and staff          
3. Getting new staff who are appropriate is not too much of a problem for us          
4. Our turnover of staff workers is low          
5. Our turnover of staff/managers is acceptable          
6. We have adequate and affordable training for staff          
7. We have adequate training for managers and team leaders          
8. We have adequate funds for training          
9. Our managers and team leaders have adequate knowledge of appropriate ways to manage staff          
10. Our organisation manages change well          
11. We have access to relevant and usable information on industrial relations/legal conditions of employing staff          
12. We can obtain good information on employment conditions and practices in the sector          
13. Our recruitment is effective.          
14. Our managers/leaders understand the implications of government legislation that affects employing staff          
15. We have an effective staffing budget          
16. Our performance management system works really well          
17. Our methods of managing difficult staff are effective          
18. Our staff work in a very safe environment          
19. Our induction program for new staff is effective          
20. Our staff are willing to follow policies and procedures          

Working with a team everyday, team leaders may forget to apply basic principles of motivation and leadership. But without this platform it will be very difficult to move toward high performance and, indeed, small and too often major staffing problems will emerge.

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