The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
Seldom will you go a long time as a manager without having to present some kind of message, Whether it’s to gain more funding, to convince a customer to use your services or simply to address your team members, you will need to present a message where decisions have to be made and your credibility will be on the line.
The Kaizen model of continuous improvement originated in Japan and has been used as a management concept for incremental, or gradual/continual, change or improvement. It has been a way of life for Japanese people for centuries and can be applied to key elements of business like quality, effort, employee involvement, change initiatives and communication.
The emphasis is on gradual improvement, built on a foundation of strategic initiatives that create specific and measurable benefits to the business. It’s evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and is best applied in incremental change situations over the long-term.
How do you get your team to buy in to the Kaizen concept?
Firstly, gain agreement that small changes would be advantageous to the working climate. It will have greater backing if all recognise the need for growth.
Ascertain how you could perform as a team if everyone was willing to commit to improvement. Don’t expect or demand overnight radical change…gain their agreement that small, specific improvements will be easier and more effectively implemented than larger, more global ones.
Decide how the team can measure the effectiveness of any new initiative. This will help gain ownership of any changes that can be made.
Commit to the changes yourself, so you set the example of what’s expected. Team members are more likely to commit if they see you championing the concept.
Create short-term wins that will help the team see successes quickly and frequently. Feedback of these wins will create a motivational environment.
Communicate the results and share the benefits. You’ll cement the commitment and drive the momentum forward to continue.
It’s always going to be easier for someone to aim for a 5% improvement over 3 months, than a 20% improvement over a year, so the Kaizen concept of continuous and frequent improvements will provide you with an easier acceptance level from your team. And that can only be good for morale and confidence!
Management is a key position within any business, and can be a very rewarding role to play. It’s not always plain sailing, though, and you sometimes have to deal with people who cause difficult situations for you.
For example, you may be in a situation where you find it difficult to deal with a team member. This can be caused by many reasons, including differences in positions and interests, motivations, personality styles, perceptions, cultural backgrounds, experience and many others.
Here are some questions you may like to consider to isolate the source of these differences and help you consider a way to deal with them:
How is your perception of the situation different from the other person?
How might their motivations differ from yours?
What do you find difficult about the other person’s style?
Does the other person’s communication style differ from yours?
What is the other person’s interest in this matter?
Are they taking a position that you find hard to deal with?
What experience or background does the person have that might be influencing they way they consider the situation?
Are other people involved in the situation, whose views you may have to consider?
Having answered those questions, what conclusions can you come to about the source of the difficulty?
The answers to these questions will give you a clear view as to why the difficulties are occurring in the first place, and give you a firm foundation on which to build a solution-focused conversation.
Right…grab a piece of paper and a pen.
Do it now before reading on…
OK, draw a picture of a hand on that piece of paper…
It doesn’t matter if you’re not an artist…just draw it.
Good! Read on…
Let me ask you…did you look at your own hand to draw the picture? No? You’re in good company because, in this exercise, we find most people don’t look at their own hand first. Why?
Because most people prefer to work with a mental picture even though the real world is staring them in the face. We think with these mental pictures and we frequently base our performance on these illusions. Psychologists call the act of creating mental pictures generalization, abstraction, or concept acquisition. You might want to call it stereotyping.
It isn’t that important if you drew the hand based on your mental picture or by looking at your other hand as you drew it. What is more important is if you decide on team processes or company policy based on the stereotypes or generalisations you carry in your head.
You may have a distorted picture, based on your current thought processes or conditioning that will cause you to think the same way as you did last time you carried out the process. What could be the consequences?
Well, your decision may not produce the desired results you hoped for, as the process may not be in line with the way your team views the situation. Your perception may be true in your eyes, but because you have been conditioned that way, you may not see reality as seen through others’ eyes.
So, take a few moments before making a decision today to see if it’s based on how you generalise situations (stereotyping) or if it’s an up-to-date viewpoint based on taking a look at the real world.
Take another look at your drawing…did you copy your other hand? Or did you stereotype?
Food for thought!
Procrastination is a symptom. It’s your body and mind telling you there is some area of stress that you are focusing on. By relieving the feeling of pain associated with actually doing the task you are putting off, you are reducing your anxiety by focusing on something more pleasurable or less demanding.
Remember, procrastination is an end result, so you might want to diagnose what’s causing it first, before you dive into these tips and techniques: Learn More
How frustrated do you feel when you are interrupted? I know I can feel quite annoyed when I’m in the middle of a large piece of work and the phone, a colleague or an email ‘breaks up’ my concentration. By the way, that’s the original meaning of the word ‘interrupt’…to break up. How fitting!
Do you waste time planning? Many managers do, because they spend too much time trying to organise things that are un-organisable! What I mean by this is, if you spend time trying to organise other people, you run the risk of that time being wasted because of your inability to control other people.
People don’t want to be managed. This is the oxymoron in the title ‘people manager’. A good definition of a manager is someone who plans, controls, directs and organises. How would you feel if everything you did during the day was planned for you, organised for you, directed for you and you were controlled every step of the way? I can imagine your answer!
So, when you do your daily planning, make sure you focus on things that you can control or, at least, influence. Here are some ideas:
Create a ‘to do’ list and, alongside it, a ‘will do’ list. These lists are your focal points of productivity. Take your ‘to do’ list and write down from it those items you categorically must, must, must get done today, no exception. This will be your ‘will do’ list, and shouldn’t cover more than half your day. That way, you will be able to top up from your ‘to do’ list without having to buy more time. The ‘will dos’ are those things that are crucial to get completed today. And from our experience, not everything on your ‘to do’ list falls into that category.
When you are about to start a task, ask yourself: “Is this the best use of my time right now? Is there a more efficient way of handling this task? Could it be delegated? Or am I the best person to carry this out?”
Work out the hourly rate you are paid by your company. Then ask yourself “Would I be willing to pay someone else that amount to do the hour’s work I’m about to do?” This often brings you to your senses as to the best use of your time.
Look at the next appointments you are about to handle over the next three days. Is it a valuable use of your time to meet with these people? Or would it be more suitable to phone them, conference call with them or email them? Sometimes a meeting is most suitable, but plan that out first to make sure.
Many people make mistakes when they prioritise their tasks. They start off with ‘Priority 1’ then move onto ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and so on. Let me ask you a question. How seriously and with how much passion do you tackle a ‘Priority 8’ task? Be honest!
Most people take something that’s 8 or below on their list and treat it like it’s not that important and often procrastinate with it. Here’s a simple technique…don’t view your lower-priority tasks with less enthusiasm simply because they are lower on the list. Having completed ‘Priority 1’, treat ‘Priority 2’ as the new ‘Priority 1’ !!!
That way you are taking all your tasks seriously and are less likely to procrastinate. Taking your ‘Priority 8’ seriously means you get a lot more done more effectively and efficiently.
So,don’t attempt to control others’ time…just work on what you can control and you’ll see your personal effectiveness improve dramatically.
We’ve all been there…the meeting is going ok, then someone takes it off track and you end up spending a long time on subjects that are not part of the agenda and wasting everyone’s time. You need to be assertive and take control. What’s the best way? Learn More