The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
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.
If your business is selling retail items, you no doubt have seen the figures that create links between customer satisfaction and loyalty.
But what about employee loyalty? What about the measurements you use to test how loyal your staff are to your company? This interesting quote by Frederick Reichheld compares the relationship between employee loyalty and customer loyalty… Learn More
I came across this quote from Colin Powell, the ex-Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, in America some time ago:
“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
How would you measure up in your business against this benchmark set by General Powell? There are two facets of leadership this brings into question.
Firstly, how do you as manager or director encourage your people to communicate with you? Are your communication lines so difficult to get through that people have long given up trying to discuss everyday problems and challenges with you? Or do you welcome opportunities to deal with challenges in such a way that your team is motivated to approach you in times of pressure?
Secondly, many businesses see the act of asking for help as a weakness, and so do not welcome challenges being aired. This corporate culture can severely weaken the company, as people cover up the gaps that might exist. If you want to encourage your people to see you as a leader, make yourself accessible and available.
Powell talked about creating an environment in your department where problem analysis and decision-making replaced the blame culture that exists in many businesses. This isn’t easy, but, when done sufficiently well, will motivate staff to see you as an effective leader and encourage them to approach you rather than backing off. Prove to your people that they can trust you, and that you do care; then you’ll see the whole culture of your department thrive.