Interim Management

Claude’s five management tips that work

Interim Manager Claude worked at Proefbedrijf Pluimveehouderij, an independent poultry farming research company in the province of Antwerp, for nine months. The institute conducts applied research into keeping laying hens and broiler chickens. The aim? To provide knowledge to keep the poultry sector profitable, taking the chicken and egg quality, animal welfare and the environment into account.

Claude’s main points for attention were around trust, management and communication. Would you like to find out how he went about it, and what tips he can share with you from his experiences?

Factsheet Claude

Tips for optimal leadership

1. Show trust in your team

Claude: ‘Being empathetic, listening to people and openly appreciating their work helps you gain trust, so people are more likely to come to you with the core of any issues. I also noticed that if people can describe the problem clearly, they usually already have a number of solutions in mind.’

Trust works in both directions: the employees need to trust me, and I need to trust them. If the work isn’t done properly, they will need to regain my trust.’

2. No more stress

‘An atmosphere of trust is only possible in a stress-free environment, so it’s important to formulate a clear shared vision and put events into perspective in this context,’ says Claude.

Frustration is another source of stress. If people cannot optimise their own way of working, frustrations arise. I believe in learning through doing. In practice, this means experimenting with affordable prototypes.’

‘The handlers were given time to build a kind of snowplough, for example, to loosen the caked manure in the barns more easily.’

‘Did this eliminate the effects of stress? Well, people started to feel and take their responsibility,’ explains Claude. ‘So spending a whole day “pretending to be busy” became a thing of the past. Another solution that contributed to this change in mentality was the introduction of flexible work schedules. So employees can use their overtime to take time off in lieu and go home earlier or start later when work permits.’

3. Choose a bottom-up approach

Claude: ‘It’s also essential that you know for yourself how each job is done in practice. That’s why I helped clean up the manure together with the night shift team, for example. It helped me realise where any issues were and it was an ideal way to start conversations with the people working there, which was another step towards building relationships based on trust.’

‘I also recommend letting people come up with creative solutions themselves,’ continues Claude. ‘It’s important to encourage people to think in terms of solutions rather than problems. Then you can help them put their ideas into practice, too.’

4. Create a safe haven 

Claude: ‘I believe in delegating decision-making without handing over full responsibility. Being able to make decisions, while still being protected against the effects any bad decisions, boosts people’s self-confidence. You provide a safe haven where employees can flourish.’

‘How else can you help employees flourish? By adapting their tasks to their skills and interests. The regular daily tasks are still carried out; people with an interest in technology do the maintenance or engineering work, for example, while others work in the garden, optimise the way the animals are looked after, or repair the company bikes. This approach means the regular day-to-day tasks are carried out more efficiently.’

5. Communicate clearly and follow everything up

Claude: ‘I drew up a weekly schedule with specific tasks and workplaces for every employee each day. And I gave everyone the holiday planning for the following week, so they knew whether any extra holiday requests might be accepted.’

‘We also ran through the planning every day and updated it to compensate for any unexpected absences if necessary, and held debriefing sessions after any interventions by the animal handler on duty outside office hours.’

‘There were also weekly team meetings, where the handlers planned the diary,’ continues Claude. ‘We discussed animal welfare, training and technical organisational matters. Researchers were also invited to clarify their research protocols or present their results.’

Would you like to achieve impressive results like these?

If you’re looking to get started as an interim manager, or want temporary support from experienced managers for your business, we can help!

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