The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
If you have ever needed to make a presentation, you will have at some point experienced the fear of making a mess of things, looking foolish, frightened of forgetting what you wanted to say, having a sense of inferiority, or something along those lines.
Why is this? Well, we all feel that we want to make a good impression, to make a difference, to make an impact, and often we put so much pressure on ourselves to perform that we suffer from a greater flow of adrenalin, hence causing ourselves to feel the effects of nervousness.
Some form of nervousness is actually good; it causes you to concentrate on what you are going to say and makes you focus on what would make that good impression. It’s when your nerves get the better of you that causes the problem of excessive fear of under-performance. Learn More
We had an interesting discussion on a recent training course about how continuous improvement within a department can be supported.
One manager on the course was implementing a Kaizen Programme and his main concern was that the structure of the organisation, and especially his team, might not be supported sufficiently well to implement and maintain a continuous improvement process.
I made some notes and shared it later with the group. Here are my ideas; see if they would work for you.
1) It firstly needs support from top management, with a commitment to providing the resources that drive improvement at all times. Without this commitment, it may be a dead duck before you start.
2) The culture of the team and the whole organisation has to support continuous improvement. If there are any obstacles (people, systems, processes, etc.), you will find it difficult to maintain any
3) The trust levels between everyone involved has to be very high. This means managers have to deliver on their promises to their teams, so everyone is fully committed to changes that have to be made.
4) Continuous support has to be given by management. This would involve facilitating action groups, providing coaching and training, and offering different levels of support at an individual level.
5) Processes of measurement and evaluation have to take place vigorously. Without these, people will not get the necessary feedback to know how the improvement programme is being assessed, and what they can do to support the mechanisms of success.
6) The team must function as a learning hub. The managers have to enable this learning to be applied, so everyone can appreciate what needs to happen to support improvement. Without a learning culture, you will be running through treacle!
7) Each improvement needs some kind of recognition and reward. This doesn’t have to be monetary, but needs to be worthwhile so everyone can see the benefits of applying themselves to providing the
conditions to support continuous improvement.
We discussed that Kaizen should always be a part of the culture, and not seen as a short-term campaign that will fizzle out when attention is placed on something else. Don’t view it as a ‘program’ that we are going through; see it as a ‘way of working’ that everyone can and should subscribe to every day. That way, you encourage support and an attitude of Kaizen that creates a great working environment.
So, you face a real challenge, something that would test the patience of a saint, or cause a headache to even the most seasoned chief exec. In fact, you may go as far as saying, ‘You know, we got a problem here!’ There are basically only four factors that you need to consider when you are troubleshooting problems, whether they be business or personal. Ask the right questions and you get the foundation laid for solving these situations. The four factors are: People, Systems, Structure and Circumstances. Firstly, People: Ask these types of questions when things go wrong; 1) Have mistakes been made, and why? Are staff not capable, or have they been badly managed? Do they lack confidence or competence? 2) If management is at fault, was it the system that let them down, the hierarchy or the managers themselves? 3) If the people are incompetent, what can be done to recify the situation? Train them? Coach them? Move them on? Secondly, it’s Systems: 1) How culpable are the systems currently being used? 2) Is the fault the systems themselves? Are they badly designed or not appropriate to the way of working? 3) Are the people who run the systems at fault? Next, there’s Structure: 1) Has the organisation or management structure contributed to the problem? 2) Do people understand the expectations of the structure? 3) Can control be exercised over the structure, or is it too unmanagable to work? 4) Are team members clear on what their responsibilities are for maintaining control, and are they effectively carrying out these responsibilities? And lastly,there’s Circumstances: 1) Are circumstances within the control of the people managing the situation? Are external forces (the economy, weather, government activity) affecting the results? 2) Are measures in place to minimise the affects of these external forces? 3) Have adequate resources been put in place to counteract circumstances that may affect results? Each of these factors can influence the problems you face to some extent or other. You need to analyse the end results before assessing what can be done. But if you ask the right questions, you stand a better chance of diagnosing the situation and determining the right steps to take to prescribe the answers. Thanks again Sean
You may have heard of the Peter Principle. Back in the 1970’s, Dr Lawrence Peter suggested that, in a hierarchy, individuals tend to rise to the level of their own incompetence.
Most systems actually encourage this because people are told that if they work hard, do their job efficiently and get results, they will be promoted. But, as Peter himself says, “The problem is that when you find something you can’t do very well, that is where you stay, bungling your job, frustrating your colleagues and eroding the effectiveness of the organisation.”
This reflects a fundamental problem when assessing people’s potential. If someone is good at their current job, does this naturally predict success in the next one? Maybe, maybe not. Technical competence does not necessarily equate to managerial competence, for example.
How can you beat the Peter Principle?
With difficulty, but with perseverance. You need to match the person’s capabilities with the demands of the job. Your starting point should be an analysis of the skills required to achieve success in the new role.
Remember the acronym ‘MATCH’ and you give yourself a chance to win:
Managerial: The ability to make things happen, lead people, inspire them, motivate, build a team, maintain morale, co-ordinate, direct effort, use resources and control events. Does the person have the capacity to do all these?
Analytical: Directing problems and coming up with the right conclusions. Can they achieve this?
Technical/professional: The ability to use other people’s knowledge professionally as well as having the competence to do the job themselves. Are they able to do this?
Communications: The ability to put a message across in a way that is clear, understandable, brief, accurate and motivational. Do they have this capability?
Human Resource Management: The ability to get the best out of others and tap into their potential. Do they have the ability to get these results?
These five criteria should act as a sounding board when you are assessing the capability of someone to be promoted. Ask yourself what indications of capability do they show in their current role that will be utilised in the future role. If not, what weaknesses could be addressed so they have the capacity to carry out the future role?
After the promotion, monitor the progress of the individual so you keep tabs on how they are progressing and assist in their development.
So, although the Peter Principle is alive and well in many organisations, you have the ability to create the foundations to overcome it, if you use the ‘match’ acronym and identify the assistance you can give someone before they reach their level of incompetence.
Have you ever driven into a fog bank that suddenly reared up in front of you?
You immediately slow down, gripping the steering wheel tightly. If you are traveling with someone, conversation is abruptly stopped. You switch on your lights and peer through the murk to get your bearings. You scan ahead for road markings or kerbstones. You quickly check your mirrors, hoping your rear lights are bright enough to alert any drivers behind you. The longer it goes on, the more tired you become. Your attention and concentration changes your perception of time.
It’s also likely that, at times, you have worked in a fog. Work is slower than normal, teamwork suffers, stress levels increase, you get disengaged and productivity suffers. Team-mates who see the problems looming, want more information.
In response, overwhelmed, multi-tasking managers work overtime “communicating”.
However, like driving in a fog, managers can find themselves creating messages rather than meaning, because there is no far-reaching strategic vision and direction. If you can’t see very far, everything is a struggle. In business, more information is sought when under pressure, desperately seeking meaning to the current desperation.
What has to happen is the fog must clear first before progress is made. In the fog of business disillusion, vision is required to search for meaning. Then strategy is needed to search for business advantage.
Team members expect managers to lead as well. Through the rocky waters of change, they require consistency and direction. The manager’s job is to provide a shared image of the future, generate commitment to the goals and ensure alignment of activities. Without these attributes, the fog will descend thick and fast and people will not know the direction they need to travel.
Cut through the fog of indecision by providing that guidance people require. This involves knowing the lay of the land yourself and having the vision to share in the first place.
With that vision comes confidence to determine the route ahead and support from those following, who recognise you have the character and ability to drive through the obstacles. So much depends on you as the manager during these turbulent times.
Are you equipped to take the team forward, creating the strategies and actions required to achieve your objectives? Put your lights on, and let others see the direction you are traveling. Their support will encourage you to keep moving forward.
Many managers ask me about how to deal with email overload and we’ve covered that a number of times on our courses and in blogs. But I also get enquiries from people who are paper-holics, unable to tell me the colour of their desk because of the piles of paper they have on it.
So I want to give you some ideas of what to do if you suffer from this. All it takes is the will and the awareness to be organised. Learn More
Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham designed a model that focuses on the notion that certain ways in which a leader designs jobs and projects can be internally motivating to people.
Among other things, they mentioned the following:
* If the manager allows people to tap into a range of skills and capabilities that they have, they are going to be much more motivated than if they only used a narrow range of skills.
* If the manager gives people the opportunity to work on a whole taks from start to finish, they tend to be more motivated than if they only work on a small piece of it.
* If people understand the benefit of a task and the benefit to the organisation as a whole, they are motivated to see the impact their actions will have.
* If people are given some sense of autonomy, if they are given broad objectives and allowed to choose their own path to get there, they tend to have higher intrinsic motivation.
* If the manager gives clear and immediate feedback, people know they’ve actually met the manager’s expectations and feel motivated in continuing to do so.
This isn’t rocket science, but gives a good insight into the kind of things managers can do to enhance the abilities of their people and identifies why sometimes people don’t bring their motivations to the party. People always thrive in challenging, interesting and meaningful environments, so seek out those opportunities to help your people grow.