The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
Is email the greatest technological invention ever? Has anything else since the printing press affected the way that humans communicate with each other so dramatically? Also, has any form of communication in human history ever been so abused?
Before I go off on another rant, let me say that email has revolutionised the way we live our lives, and, mainly, for the better. Learn More
Technology has always advanced quicker than we can keep up with, but the advancement that has been with us for some time and will, for many, be their prime source of communication, is email. We tend to use it so often that we don’t contemplate what its real use should be. Learn More
I was having a chat with one of my team recently and we got onto the subject of best bosses we have ever worked for. Naturally, he said I was one of them (!!), but who else was on his list of excellent bosses?
Well, after we discussed who they were, we jotted down what set them apart as such inspirational leaders, and I offer this list from my scribbled notes:
1) The vision they have for their and the company’s future is inspiring and absorbing. This means their co-workers choose to follow the direction the leader is taking them, rather than feel they have to because they have no choice.
2) They are able to communicate that vision in a way that inspires. It’s one thing to have an inspiring vision; it’s another thing entirely to be able to communicate it in such a way that people follow regardless of your position.
3) They devote themselves to continuous improvement. They may have left school, but they have never left education. Whether it’s in the car, the plane or in their spare time, they are constantly either learning new things or putting those new things into practice.
4) They create a working environment that people look forward to coming to. The environment is the culture they develop every day within the workplace. A leader knows that fun and enjoyment at work are the results of the culture they encourage.
5) They create learning and growing opportunities for all staff, because they recognise that everyone is inspired by developing themselves in a way that makes them feel important and different.
No doubt you can add to this list, and I’d love to hear from you on this subject. Maybe you have found ways to set yourself apart as an inspirational leader and have reaped many rewards. If so, you set yourself apart from the masses and are a great model for others to follow.
What Makes An Ideal Manager?
I’ve asked that question of many people on courses and they all come out with different answers, which is what should be expected. There are so many opinions about this subject, simply because it is so subjective!
However, the truth is when we ask managers and then ask the people who work for them, we get differing answers. But there are some traits that crop up continuously, no matter who you ask, and I discuss some of them here:
• The ideal manager leads by example. They recognise that simply directing or telling will only get short term results at best.
• The ideal manager sets goals with the team in mind. Forcing team members to achieve the unachievable will only cause demotivation and negativity.
• The ideal manager chooses the best style to adopt in the right situation. They choose to direct when in crises, coach when they want to add a challenge, support when necessary and delegate when the right person needs it.
• The ideal manager creates the environment for his team to motivate themselves. They recognise it is impossible to motivate another person if that person chooses not to be motivated
• The ideal manager chooses the best time, place and manner for feedback, recognising that not only is the quality of feedback instrumental in driving performance, but also the feedback is a necessary and influential part of the whole communication process between themselves and their team members
• The ideal manager knows the best way to communicate with their team members. They don’t treat all team members the same but recognise that each one is influenced by the style the manager chooses to adopt in dealings with them
• The ideal manager is inspirational in the way they deal with clients, suppliers, colleagues and their boss. They identify how to deal with every situation in the most effective way and create examples for everyone else to follow.
• The ideal manager knows specifically how to reward and recognise every team members’ contribution to the team effort, and uses every chance to use those reward mechanisms to inspire their team to greater achievements.
• The ideal manager knows that personal development is the key to improving their managerial opportunities, so they consistently and continually look out for ways to improve themselves. At the same time, they model the way they feel their team members can drive their careers forward, sharing examples of how others have inspired them.
This list is only the tip of the iceberg, but it will set you on the path to becoming that ideal manager that every team member would love to work for. Develop your manager qualities with MTD today.
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So, you’ve been promoted to a managerial position for the first time, your name badge is squeaky-clean and everything is bright and new.
Well, that’s the image when you start a new position, isn’t it. Truth is, things don’t always appear as rosy as you’d like them to be. So here are my tips to make an impression as quickly and as early as possible in the new role:
1) Be absolutely clear on what your role is and what it isn’t. This is paramount, especially if you’ve been promoted from within the company. You might feel that you still want to be involved in the old role that you had, and you might be tempted because you are highly-proficient at it. Don’t just rely on your job description to tell you what to do. Get it clear from your boss exactly what the expectations are and how you will be measured.
2) Take responsibility for learning everything you can about being a manager. Don’t expect the company to send you on endless training courses and seminars to get you up to speed with 21st century management techniques. Seek out books, articles, websites, CDs and DVDs that will give you knowledge and ideas about the style of management you need to adopt today and in the future. Don’t rely on other managers to tell you how it is…learn yourself by proactively searching for it.
3) Set your priorities early on. Decide what you will pay attention to most, whether it’s the technical aspects of the role or how your new team need to be communicated with or how to run meetings. Be aware that people will look to you for an example of how things should be done, so ensure you set your priorities early on.
4) Find out what managerial style is most effective for your team. Some team members will be testing you out to see what they can achieve with you. Others may try to get more one-to-one time. Adjust your style accordingly so that you understand how each team member ticks.
5) Balance your managerial responsibilities with your leadership requirements. We manage tasks but we lead people. People don’t want to be managed, though they want to be inspired and motivated so they can achieve and grow. Create the environment so that people can look to you for inspiration and ideas.
6) Don’t be a ‘new broom’ before you’ve determined what is already successful. Some new managers throw everything out and start again, trying to make a personal impression on the company. Instead, learn from what has worked, get your team’s opinions on what needs changing and get them on your side before attempting any changes.
7) Set standards for feedback and feedforward. Tell people exactly how you are going to feed information back to them, so they understand what to expect. If you hide behind memo-heaven, or communicate with everyone only via email, you are in danger of alienating everyone. Be aware of the quality, amount and style of communication that everyone requires from you. Also, practice something called feedforward. This means identifying what results you want from people before it happens, so they understand what their responsibilities are and how it’s going to be measured. They then have the chance to measure their own success at the project before they present it to you. This gives them more opportunities to grow and become accountable for their own work.
Practice these 7 ways when you take your first baby steps as a new manager and you should see your learning curve straighten out in front of you as you make great impressions early on.
Take a moment and write down what you think I mean when I mention the word ‘Quality’.
Go on, get a pen and write down your definition of the word.
Now do the same for the words ‘Customer satisfaction’. Learn More
When I study great communicators from the past, I realise that they have several things in common. That’s good, because it means they follow patterns that can be modeled by others, and that makes it easier for us mere mortals to get it right!
One specific area that great communicators excel at is the ability to get to the root of problems quickly and efficiently, so they can spend time on seeking results and solutions rather than wallowing in the quagmire of disputes, opinions and disagreements. Learn More
How I wish I had a pound for every time a manager has asked me how to motivate people when they don’t have the budget!
It’s as if they think that money is the panacea to everything motivational, that money will create a high performance individual based on the worth they attain with the company.
It’s a shame, because money is really a short-term motivator at best. I often ask managers ‘If you gave your team a 10% pay rise tomorrow, would you see them work 10% smarter to achieve 10% better results?’ The normal answer is no.
So what options do you have if you don’t have the money but still want to drive the team’s motivation forward?
Here are 8 ways:
1) Remember the power of recognition. Find ways to advertise good performance and give them public recognition where you can. This may mean placing results on the intranet or notice boards, telling clients how well they have done, and certainly letting others in the departments share in the pride of good performance. A few pounds spent on an evening out shouldn’t break the bank, and will make the individual feel that they have been recognised for a job well done.
2) Make them feel that their ideas are worth investing in and that the decisions they have come up with will drive the company forward. If they feel they have some autonomy in how their job is structured or how the actual role is carried out, they will always feel that their opinion counts, raising their self-esteem and allowing them to take further risks in suggesting alternatives and new ideas.
3) Whenever you see the opportunity, coach them. Nothing drives an already-motivated team member more than feeling their skills are being utilised and they are growing towards a pre-determined goal. Coaching is the best way yet devised to encourage someone to journey on the road to self-discovery. If they feel they are being coached, that attention and consideration can work wonders for them.
4) Share as much information as possible. Mushroom management (being kept in the dark and fed manure) is the death knell to motivation because people don’t feel part of the organisation and are left feeling they don’t matter. Let them know how the company is doing, what products are being planned, how the competition are having an impact…everything you can to make them feel involved.
5) Be there. Improve your listening skills so the team feel they can approach you without the risk of feeling they are intruding. Be available to them wherever and whenever possible and make it obvious.
6) Be absolutely open and clear about the future. Why is there no budget for bonuses or pay-rises? What does it mean to their long-term future? People will understand why they have to endure no monetary motivation if they are kept in the loop. It’s the not-knowing that cheeses most people off.
7) Be as personable as possible with every team member. You’re all in it together so be aware that if you choose a supportive, coaching style of management, they are more likely to reciprocate and have the sense of belonging that you are wanting.
8 ) Be enthusiastic about your role, even though you might not feel it on the inside. People will look to your example as to how they should feel about things. Motivation is a personal attribute, so show your enthusiasm for what opportunities the future may hold for you and the team
There will still be many managers who feel they can’t motivate without a wad of money to give away, but if you try out some of the ideas above, there may well be some team members who show that money isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. They may actually prove themselves to be even greater assets to you if you approach them from the perspective that growth, recognition, autonomy and responsibility drives people much more effectively than a few extra pounds in their pocket ever will.