The Management Blog

Tips & advice to help you improve your performance


Management Blog

Making Effective Decisions For Your Team

Problem-solving and decision-making are two of the most effective skills you can develop as a manager.

When you think about it, what are you doing most of the day, other than solving problems and making decisions?

So what parameters might you be working under and how can you start making effective decisions with your team? Learn More

Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions Of A Team

One of the most interesting models of team effectiveness was developed by Patrick Lencioni (2005). According to him, all teams have the potential to be dysfunctional. To improve the functioning of a team, it is critical to understand the type and level of dysfunction. Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory (1954), there are five levels and each must be completed to move on to the next one.

Here are five potential dysfunctions of a team in Lencioni’s model: Learn More

How To Think Outside The Box In Business

As a manager, we are often asked to think ‘outside the box’ to find answers to questions that stump us. The question I often ask is ‘how do I think outside the box?’

Well, I came across an interesting study recently by Hudson (1967), who studied thinking in schools and concluded that there were two different forms of thinking or ability at play. He called one form “convergent” thinking, in which the person is good at bringing material from a variety of areas, in such a way as to produce the “correct” answer. This is helpful if you are trying to get just one answer to a problem, and you are plainly just interested in facts.

The other he termed “divergent” thinking. Here is where the thinking out of the box idea can be loosely developed, because the person’s skill is in broadly creative expansion of ideas prompted by an outside stimulus.

In order to get at this kind of thinking, Hudson devised open-ended tests, such as the “Uses of Objects” test:

Here are five everyday objects. Think of as many different uses as you can for each:

* A barrel

* A paper clip

* A tin of shoe polish

* A brick

* A blanket

There’s no time limit to this, but allow around 15 minutes

Your list will test your divergent style of thinking, sometimes linked to brainstorming, and will allow you to generate many ideas. In business, you can highlight a particular problem and then identify many possible options (divergent thinking). You can then assess the quality of them and hone in on the best ones (convergent thinking). It will allow you to think differently, expand your options and gain answers that maybe you hadn’t thought of before.

(My thanks to JS Atherton (2010) and his article ‘Learning and Teaching; Convergent and Divergent Learning’ for further information on this topic)

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Management Blog Call To Action

How To Generate Creative Ideas Through Brainstorming

This is a great idea if you want to generate ideas quickly. It encourages divergent thinking among your team, as they collectively address issues facing your company.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure it works effectively: Learn More

Effective Motivation Through Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory of motivation explains how people make decisions regarding various behavioral alternatives. Expectancy theory offers the following propositions: Learn More

Using The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Leadership Continuum

The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum levels help us determine at what levels we should delegate authority to our team members.

It all depends on their aptitude, competency and motivation, but if we get the level of delegation right, we can achieve great results and encourage our team members to take on more responsibilities.

Here are the levels that Tannenbaum and Schmidt covered: Learn More

Focus On Results Not Activity

What’s your main purpose in managing? After many years of deliberation, I believe it comes down to one main thing: the results or outcomes you achieve.

Many managers we meet put a lot of emphasis on the activity they and their teams carry out. This is all well and good, but what, exactly, are you hoping to achieve? Being very busy, but not achieving much, doesn’t help anyone.

So you need to prioritise and focus your energy and planning on results. Ask yourself, What is meant to be the result of the work done by my department? What differences should we be making, and how will we measure them? Learn More

Why Consistency Is Crucial To Your Management Success

On a recent management course we were running, the discussion revolved around the key skills managers need to make an impact in today’s working environment. One delegate suggested consistency in approach. But another delegate thought it would stifle creativity if a manager tried to be consistent.

I thought about this and have come up with a few benefits of management consistency:

1) Consistency reduces confusion and uncertainty within the team. If your team wonder how you are going to respond to various ideas and issues, you create an atmosphere of doubt and people will think twice about airing thoughts that might be more creative because of concern about your reaction

2) Being consistent brings the perception of who you are and who others think you are closer together. This means people are able to trust you and understand your reactions if there’s a difference of opinion

3) Consistency helps you to ‘walk your talk’. It improves and highlights your personal brand and helps people recognise who you are and the standards you aim for

4) Consistency enables your team to support you in your decision-making. Knowing how you will respond will allow team members to have confidence in approaching you and supporting the way you deal with problems

5) Consistency can still encourage creativity. It just means that in situations that require you to make decisions, people know where they stand with you and can predict your behavioural styles

So, there’s no doubt that people can build their trust in you when you are consistent in your approach and a level of understanding not found where inconsistency is rife.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Management Blog Call To Action