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The First Line Managers Training experience with Sara Smith

Last week marked the final presentation and graduation for the First Line Managers Course that both me and Ellis completed. These past 6 months have been enlightening and I have learnt so much about both myself and how to be an effective manager/team leader, more than I thought I would have done.

Some of the main lessons that I have taken from the course are things that I can put into practice with the customer service team and are things that I am looking forward to being able to implement in the near future. These included learning how to work with your team to take them from working in a comfort zone to working in a stretch zone. This would be where the team would be stretching and learning themselves without feeling stressed or overworked and is something that I think can be easily implemented. Following on from that I learned how important it is to take a group of people and turn them into a team. The difference is that a group will be working independently whereas a team that works interdependently has shared visions and goals and all have a common understanding of what tasks needs to be done. This is very important for the customer service team as the busier we get and the more I can implement my project, the more we all need to have a shared vision to create a better and happier working environment.

As well as learning about techniques to improve the team I have also learned a lot about how to improve myself as a team leader. Parts of the course that I found beneficial were learning how to become more assertive. This involves being able to achieve goals, stand up for yourself and put your point across without being aggressive. It also involves having the appropriate level of confidence, being a good listener and being able to recognise your own and others' value. This is something that I am working on as I think it would be beneficial for all.

As well as being more assertive I also benefited from learning about delegation and learning to say ‘no’, this has helped me in my role as it allows me to focus on tasks and complete work without being stressed and overworked. Doing this has also allowed members of the team to take on new challenges that they might have not done before. Part of this is also learning about my personal development and how my energy is emulated throughout the team. I found this important as I need to be able to show positive energy as much as possible to keep the team energised and motivated.

Overall, I have loved being part of the first line managers course as it has allowed me to meet managers/supervisors from other companies in Indutrade and has allowed me to see other companies’ points of view. It has also taught me a lot and inspired me to put what I have learnt into practice. My final project was called ‘Improving Ellard’s customer intimacy’, and this involved having the customer service team build better relationships with our customers by learning about them as people as well as companies. This is something that I want to implement soon as it would help us as a team create better relationships with our customers and ultimately increase turnover and the whole customer experience.

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