The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
This exercise shows how difficult it is to really take notice of things we see every day. Use it with your team in your next meeting, just to see how observant they are.
Pick someone who has a lot of confidence. Make sure they are wearing a watch. Without telling them what you are going to do, ask them to place their right hand over the watch face on their wrist.
Get them to stand up and approach you, still with their hand covering their watch. When they get to you, ask them to turn their wrist over, undo the watch strap and pass it to you.
Ask them how many times they look at their watch, on average, every day. Then ask them how long they have had their watch.
If they say they look at it on average 10 times a day, and they have had it for 3 years, then they have actually looked at their watch over 1000 times. Work out the figures quickly in your head for whatever numbers they tell you.
Now, while you have the watch and they can’t see it, ask your team members some questions about it. Obviously, the more complicated the watch, the better the exercise.
Ask such questions as
– what colour is the strap?
– what words are on the face and where are they?
– how many numbers are on the watch?
– does it show the date, and if so, where?
– describe any distinguishing marks or features on it
Alternatively, you can ask them to describe their watch in detail. When they have done so, ask them questions about any details they have missed out.
After the questions, feedback how they did. Most people will get at least two or three answers wrong.
Don’t embarrass the person, but clarify the point that we all see the same things every day but can often become blasé about them because we don’t pay attention at the conscious level.
Ask the group; are there things that we do every day in the workplace because we have always done them that way without thinking? Could it be that we have become blasé about the quality of work we produce? Is there a way we could become more aware of the standards of our work, simply by becoming more observant?
Maybe if we all noticed what we can do to improve the quality of our work, we would all be able to support each other effectively.
By the way, make sure you thank the volunteer and ask everyone else there if they would have done any better if they had been the one chosen to describe their watch!
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!