The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
So you’ve decided you want to leave your job. OK, it happens. You come to the end of the line. That promotion you thought you’d get never materialised. Your boss is getting on your nerves.
Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to look elsewhere to earn your daily bread. Let me ask you one question: how should your attitude be while you are seeking new employment?
Most people I speak to tell me that they are downcast, weary and depressed while they are winding down and looking for that new post. Can I suggest you choose a different attitude? Learn More
What do we actually mean by conflict? It can range from a difference of opinion right up to a world-war (and everything in between, of course).
Conflict is the end result of a disagreement between two parties. One party things/feels one thing or takes one position, the other sees it from a different perspective.
So what can you do when faced with this situation that might end up with conflict occurring and how can you approach it so it doesn’t get out of hand?
When in confrontation with a person you may be finding difficult to get along with, ask yourself four questions:
#1 How is my personal belief system creating a picture of the situation?
#2 How is his or her personal belief system creating a picture of the situation?
#3 What questions can I ask this person that will clarify my understanding of their version of the truth (their belief system)?
#4 What information can I give that will help them clarify their understanding of my version of the truth (my belief system)?
Now, asking these questions will help you see things from a different perspective, identifying first of all what you are personally gaining from holding your particular point of view.
Then, by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, you identify their perspective, and the quality questions you ask will help you achieve this goal.
By explaining your view to the other person so they can see your view, both of you are now in a position to look for solutions, rather than digging in to you own positions, unwilling to compromise or collaborate with the other.
Following these questions will clarify the disagreement before they become matters of conflict and help you both focus on finding answers because of understanding each others’ views.
Organising your working and personal life is not just important these days…it’s vital.
You simply cannot manage everything you have to without specific skills, and the most pertinent is how you organise your working day.
We are often asked by managers, how do we get our people to think creatively? We all know that creative thinking is a skill or talent that is highly prized, but how exactly do we encourage it?
Good question. I think it all starts with having the environment that encourages creativity in the first place. We all know that when a manager says she wants people to be creative but then negates creative thought by her actions or words, people will freeze when asked for ideas or input. Make sure that your actions back up your words if you want your staff to be creative.
What we find to be the biggest assistance in creative thought is allowing people to take risks. Don’t look for perfect solutions every time. Reports show that Thomas Edison experimented thousands of times before he found the element that allowed the first electric lightbulb to glow. On the way, he discovered explosive mixtures that blew up his laboratory! If he hadn’t taken risks on the journey, you might still be using candles on your desk!
Research shows that creativity is tied to failure. How? Because creative people are productive people. They have many, many ideas. You want people to come up with lots of ideas because the more ideas people come up with, the more innovative the ideas usually are. Why? Because the first ideas are usually conservative. It is only when you get these conservative ideas out of the way that you start coming up with new ideas – ones that haven’t been tried before – ones that are truly innovative.
Edison had ideas that others considered stupid or bad because they were so different from what people had seen before. So, unless risk is encouraged, people aren’t going to offer an idea that is out of the ordinary, or “bad” or “stupid.”
Remember that conformity will kill creativity every time! Yet what do managers and HR people do? Hire for fit, for culture. In other words, they encourage conformity! I know you have to go by the book sometimes, but how can you encourage something that your culture doesn’t reward?
You might think a person doesn’t have the education or background to be creative. But that attitude will stifle creativity right from the outset. By allowing diversity, you allow creativity.
So how do you motivate people to think creatively? Remember, the best rewards are those that truly motivate the person being rewarded to do the behaviour that you want. If you want increased innovation, then you need to use rewards that have a history of working for creative people.
Try rewarding the behaviours you want by giving people some control over what they work on. Give them a few hours a week or a day or two each month to work on a project that is important to them. And then give them resources for that project – a budget, technology, software, space. The project may be something that you can encourage them in using creative thought. Get them to bounce ideas around. Let the person have full responsibility for it, without inhibitions.
This environment will encourage creative thought and innovation, almost without them knowing it. At least it will change their attitude and actually make them more productive, even increasing their motivation along the way. You never know, the project may even be of major benefit to your department or company!
So, if you want people to find their creativity, create opportunities for them to do so. They might surprise you!
You know the story…you’re right in the middle of something, and then a problem comes out of left-field. How do you react? How you face problems is one of the critical factors that helps determine how successful you will be as a manager.
Many managers panic or resist problems, thinking that by ignoring it or passing it on, somehow it’s solved. Firstly, assume there is an answer out there… it just needs to be found. Worrying about it gets you nowhere; working towards the answer will get you everywhere. I’m not just referring to being positive, but the state of mind you decide to choose will play a big part in the way the problem will be handled.
Now, ask yourself ‘what are the facts?’. Many problems are not as big as they seem at first, once everything is known. Also, facts will help you find a better solution, faster. Knowing this is the next step allows you to think logically about the situation. If you encounter a problem, simply begin asking questions and gather the facts. Sometimes you have dig to get to the real problem! This is where your quality questioning comes in.
As a manager, sometimes you get involved in situations that don’t need too much of your time. You might be able, having summarised exactly what the situation is, to put the problem back to someone else or identify how it can be dealt with in a different way. If you are the best person to deal with it, think of what you, personally can do to deal with it. Brainstorm some ideas. Expand your thinking to identify what alternatives you might have
Consider what research you might do to solve the problem- maybe the internet could help, asking other people, or reading how others have solved the problem might help. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know it all, and that your first instinct for an answer is necessarily the best. Bounce your ideas off other people, even if you think they know less on the subject. Sometimes the more you know, the more you can overlook the obvious.
Finally, make your decision, and put it into action. Think short-term as well as long. Follow through properly. Allow yourself the time to pick the right solution and set milestones to measure its effectiveness. Monitor those solutions and make sure you have some contingencies, just in case.
By following logical steps, you identify what progress you can make with specific problems and will soon have them under control.
When you delegate tasks to your teammate, you should also be delegating the autonomy and ownership of that task to them. If you don’t, maybe because you have worries about how they might complete it, you undermine the value of their work and send messages of mistrust.
First of all, think of the benefits of allowing your team member to take on more responsibility… They will take greater pride in the work and its success…They will work smarter and more productively…They will use more of their creativity…And they will learn more ideas for the future
So, how do you create ownership and allow them to flourish in their new-found responsibility?
Here are some ideas…
Show them the Big Picture: This lets people feel confident and create the best results. If you do this, they will know how this project or task relates to the bigger goals. Make sure they know how their success will impact others or the organisation, and your customers.
Take a step back. Difficult, I know, but essential. If you want people to have ownership, you have to give it to them. If you want others to own a project or task, you have to turn it over to them, and let them do it. Also, when you have mentally let go of the project or task, it’s easier to concentrate on the things you need to do.
Support. Once you have delegated, you then support. Be there to guide but not direct. Be a facilitator to. If it is their responsibility, they need to own it – if you rescue them by taking it back, you destroy their confidence and show them through your actions (however well intentioned) that they never owned it to start with.
Don’t tell them the answers: When you have handed off the project, people will have questions. You will want to answer their questions, but resist. Ask them how they will solve their challenge, rather than solving it for them. Listen carefully (an important part of your support) and help when needed, but talk less and listen more.
Talk about the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’: By telling them how the job should be done, you chip away at their creativity. Besides, you want them to own the journey as well as the end destination. So if you have an idea of how it should be done, let your teammate find or discover it, rather than show them.
Remember; what you’re trying to create are partners in the problem-solving journey. By allowing them to own the task, you get more commitment.
This is very different from them simply doing a task because you didn’t want to do it. Think of delegating tasks that will develop their skills and thinking abilities. That way, the pride in commitment grows and the instilling of ownership flourishes
How to be a manager you can be proud of. When you read that title, did you think, ‘Yeah, easier said than done!’
Well, when you know exactly what your employees are looking for, there’s no reason why it can’t be within your grasp. Here are some ideas:
1. Let your team actively participate in team goals and objectives. Look for every opportunity to include your employees in being active participants in goal-setting. Most delegates on our courses tell us it’s normally just one-way…downwards. Keep your team members involved and there’s a good chance they will be more committed to those goals.
2. Allow employees to suggest better ways of getting their jobs done. Ask each person for suggestions for other ways of getting the task or project accomplished. Listen and be willing to really hear their comments. Team members often state that they have no input and are told exactly how to perform their jobs, leaving no creativity.
3. Provide positive reinforcement. Always listen and acknowledge your employees. They often report that their decisions and actions are second-guessed and that most, if not all, feedback given is negative.
4. Clearly delegate responsibility and give your employees authority along with the responsibility. Do you give inconsistent messages? Do you ask the employee to handle a problem or project and then give them negative feedback. Employees often say that they are given tasks and then told they did it wrong.
5. Be clear in your communication. When you express goals or explain projects, be sure each individual on the team really understands what you are asking. Often, the goals are unclear and they are not sure what they are being asked to do.
6. Show you have trust in your employees. Allow them to make mistakes as a form of learning. Show that it is really OK to make mistakes. Let them know you really support their decisions. Otherwise, they fear that someone is always looking over their shoulder to make sure they do things right.
7. Listen Actively. Do you do most of the talking? Employees sometimes say that conversations are one way, comprised mostly of their ideas being criticised. They don’t feel they are heard.
8. Be interested in the career development of each team member. Meet with your staff and discover their goals and their wants. Team members often report that their goals are not viewed as important in the organisation.
If you are able to convince your team members you have their best interests at heart, you have a great chance of being that manager you (and your team) can be proud of!
One of the most important things you can do to help your business succeed and your employees motivated is to use encouragement. Other expressions that mean the same as encourage are “Give Confidence, Cheer, Support”.
Many managers seem to think that the salary should be encouragement enough. But you should be thinking better than that.
Think of ways that you can give your employees more support and give them more confidence:
How about recognising them for a job well-done? For many, that is all they need to feel encouraged. If you are genuine in your appreciation, and choose it for the right moment, it can work wonders. A simple but honest appreciative remark can go a very long way.
Become aware of what hobbies and interests your employees have. Then when you are out and about and see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them. Coming into the office and saying “I really appreciate what you do, and I got this for you as a small token of my appreciation,” will make them feel they are recognised for a great job! It doesn’t have to cost the earth! Just a token. But the thought it evokes will make a real difference.
Be sure to say “Thanks.” No matter what, always be sure to say thank you to those who work for you. Yes they work for pay, but it always helps to know that their work is recognised.
And if you are going to praise, don’t just leave it till you’re on your own with the employee. Find an opportunity when they are with their co-workers, and your praise will create a buzz! Make sure it’s genuine and specific for the task carried out, or the employee might be seen by their colleagues as a ‘favourite’.
Encouraging your employees will increase their morale and help them see how they can improve their quality, as they will always strive for improvement when they are recognised.