Management: Iron Fist or Velvet Glove?

Being a manager can be one of the most challenging positions you’ll ever face throughout your professional career. You’ve been put in charge of a group of people, each as unique in personality and work ethic as the next, and it’s your job to help them to perform effectively and efficiently. The question is, how?

Velvet Glove

It’s no surprise that more often than not, those who are put in a managerial role have a difficult time adjusting. Some are unable to assert themselves for fear of upsetting others and making waves. They couch what should be directives in soft words, making it sound like they’re asking for favors – favors their employees can choose to do or not. When trouble crops up, they’re hesitant to nip it in the bud, which can compound the problem down the road. Oftentimes, these types of managers find themselves completely usurped by their own team and unable to take control of the reins.

Iron Fist

Conversely, there are managers who feel the only way to be effective is to be overly tough. They bark orders, criticize and fail to make their employees feel like valued members of the team. This inevitably leads to low morale, high turnover and a miserable experience for everyone involved. The staff finds themselves second-guessing every move and unable to seek guidance from their manager for fear of retribution; they have a leader in name but a dictator in practice.

The most effective managers are those who are able to lead with their iron fist encased in a velvet glove. They don’t micromanage; they give their staff breathing room to make mistakes and learn from them, offering guidance along the way and discipline when needed.

So, how does a manager apply the right amount of direction in tandem with the right amount of support?

Start off on the right foot

From the beginning, the manager makes clear what each employee is supposed to do and what is expected from them. They have laid out everyone’s roles and responsibilities, they’ve set expectations and they’ve left no room for confusion. They make their team feel valued, appreciated and confident.

Confront issues immediately

When trouble arises, a good manager addresses it right away; letting things go just lets issues fester and causes resentment. They are able to define what is acceptable, what is not acceptable and what the consequences will be if their expectations are not met.

Follow through

Actually doing what you say you’re going to do lets employees know you’re involved and you’re true to your word. Whether it’s going to the mat for them during their annual review or invoking consequences for repeated poor performance, you’re creating a sense of trust amongst the team.

Make your employees feel heard

Enough can’t be said about the power of being an active listener. Employees walk away knowing what they said was actually heard and understood.

Learn simple ways of applying the suggestions above using Fuel Medical’s EDGE process. We are here to help and provide the tools necessary for your practice to perform optimally. If you’re a current Fuel Medical member, contact your regional manager or account manager. If you aren’t a member yet, reach out to use at or (360) 210-5658 and get started today!

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