The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
Francis Bacon wrote, “Reading makes a full man” and Emerson wrote, “It’s a good reader that makes a good book”.
Reading is one of the core skills of any good communicator. Our trainers will often ask delegates how many books have they got in their personal library, and they are often surprised by how few books on the subject of management or leadership the delegates have got.
Reading is listening in action, giving you time to give thoughtful attention to what the author is suggesting and helps you remain open to everything that is being offered. It helps your creative juices, because it opens up opportunities you hadn’t considered before.
To decide what your reading requirements are, go to the core of your job; what are you actually paid to do? Then ask yourself:
What must I read to keep up-to-date with current initiatives and ideas within my industry?
What should I read?
What might I read?
An IT consultant, for example, must read certain journals, magazines and books to keep abreast of new developments. They should read certain articles about related fields, like new software developments. They might read items about wider-ranging possibilities, such as the future role of IT in business.
Ask yourself what you need to, or must, read to do your job adequately and to improve in your role. Does your reading list match this? And if you say you don’t have the time, think how much time you spend commuting on the train or in the car. If you travel by train, put the paper down and read an article about your field. If driving to work, hire or buy CDs that relate to your field and listen to them.
What have you read in the last six months that has led to you improving your existing job?
Think of your current job as a short-term contract. As well as fulfilling today’s role, you ought to be thinking about preparing for tomorrow’s job, developing your future capability as well as your current competence. And reading stores of information and ideas is an important element in that process of self-development and self-education.
Managers know that they need to keep their employees’ motivation high, or else there may be performance problems. But many people ask me how they can motivate the de-motivated. And they also ask why there is still poor motivation even though they have tried all the motivation theories taught out there.
There are, however, challenges when it comes to motivating others, and many managers make common mistakes when they try to motivate. Are you making some of these motivation mistakes?
1) Thinking that everyone is motivated by the same things that motivate you. You may be driven by achieving targets, hitting objectives or attaining goals, but these are company goals and many people, when you ask them, deep down care for many other things before they think of the company.
2) Thinking that offering money as an incentive should motivate people. Extra money may be a motivator in the short term, but most team members will view it as a reward for work already completed, rather than an incentive for future performance.
3) Thinking that everyone should be motivated by the same thing. You may offer a reward for the whole team for achieving a performance goal. Then you may be puzzled because some really go for it and some don’t. The truth is that motivation is individual, and a team goal may be good for some, while others feel they they need something else to drive them forward
4) Thinking that external motivators should work all the time. Actually, it’s the internal drivers (or intrinsic motivators) that persuade someone to carry out a task. External motivators (e.g. money, responsibility, recognition, status, better company car, promotion) may work for some, for some time, but it’s the internal motivators (e.g. pride in the job, achievement, growth) that really drive a person to do something because they really want to.
Motivation has to be dealt with on a personal basis, and no two people will have the same drive for motivation, simply because no two people have the same conditioning, responsibilities, resources, needs, desires, background or life circumstances outside of work. Keep you eyes open for what motivates a team member and then supply more of it, if you can.
Richard Branson once said “No-one has ever accused us of lagging behind. In fact, I’m willing to turn an entire company upside down if it’s time to do that. We’re in perpetual evolution”.
I believe that unless a business is in perpetual evolution, it isn’t going anywhere. If you maintain the status quo, other businesses will quickly overtake you.
But what if you have to turn your business around quickly, for fear of going under? What can you do to increase your chances of success?
Here’s some ideas that will lay the foundation and make it happen:
* Be certain that people within the business know the problems that must be overcome and the actions to be taken. Now is not the time to cover up
* Concentrate on your clear diagnosis of the problem and ensure you’ve set the time aside to execute the actions
* When you make the decisions, make sure they are ones that everyone understands and so can support
* Start the programme by getting the key 20-25% of people on board
* When you have decided on the strategy, the aims, the objctives and the teams, delegate to people who are in the know and whom you can trust
* Remove any obstacles, simplify the structures that will support the changes, increase the speed of change and implement a few action steps
* Measure results and, above all, keep everyone informed on developments
No two programmes will be the same, but if you identify the best way forward for all concerned, you will be able to get through the trying times and look ahead to better times as things pick up.
I had a question asked of me recently that had me stop and think, because it probably applies to many managers these days.
As business improves and we think either of expanding our business with our current people, or contemplate taking new people on, the aspect of job descriptions is often raised, and I’m aware that few, if any, managers get training on how to set up, update and maintain job descriptions. The manager who asked the question admitted that it had been ove
r four years since he looked at the job descriptions of his team and he wondered if there was some guidance I could give him. Well, here are some tips: Learn More
A business case sets out the reasons why a particular course of action will benefit the business, how it will provide that benefit and at what cost. Your business case should be made either in value-added terms (how much extra you will get over the cost of implementing it) or on the basis of return of investment (the cost of implementation is justified by the financila returns you will recieve, like increased productivity) Learn More
Let me ask you a question. Work out the answer before reading on: How many days are left until January 1st next year? Go and work out the answer now. Then read on. Learn More
Many managers tell me that the level of trust that exists in the team could be better. They often quote some of the main behaviours that reduce trust within a team, which include:
* Sending mixed messages of inconsistency
* Being more concerned about their own wellbeing than that of others
* Avoiding taking responsibility for actions
* Jumping to conclusions without checking facts first
* Hiding or withholding information that would be of benefit to others
Here’s an exercise to help you begin the dialogue about the level of trust within your team.
Put the following words on a blank sheet of paper, well spaced out:
Prepare one sheet for each team member.
Ask each person to select three words that best describes your team and circle them.
Ask them to anonymously give the paper to you.
Count up the words that have been circled.
Post the results.
Lead a team meeting on the words receiving the most votes, and those receiving fewer or no votes.
If there are negative words on the list, discuss the word they would rather use to replace the negative one.
Discuss changes needed to aspire to the desired state within the team.
If you carry out this exercise purposefully and honestly, you build the relationship in the team and get them to identify how trust can be generated. Merely having the discussion can often help alleviate a lot of the problems associated with lack of trust. And if the team themselves work toward curbing the negatives that reduce trust, you form greater ties with them and will see the rewards of trust in the results you obtain.