The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
What are the characteristics of High-Performing teams?
Many companies have asked us to help build efficiencies and effectiveness within their teams, and we have noticed key similarities between the most successful ones. Here is our list of characteristics of team that tend to do well in all sorts of organisations: Learn More
Many managers practice strategic planning because it offers a clear vision and direction for their department. It’s necessary because, without it, you are driving in the dark with no lights. You’ll get to your destination, maybe, but it will be difficult and take a lot of effort and concentration.
So why should strategic planning be on your list of priorities?
Strategic planning serves a variety of purposes. Here are some of them:
1. It clearly defines the purpose of your business and establishes goals and objectives consistent with that purpose within a stated time frame
2. It allows you to communicate those goals and objectives to the stakeholders.
3. It helps you develop a sense of ownership of the plan.
4. You get the most effective use of your resources by focusing them on the key priorities.
5. You provide a base for measurable progress and establish a process for change when needed.
6. You can listen to everyone’s opinions and build a natural journey towards success for your department
7. You provide a clearer focus for your department, producing more efficiency and effectiveness.
8. It creates a link in working practices between the team and higher management.
9. It develops cohesion between all team members.
10. Everyone sings the same vision statement from the same song-sheet.
11. It increases productivity because of effective goal channeling.
12. It helps solve most major directional inefficiencies in the business.
So there’s many reasons why strategic planning helps you in the short and long-run.
Here’s what you should consider when you are making the strategy:
Mission and Objectives
This is your business vision, including your values and purposes and visionary goals that drive you forward.
You can then perform an industry analysis using a framework like Michael Porter’s five forces.
Then you can match your strengths to the opportunities identified in Porter’s analysis, while addressing its weaknesses and external threats.
To get greater profitability, you seek to develop a competitive advantage. This can be based on cost or differentiation. Michael Porter identified three industry-independent generic strategies from which the firm can choose.
The strategy is then implemented through a series programs, budgets, and procedures. You need to look at your resources and motivation of staff to achieve your objectives.
Evaluation & Control
When you put the strategy into operation it must be monitored and adjustments made as needed.
Take these steps when you evaluate and control:
1. Define parameters to be measured
2. Define target values for those parameters
3. Perform measurements
4. Compare measured results to the pre-defined standard
5. Make necessary changes
When all these have been done satisfactorily, you are well on your way to achieving the goals of strategic planning, and giving yourself and your team the opportunities to achieve the objectives you have aimed for.
In a previous blog, we spoke of the barriers that exist when you are listening to another person. We know that listening is a key skill that great communicators have mastered, so it’s good to address the issues that occur in listening, and see what we can do about them. Learn More
Recruit in haste, repent in leisure! That’s certainly very true when you need new people in your team. When you are looking for a new person, it can be tempting to just place an ad or ask for resumes to be sent in from your favourite job websites. But there’s a better way to plan for new recruits, and a little time well-spent now will reap greater rewards later. Here are some ideas to kick-start your recruitment process: Learn More
Have you ever been interrupted? Hah, silly question!
How do you feel when it happens? Most people say they feel frustrated and disrespected by the other person. Psychologically, their self-worth goes down, as they feel the other person cares more about their own point of view than yours. And you know how you feel when you’re around a person who dominates the conversation, thinking that everyone is hanging on their every word, when the reality is often quite a lot different! Learn More
When should you lead and when should you manage?
This age-old question has been asked by many people on our programmes.
Our short answer is…it depends on the situation. Whether you show adequate leadership skills or display excellent management abilities will be determined by the results you are trying to achieve. Management and leadership are like different sides of the same coin, and it’s vital that you choose wisely, or you may be looking at the wrong side. Here’s some thoughts of how to differentiate between the two:
A manager thinks short term, tactically, a leader has a longer term, more strategic focus.
A manager plans how and when, a leader asks “what?” and “how?”
A manager looks at the bottom line, a leader looks to the horizon.
A manager knows the business, a leader knows the customer.
A manager focuses on improving existing products and processes, a leader focuses on the new product and the breakthrough process.
A manager supervises, a leader influences.
A manager builds success through quality, a leader builds success through employees.
A manager sets standards of performance, a leader sets new standards.
You can see that it’s mainly a case of what situation you are in before you choose to adopt a clear leadership style or whether you decide to manage the scenario. A rough guide would be that managers manage tasks and leaders lead people. If you have a report to complete by the end of the week, you manage the time, resources, equipment, planning, organisation and control of the project. You lead the people side of the project by motivating, communicating, giving feed-forward and feed-back, mentoring and coaching the staff who will be helping you achieve the results you are looking for.
Be careful not to mix up the two, though. Management is about planning, control and organisation. People don’t like to have their day planned or controlled for them. Set the results you want clearly and succinctly, then lead the people to achieve those results.
That way, you don’t confuse your people about expectations and objectives. Lead your people, manage your tasks, and everyone will know where they are.
How do you know if you are offering excellent customer service? Most companies tell us they use focus groups, surveys, response cards, mystery shopping, etc, and all these are valuable to create an awareness of exactly hat you’re doing right and wrong.
But unless you use another, cheaper, closer-to-home method, you might be missing a trick.
You’re under pressure, but your boss may be under even more!
How can you deal with a boss who may be stressed and taking it out on you?
Well, think first what it is that is actually causing the frustration.
Be aware of the pressures they are under.
Is it a client problem? Financial difficulties? Poor time management?
Whatever it is, work on helping them cope or reduce the impact.
You might try something like… “Tony, you said at last week’s meeting how the xxx account is taking up so much of your time at the moment. I’ve got some ideas I’d like to bounce off you where we can take on some of that responsibility and help you deal with the time issues. It will mean moving some priorities, but I think we can manage OK. Do we want to hear what my suggestions are?”
Here, we showed how we are aware of the boss’s frustrations, did some research to see how we could help and then came up with some solutions to the situation, rather than adding to the problems.
Hopefully, a reasonable boss would at least give it an airing. Present it in a way that they like to see things.
View it from their perspective…are they big chunk thinkers or detail-oriented? Are they visual? Can they work through the ideas with you at speed or do they need time to think it through?
By being on their wavelength, you have a better opportunity of communicating the message effectively, and maybe the stress they are going through can be helped by your approach.