global recruitment specialists
Sharmini Byrne is an Area Manager at Reed Specialist Recruitment and was recognised as one of the top managers in the company last year. She now has responsibility for six branches across West London and manages her own branch in Wembley. Here she talks to inManagement about the challenges of managing a big team across different locations and why it is important that they all excel and do better than her.
inManagement magazine issue 12, September 2013
Sharmini Byrne studied Business Management at Kings College London and joined REED as a trainee in 2005. She became a branch manager in 2008 and currently has a five-strong management team and responsibility for 33 consultants across the area. As part of her management training, she attended the REED Management Academy.
How would you descrIbe your style of leadershIp?
It's a real mix of hands-on and consultative but it depends on what is needed at the time, the person involved and what else is happening. I also think a coaching style is important. We are putting in place a coaching culture within REED and it helps to build a two-way street between managers and their teams. It's the same as in sport: you get a talented person and then coach them to be the very best they can be and that's what I want for my people.
How do you ensure buy-in from the team?
Because I've worked my way up, I've done all of the roles for the people I manage. It is important to demonstrate how and why things need to be done. I've always bought into managers who've been able to adapt to change at the right time so believe that is important. Because of the pace of our industry, you need to embrace change and roll things out in a positive manner. You've got to sell the idea of what's happening and that generally helps people buy into it.
What skills are key in your management role?
To be approachable, confident, culturally aware, have good listening skills and demonstrate passion, along with the usual core management skills of problem-solving and quick thinking. It's also important to have good business acumen and be able to take yourself away from the day-to-day and look at the longer term strategy. I project a year ahead, managers work two to three months ahead and consultants are thinking a month ahead. As well as being enthusiastic and passionate, you also have to be stern at times and that is something I'm still practicing – I'm not there yet!
How do you motivate the team?
I always ensure they have something to work towards and also fi nd out what incentivises them personally. A lot of people think that just because we're in sales it's just money that makes people happy but this is not the case. I've come from the bottom up and proved that if you are self-motivated you can get anywhere you want so I try to encourage my team to be the same. A good teacher should ensure their students excel and ultimately do better than them.
Have you ever had a mentor?
I've had quite a few unofficial mentors, including most of my previous managers. They've tended to have a quality or something in them that I've wanted want to embody. I've worked in six different branches now and each time I've moved on I've taken the best parts of previous managers to make myself a better manager and leader. I also ask my peers and my teams for feedback. Outside of work my parents have always inspired me to be the best I can be.
Do you enjoy business programmes on the TV? What can they teach us?
I watch all of them and enjoy anything competitive. Dragon's Den shows that if you are talented at putting across a business idea you will get the money. This year's The Apprentice showed that you need to be able to change and adapt an idea which is where one of the candidates went wrong. If I'm throwing information at one of my team that suggests they need to change course it is important that they recognise this and act on it. The last book I read was Put your Mindset to Work by James Reed and Dr Paul G. Stoltz.
How do you relax?
I'm relatively new in the role so don't get as much time to relax as I like but I live in the country and enjoy nice long walks to clear the head.
What is your most likely next move?
We have a clear development framework at REED which I'm hoping to be promoted through into my next position. In the long-term, I'd like to work for REED overseas and open up an office in a country where there are development opportunities or to be a country manager. My family is from Malaysia originally so my dream would be to work in Kuala Lumpur.
What advice do you have for other managers, especially those new in role?
I've definitely learnt from mistakes that you don't go in all guns blazing. Make your introduction and then sit back and observe. Speak to everyone individually and find out what makes them tick as this will help bring out the best in them. Make sure your behaviour is consistent with the team so they can buy into you. Hold regular meetings and don't get bogged down so much by the day-to-day activities that you let fundamental things like these slip. The thing I always say to others is that when you start to think that you are no longer just making the money for yourself but want to be successful for the team and the organisation that is the time to go into management. It shows you are ready to bring other people on and inspire them to do well.
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