The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
When we run trainings on Meeting Management, one of the common themes that comes up is, what’s the best way to keep the meeting on track when it strays off the agenda?
Now, for whatever reason, some meeting chairmen find it difficult to keep the meeting to the agenda without it sounding like a schoolmaster being irate with his 10-year-old kids! Learn More
We had an interesting email recently from a delegate who had attended one of our Essential Management Skills programmes and had returned to work ready to put a lot of the ideas into practice, knowing that they would boost morale and encourage participation from his team members.
Unfortunately, his boss was of the opinion that the old ways are still the best ways, and that employees should be glad these days that they still have a job. Our delegate said that he felt discouraged by the boss’s reaction, and was there something he could say or do to influence the boss to look at it from a different angle. Learn More
This can be a nightmare scenario, but it doesn’t have to be. A team member has decided that, for whatever reason, they will go to your boss instead of you for a decision or to discuss some important matter.
Now, you are bound to suffer some emotional reaction to this. It could be puzzlement; I can’t understand how or why they would do that. Or frustration; why on earth would they not approach me first? Or anger; I can’t believe they did that! Right behind my back! I’ll soon sort them out!
That’s natural. But firstly, try to work out what would cause them to go over your head and undermine your authority. Could it be they don’t think they will get a satisfactory answer from you? Or possibly they think your boss would be more likely to agree with them.
Whatever the answer, resist the temptation to immediately go to the team member and launch into some kind of tirade that will cause even more resentment.
Instead, try approaching your boss for help.
Yes, that’s right, for help.
How about something like, “Jo, can I ask for your help in maintaining authority with my staff?”
Obviously, Jo is going to say yes. You can continue with something like, “Thanks. Can I ask that, if one of my team asks you for something we haven’t discussed, could you refer them back to me for an answer? When Charlie got your approval for those extra days off, it may encourage others to come to you for decisions that they should be coming to me for”
Notice that you haven’t asked for reasons why the boss approved the request. You have simply made the point of protocol for the future, without asking your boss to justify his or her decision with Charlie.
This way, you still maintain good relations with the boss, and make them realise you still want to do your job, without your authority being undermined. If you were away when the boss made the decision, work out how you would deal with similar situations in the future. That will help you both maintain good relations and help your team to understand the level of authority that you have. And it should keep communication lines open with your team. This will help you maintain your good team management skills.
You know it will happen, if it hasn’t already! That project you are working on has suddenly been brought forward and the deadline is now imminent. How could they do it to me, you ask! They are guaranteeing a lower quality result, if they insist on that deadline!
So what can you do?
Google’s vice president of people operations, Laszlo Bock, says, “It’s not the company-provided lunch that keeps people here. Googlers tell us that there are three reasons they stay: the mission, the quality of the people, and the chance to build the skill set of a better leader or entrepreneur”.
I find it interesting that one of the world’s top ten brands actually measures through analytics why their people stay and progress with the company. Many companies we work with never get round to asking the basic questions as to why people work there, never mind analysing it so they can help them develop.
Have you asked why people stay with you? What motivates them to come to work each day and stay loyal to your company?
If you want to maintain anything like the loyalty that Google enjoys, maybe you should start thinking seriously about what you are doing and can do to keep your people loyal to your company.
Take a look at Google’s top three reasons why people stay. Firstly, the mission of the company. It states “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It’s clear, specific and makes people want to believe in it.
How does your mission make your people feel? Do they aspire to be better simply by reading it and do they want to live it? Or do they even know what your mission is?
Secondly, Googlers stay because of the quality of the people there. Ask yourself whether that’s one reason why you have staff loyalty; because they are happy with the quality of the people they work with. This needs a commitment to development and learning and advancement throughout the whole company, and will create an environment of creativity and innovation, if it is nurtured.
Thirdly, it’s the chance to improve their leadership skills while they work there. Do your people have the opportunity to learn, advance, create, produce, grow, develop and progress through job enrichment and shared responsibilities? Remember, if your people aren’t growing in their jobs, they are hibernating, and may be simply waiting for something better to come along.
Naturally, not all of us can aspire to be like the Google’s of this world. But we can all share a bit of the attitude and commitment they show towards their staff. With zero per cent turnover of staff in the last twelve months, and an average of 100 resumés received every day from aspiring co-workers, it appears the company has a knack of keeping employees loyal. Let’s hope some of that magic can rub off on us!
Sooner or later, unless you’re a brilliant manager or extremely lucky, you will get a situation where two members of your team have a disagreement. This may result in conflict and you have to do something about it.
Most conflicts occur because of a role conflict. It’s seldom these days that it’s a personality conflict where two people can’t stand to be in the same room with each other. So how do you deal with a situation that requires your input? Learn More
Ask why a person joins a sales team, and they will normally answer because of the quality of the manager. Ask why they stay with that team and it’s usually because of the quality of the manager. Ask why they leave, and it’s often because of the quality of the manager.
You play a vital role in keeping the team together. Your position is vital in raising or decreasing the morale and motivation of the team. We have often seen people on our courses who are complaining about how things are in their working environment.
When questioned about this, it invariably comes down to how their immediate manager is handling things that will determine how this person will react long-term.
As manager, we know that we have to spend time specifically with individuals within our team. But what can you specifically do to make sure these team members are kept motivated, energised and convinced they should add their time and efforts to your team goals?
Here are some ideas:
* Practice participative management: People closer to the front line have more day-to-day experiences of what actually happens in the real world, whether it’s on the shop floor, in front of the customer or out in the field.
By tapping into this knowledge, you can find out exactly what’s going on and identify how you can help people achieve their goals. Participative leaders know they don’t know all the answers, and they encourage their team to share information on what they see as the best way forward.
Listen closely. They may have some golden nuggets that you hadn’t thought of before.
* Be clear in your expectations: Unclear expectations will only cause confusion and negativity. A laser will burn a hole in piece of material that a flashlight never could.
Similarly, a clear, specific, focused objective can be the key to ensuring quality results pinpointed in exactly the right areas.
* Build their self-esteem: This has been described as the degree to which people feel praiseworthy. By building people’s self-confidence in what they are doing, you tap into the potential that is inside every person, and you create a base from which to build great results.
Keep any praise genuine, honest and non-patronising. The self-worth you build in your team will be well worth the time and effort you put in.
* Keep the lines of communication open: People kept in the dark feel lost and can start rumours based on what they think the meaning is of being short-changed in the communication stakes.
Don’t add fuel to the inevitable rumour fire by keeping information to yourself. Each person has a deep need to feel they a part of something bigger than themselves and if you refuse to communicate, they will defensively recoil back into their own area of security. That should be the last thing you want, so make sure you keep those lines open.
* Remember the three keys of motivation: Reward, Recognition, Responsibility. They have to be made in unison, as it will not be very uplifting if someone gets the responsibility they’ve been craving, the recognition for a job well done, and no reward for it.
Make sure there’s some cohesion between the three, and you’ll tap into the potential that lies in everyone.
All the above will provide reasons for loyalty, commitment and motivation if you approach it correctly and follow through on your promises. The effective team manager will create a great team, concentrated on results and high achievement.