The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
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.
A key task that you as a manager can always improve in is that of creating a vision that will inspire your team.
An inspiring vision should not just be left to the senior management team to develop. It’s something that will drive and motivate your small team as well, no matter what position you hold within the organisation. It must be clear and inspiring, enabling and practical. Here are some tips you can use to develop your own vision with your own team:
Ensure you develop your vision with your team members in mind, and believe in it yourself! Make it realistic and make it personal and practical.
As with a satellite navigational system, you need to put the end destination in first before you can determine where you are now. Then you decide on the link between the two positions. Only then can you see the steps that need to be taken to bridge the gap.
Get support from higher management for your vision. Without that, you face an upwards struggle and obstacles when you need to gain commitment from the budget-holders.
Next, think about how you are going to communicate the vision and what the medium of communication will be. Will you launch it at a big open meeting? A series of smaller meetings? One-on-Ones? A mixture of all of these? Whatever you decide, make sure everyone understands it, and what their role is in it.
Be available at all times to talk individually to everyone if they have any questions or queries about the application of the vision.
Make sure everyone has the help they need to build the skills to participate in the vision.
Set milestones along the route so everyone knows how they are doing against the planned journey. Help everyone to buy-in to the journey.
Keep an eye open for anyone who tries, meaningfully or not, to sabotage the journey on the route to the vision. These negative people may impact the rest, so keep them under your wing and offer support at all times.
Ensure you mention the vision and the goals often, so everyone can see how committed you are to achieving it.
Live it yourself, so all team members can follow your lead and example every step of the way.
Celebrate achieving goals along the way. The vision is the journey and everyone must see the rewards if they are to maintain momentum on the journey. Keep it clear and motivational, and you will reap the rewards of teamwork, positivity, motivation and drive.
One of the biggest complaints that managers have is the amount of work they have to do.
Many feel simply overwhelmed, and stressed out. But when we see surveys of how these managers actually use their time, we often find that the biggest culprit is the allowing of interruptions to fill their otherwise important time schedule. Learn More
Have you ever agreed to a staff request for a higher salary on the basis that it would encourage and motivate them to work harder and smarter, then find that it didn’t have the desired effect?
Even though many people will say that money is their key motivator, it’s surprising how little real difference it makes to attitude and motivation. Frederick Hertzberg said that money is a ‘hygiene factor’; that is, it acts as a demotivator if it’s lacking, but only a short-term motivator at best when it is given as a reward.
More times than not, what is more important to staff are such intangibles as being appreciated for the work they’ve done, being kept informed about things that affect them and having a sympathetic manager who takes time to listen to them. None of these intangibles are very costly, but they all do take the time and thoughtfulness of a manager who cares.
How can you provide frequent and personal rewards that are aimed at not just improving their job satisfaction, but also allow the individual to tap into their creativity and actually enjoy the rewards of working?
Take time to find out what specifically motivates and excites each of your team members. Personalised motivation seems to gain more response because people like to feel that they are getting individual attention, rather than just being part of a team effort.
When one of your employees has put in extra effort on a key project or achieved a goal you had mutually set, immediately recognise the achievement in a unique, memorable way. You will find that the more creative and unique you are with the reward, the more fun it will be for the employee, yourself and others in the organisation.
I heard of one manager who wrote to a team member’s family, telling them of his achievement. It was received very well at his home, as his family realised how much he was appreciated at work.
Another company had their MD sit down once a month with the employee of the month, at a special lunch, and discuss how the employee had contributed to the success of the company with their attitude and achievements. The employee always felt respected and honoured to have that privilege.
If you work in a large organisation, drop your CEO or COO a quick email outlining what the employee has achieved, and ask them to give the employee a call to congratulate them.
If the team member has a specific hobby, maybe buy a small gift that relates to that hobby. That would be received far better than the equivalent amount of money in their pay packet.
I heard of one manager who treated staff members to a complete valet of their car, inside and out, in recognition of great performance. It showed how important the little things were to that company.
If the budget stretches that far, take the team out for a special lunch to say thanks for all their efforts. Join them on an evening event, like a trip to the theatre or bowling. Not only will it build the team up, but they will also feel recognised for the role they play.
Have an ‘Excellence Day’ where team members show their skills at their favourite hobby. Create a fun day so that everyone can share their skill and knowledge. Devise a fun quiz and then order lunch in, so everyone can enjoy contributing and gaining at the same time.
These ideas and hundreds of others like them are limited only by your imagination, time and creativity. Not only will such rewards uniquely single out exceptional employees, they will create a positive story that the employees will tell to others time and time again. Friends, family and colleagues will get to hear about each individual’s achievement and what the company did to celebrate it, and the employee will get to relive the recognition many times.
Rewarding employees for exceptional work they’ve done is critical to keeping them motivated to want to continue to do their best. Although money is important, you can potentially get even more benefit from such personal, creative and fun forms of recognition as discussed above. Try such rewards for yourself to see the pride, enthusiasm, fun and motivation that can be generated.
You’re the manager. The buck stops with you. But that doesn’t mean you have to be the one to do it all.
England’s cricket captain, Andrew Strauss, in their glorious Ashes performance in Australia (OK, I just had to get that one in!) was very quick to place the reason for the team’s success on the quality of his team. It wasn’t a one-man-band, by any stretch of the imagination. When one man failed, another stood up to take the helm.
And when it comes to delegating responsibility, that’s the attitude we need to take. Management is a team game and if you don’t rely on team-members to get things done, what’s the point in having a team in the first place?
Here are some tips about how to approach the business of delegating that will save your time and get you the help you need:
* Ask for help, don’t demand that they do the task. It will create a better frame of mind in the person being delegated to
* Make sure the person has a clear picture of the purpose of any delegated work and knows what kind of results you expect. Take the time to talk it through, explaining specifically what you’re looking for.
* Give the person all the information and other resources they’ll need to complete the project.
* Set a realistic deadline that’s agreeable and workable for both of you.
* Keep yourself available for questions, and when necessary ask for periodic progress reports.
* Don’t assume a person will be able to complete a delegated task without any additional help or assistance from you.
* Give the person the opportunity to be use their creativity and imagination and take the initiative.
* Keep track of the delegated work, creating deadlines and milestones so you both can keep up to date
* When the project has been completed, give lots of praise and credit for a job well done.
Delegating effectively should produce dual results: The job is completed on time by a person whose skills have been developed and improved, and you have had some time to get on with work that only you can do, to the betterment of all involved.
Delegating is a skill you should learn to develop effectively. If you do, like Andrew Strauss, you will reap the rewards of a great team effort.
Do you remember the best boss you ever had?
No doubt they got results and were good communicators. But the best bosses are those we remember for emotional reasons – how they made us feel about our jobs, the company and ourselves. In other words, they were inspirational.
How do we become the type of boss who inspires others and make them feel good about themselves? Here are some ideas: Learn More
So it’s the new year and it’s a good opportunity to take stock of where you are now and where you want to be in 12 months’ time.
Many people shun new year resolutions because they normally are made without any planning and last for only a short time. But there is something you can resolve to do that will make a real difference to your year and last a lot longer than an ill-thought-out, quick resolution.
The best thing you can do this year is look after your own career prospects.
Why is that? Because you can be totally in control, you get to choose the direction and you get to see the results.
This year, take a good look at the direction your job is taking you. As yourself:
“Have I got to where I hoped to in my career progression? Have I achieved what I have set out to do? What direction can I plan for 2011 to take me?”
This could imply long-term planning, and that’s sometimes better than planning to lose weight or give something up. It requires you to take stock of where you are now, where you want to go and what the rewards will be for it.
There is a saying that goes; “In one, three or five years, you will end up somewhere. The question is, is it where you want to be?”
You can control the direction you end up going. It’s your career, your future. Now is a good time to make those plans for your own personal development and ensure they end up going in the direction you want. Plan immediately for how you’re going to make this year a successful one for you and your team.
From myself and my team at MTD; A very happy, prosperous, safe and successful 2011.