The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
We go through life sometimes with our heads spinning, and often feel like a hamster on one of the wheels in a cage. We climb the ladder of success, rung by rung, step by step, only to find when we reach the top that it’s been leaning against the wrong wall.
When you look back over your managerial career, what will you say? What will you see? I often discuss this question with managers I meet and am surprised by the similarities in thought.
When you are manager of a team of people, you carry a heavy responsibility to create an environment for them to perform at their best. If you’re not getting the best out of them, ask yourself how much of the blame you personally have to accept for the results.
Are you helping your team members achieve to the level they know is possible? Do you assist them in building a team culture where they really want to contribute to its success?
Here’s my take on the steps you can implement to achieve a high-performing culture:
• Decide with the team how you are going to build a high-performance culture. Discuss with each team member what they expect from you on a day-to-day basis
• Provide clear expectations and priorities for teamwork and discuss how great team behaviour can be exhibited daily
• Help team members to gain a sense of ownership by sharing the group’s goals, such as productivity, costs, schedule, customer service, production quotas, etc. Let team members help you in tracking what is important progress measurements
• Let team members help in problem-solving. If you deal with other departments, help team members set up cross-departmental improvement groups to ascertain how each department can assist each other
• Let team members have input to agendas for team meetings and have the chance to lead the meetings at times
• If you have a new account or new project, solicit the help of team members in detailing what direction they should take to make the project a success. The more ownership they have of results, the committed they feel to making it work
• Keep lines of communication open. Include team members in plans, processes, results, challenges and project development. Let them see customer feedback. Highlight the relationships with other departments. Tell them what higher management strategies mean to them as a team. Communicate the state of the business, and the part they can play in it.
• Encourage a team ‘code of conduct’ that will develop a team ethos for working together. Ask them what they think a professional team would look like. See if you can get a short film of a Formula One pit-stop team working together. What do they need to do to produce such stunning results? How much do they rely on each other? What can they learn from the pit-stop team that would work in their situation?
• Provide good coaching sessions to each team member so that they feel part of the development of the team and can contribute to their team’s multi-skilling opportunities
If you are able to nurture your team to accept responsibility for the results they achieve, you create a culture of belief in them that will help them go from strength to strength and build a firm foundation for excellence in all they do.
I’ve had a couple of chats with some business colleagues and it has surprised me how little thye knew about the new Bribery Act that came into force in April 2011.
In fact one of them hadn’t actually heard of it, which may be worrying because it states that companies need to adopt a policy to ensure that bribery does not take place, as doing nothing can mean jail for the directors concerned.
There are many obstacles to effective teamwork. If you have problems encouraging your team to work together effectively and have challenges helping people reach their full potential, here are some ideas you might want to try:
First, make sure you create clear goals for the team. Team members have to believe their journey embodies a worthwhile or important result. If they appreciate these goals, it will help them put personal concerns on the back burner in favour of team goals. Get them committed to the team’s goals and they will understand the importance of the role they play together.
Next, help them to build mutual trust. This takes a long time, but is worth it. Keep team members informed of decisions made higher up…they will appreciate being kept in the loop. Be open with your communication in all matters. Be approachable and available. Show consistency in all you do, and be dependable and honest.
Then, provide necessary support. This means providing the resources to help the team achieve their goals. If resources don’t allow them to carry out their responsibilities, how to you think theu are going to react when you ask them to up their game?
Then, Offer team development opportunities. Talk about how the team can expand in its operation. Coach and support them in their achievements. Thinks about what training people need to achieve their end goals.
Finally, create performance agreements. Expectations must be clearly determined and explicitly agreed. You can do this by foloowing these ideal steps:
1) Agree desired results. Identify what needs to be done and by when
2) Specify guidelines. This means deciding on standards of behaviour that will achieve results
3) Establish resource requirements. Make sure everyone has what they need to produce results
4) Establish standards of performance. Help people become accountable for their own results
5) Asign consequences. Let people know what the results will be through performance evaluations
Clear, mutual understandings of what you are all trying to achieve provides a common vision of desired results and creation of standards against which team members can measure their own success. Team members who buy into performance agreements usually take personal responsibility for their own performance.
We had beautiful weather in our part of the world during April. May hasn’t been as good, but we still had some sun and it’s definitely warming up.
Before you check to see if you’ve accidentally stumbled on the weather blog(!) can I just say that my purpose isn’t to give you small-talk or just converse about my sun-tan! No, actually, the weather got me out in the garden tending to my plants and the grass, and it reminded me of how we as managers play an important part in the development of our staff.
You see, as a gardener, I plant, nurture, tend and develop my seedlings into wonderful, colourful blooms. Without my help, they will still grow, but maybe not to their full potential. I put some liquid food onto some of my plants and have already seen excellent results, much better than expected.
I also decided this year to use better quality compost than I did last year, and have spent more time feeding and nurturing them.
How does this apply to us as managers?
Well, think of the soil as the environment in which you grow your people. What quality atmosphere do you create at work for them? Do you plant the seeds of doubt in their mind as to the quality of work they’re producing, or do you encourage their growth and achievement with praise and recognition for what they do?
How about as they are growing towards potential? How do you support that growth? The liquid food I referred to is the opportunity they have to expand and create, using initiative and resourcefulness. Whatever you feed and nurture becomes their natural way of working.
As a gardener would tend to their plants, you as a manager should be seen to be tending to the growth of your team members. By delegating responsibility, by coaching their skills, by training their development, by encouraging their achievements, you build their confidence and their willingness to succeed, along with their motivation to progress.
Think of yourself as a gardener and your team as your plants to nurture. Storms may come and go and the quality of the soil may be severely tested at times, but the hardy plants will always survive to fight another day. By creating the foundation for your team to grow, you offer opportunities for them to achieve more and better results. And you’ll receive the accolades of others as they see your team bloom to full potential!
I’m delighted to let you know that we now have our own channel on youtube!
We’ve currently got 20 short training tips on the channel, with more being uploaded every week.
So when you need a quick dose of training in specific subjects, hop over to our MTD channel and download one of our programmes.
With subjects like The Seven Deadly Sins of Emails, Running Effective Meetings, Effective Listening Skills, How to use the 7S Model, and many more, it’s a goldmine of bite-sized information that can be viewed whenever you have a few spare moments.
Watch out for new titles every week!
Most people you meet will have a different way of seeing things to you. How they make decisions, solve problems, assimilate information, etc., will be different to you becasue they will have preferences that don’t match yours. When you recognise these different thinking patterns, you can improve communication, management, leadership and decision-making to improve all aspects of interpersonal skills.
Ned Herrmann has designed a technique called ‘whole-brain modelling’ in which he describes the brain as an interconnected set of mental processing modes, or thinking styles. Because these styles originate in different parts of the brain, he discusses how we all differ in the way we think things through. Learn More