The Management Blog

Tips & advice to help you improve your performance

 

Management Blog

How To Manage Your Boss – Lead Them, Rather Than The Other Way Round

A study on why people leave their jobs in order to work for another company came up with an interesting observation:

More than two thirds of people leave, not because of better prospects or more pay, but because of their poor relationship with their immediate supervisor or manager.

This allows us to ask a question that might address this issue of poor relationships with the people we work for, namely

How can we get the best out of our boss and give ourselves the best opportunities to keep the communications loops wide open between us?”

Our take on this is to lead your manager proactively, rather than being in the reactive mode of letting them manage us.

This will lead to effective and efficient project management, based on clear and specific goals that will create better results than if we just depended on our manager for guidance all the time.

Here are some tips to ensure you have the best chance of getting those results:

Make a contract with your manager: Find out what an excellent job looks like, and who will be involved in measuring that performance.

Make sure you’re clear on your manager’s expectations: What seems really exquisite work to you may only appear average to them You could ask, “Can we be clear on what standard you are looking for on this project?” Or, “If this went exactly like you wanted it to go and it turned out perfect, what would have to happen between now and that time?” Be aware of all aspects of what the manager wants in the project; sometimes managers don’t tell you everything, and you have to dig deep to get the the details you require.

Be assertive in asking questions that give you clarity of expectations, and don’t assume anything you’re not clear about.

Be clear on what would make your manager happy regarding quality, follow-up and timing: Your manager may have lots of other things on their mind and might forget to tell you such things as a firm deadline or a required step.

And since everyone operates from their own set of realities, the possibility of miscommunication is high. That’s why you need to take the initiative to set expectations for every project your boss assigns you.

You need to find out: “What is the deadline? What are my resources? What checkpoints or milestones do we want to establish, if any? What step or contact person is absolutely critical to this project?”

Just as you set expectations when dealing with clients and co-workers, you need to manage the relationship and set expectations with your boss every time.  

Know what your manager’s style is and adapt to that style: Some managers want the whole story, bit by bit, in detail and with commas and full-stops in the right place.

Others just want the big picture, like an executive summary, just to convince them that you’re on the right track. Others want a mixture of both.

Be aware of how your manager wants you to communicate with them. It will be worth your time invested in this important area.

Practice emotional intelligence with your manager when it comes to conflicting interests: A person high in EQ will assess the situation with their manager and identify ways they can communicate effectively to resolve conflict.

One of the best ways to do this is to accept responsibility for the communication. Use “I” rather than “You” to clarify meaning. For instance “I am not clear on this aspect” rather than “You need to explain that clearer”. By taking personal responsibility for any misunderstandings, you clarify in your own mind what standards are being expected, and create better long-term relationships with your manager  

If other managers are involved in the project, be aware of their interests and styles:

Keeping up with the expectations and styles of many managers involved in the project may be tricky. Keep in mind the one thing that matters most to each of the stakeholders you have to please. Either ask each person what is most important to them, or work out what you have observed in each person’s behavior that you can work with.

This way, you keep the communication lines open and allow each manager to see things from your perspective.

Lead them, rather than the other way round: You can reassess the relationship with your manager on each new project you work on. If you are able to lead them and show them how to get the best out of you, and if you are able to build great communication skills with them and help them lead you better, it results in a fine working relationship that enhances every aspect of the projects you work on together

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Do You Have a Skilled Customer Service Team?

Chances are, whether you have direct client contact or not, you and your team members are providing some sort of customer service. You may not be dealing with outside clients, but in almost every situation you have some sort of internal client (another team, accounting, human resources, etc). Regardless of who your client may be, you need to have the customer service skills necessary to make your customers happy.

But how do you offer great customer service, from a management standpoint?

  • Start by hiring a great group of people. We’ve spoken quite a bit about interview skills – so use them. Make sure you aren’t only hiring people who can get the job done, but who can get the job done while remaining friendly and interested in their work.
  • Make sure you outline a clear set of customer service standards for your team members to follow. They should dictate how they speak to customers, how they act in the presence of customers, and how they respond (in both attitude and time frame) to the needs of their customers. Once you’ve set the standards, hold your team members to them.
  • Ensure your team member are getting the training they need. Believe it or not, most people aren’t born working in customer service industries and, as such, the skills needed to deal with people do not come naturally. Ongoing training will support your cause.
  • Develop an incentive program through which those who go above and beyond the call of duty can be  rewarded for their efforts. Sure, you should be paying well, but you should show your team members a bit of respect by acknowledging their hard work from time to time as well.
  • Take criticism seriously. People who are unhappy with your business aren’t likely to tell you about their experiences – they’ll tell everyone else they know instead. If someone has something to say – listen. Others probably have the same sentiment.

The happier your team members, the more their attitudes will rub off on their customer interactions – guaranteed.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Management Blog Call To Action

Avoiding Hyperopia

I’ve learned a new word. Hyperopia is, simply put, the fancy medical term used to refer to farsightedness.

What does farsightedness have to do with your career as a manager?

It all has to do with work/life balance.

From an economic standpoint, hyeropia is the failure of an individual to make a long-term estimate about the benefits of the work he is doing. In most cases, we believe that the future benefit will be greater than it actually is, and, as a result, we opt to work during times we should be relaxing or spending time witho ur families.

There was an article in Harvard Magazine, in the September-October 2009 issue. In the article, researchers surveyed a group of individuals about the choices they had made in business, and they found something incredibly interesting. If they asked someone if work was more important than leisure time right after a person had to make a decision about that time, they’d choose work. The longer it had been since a pivotal decision making point, the more people felt as though they should have taken some time for themselves.

Hindsight is 20/20, right?

My point is that you, as a manager, need to find great work/life balance. You need to really think about whether or not working overtime is going to have a huge impact on your future – or whether or not you’d rather spend time watching your kids grow up – or preventing illness from overwork.

The choice is up to you.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Management Blog Call To Action

Where is Your Management Career Going?

Too often I see people earn the title of manager and then lose themselves in their new identity. Some will thrive and grow in their new positions while others will become stagnant after a period of time.

Most, when asked, will say they are “a manager” and my next question is always this:

What type of manager are you?

Truth be told, there are plenty of differences. We have general managers, senior managers, managers, supervisors, and – well – you get it… you could place a wide variety of different terms on the different levels or types of management. I know of one company that assigned the title of “Assistant Vice President” to every mid-level manager in the organization. Sounds nice, right? The problem is that many people don’t understand exactly what their titles mean.

Let’s take a look at a couple of those titles and their definitions:

  • General managers have a very broad responsibility, in most cases. General managers aren’t responsible for one specific part of an organisation. Instead they are responsible for the function of all areas – with each individual manger of those areas to get the jobd one.
  • Senior managers usually work in organisations with a lot of employees – those who feel as those there are so many levels they need to add additional people to the hierarchy to help keep control. Senior level managers generally fall somewhere below the general manager, but above a regular department manager.
  • Managers, in general, are individuals in charge of directing the work of a specific group of people. Managers may be in charge of an entire department, or they may be in charge of a team within a department. They’ll either report directly to the general manager, or to a “senior manager” above them.
  • A supervisor, in some cases, is considered a manager. In other places, a supervisor is someone who is in a junior management position. Supervisors may be in charge of a small portion of a team, reporting back to the manager at the end of the day as to the status of a project. Supervisors generally have very little authority, and in some cases can’t even hire or fire employees.

Where do you fall on the management mall map? Are you where you want to be, or are you aching to move up the corporate ladder?

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Management Blog Call To Action

Are Your Employees Depressed?

Despite what television commercials would have you believe, depression is relatively common. The difference is that the majority of the population experiences some sort of situational depression (due to a relationship, illness, death, job issue, etc) and then works past it. Some need professional help and others do not. Others have hormonal imbalances that cause them to become depressed and, in many cases, seek regular medical attention. Learn More

Sorting through Resumes

The tasking of interviewing potential new employees is a daunting process all by itself, but sometimes we forget about the process that comes before it – sorting through resumes.

Now let me clarify one point first. The online world is wonderful when it comes to making job postings public. Whereas we were once limited to word of mouth and print advertisements, online job boards give us the opportunity to extend our reach to areas we may not have been able to make contact in before. Learn More

Vision vs. Strategy

Having a vision is important, regardless of your position within an organisation.

Your vision is your dream for your self, your team, or your organisation as a whole.

Here’s the problem, though. I’ve met dozens of people with great visions, but none of them had any idea how they would make those visions into a reality.

They had no strategy in mind. If your vision is your dream, then your strategy is your action plan. It’s the roadmap you create for yourself. If you follow that roadmap, your dreams will come true.

So you want to be the top selling sales team within the organisation?

What stragety will you devise in order to help your team members achieve that goal?

You want to have the best customer service reputation in the industry?

What will you do to help your team members be the best that they can be?

Once you have a strategy in mind, you’ll need to implement some specific tactics.

The tactics you use are the actual actions you take to make your dreams come true.

You’re no longer dreaming or thinking – you’re doing.

You will get up in the morning, you will go into the office, you will have a planning meeting, and you will continue by doing xyz. Get it?

Visions are dreams. Strategies are road maps.

Tactics are action. Take action. Whether that means becoming a better manager or achieving some other great goal. J

ust do it.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Management Blog Call To Action

7 Tips for Developing Your Leadership Skills

Have you been struggling with the concept of leadership lately? Are you unsure of how you should best blend your management responsibilities with your desire to be a leader to your team? Today I’d like to share 7 tips you can use to help enhance your leadership skills while maintaining your status as a strong manager.

  1. Always accept responsibility for your actions. Be responsible for the things you say and do on a personal level, during your interactions in social groups or professional organisations, and – of course – in the worlkplace. Accepting responsibility, even for your mistakes, will endear you to your team.
  2. Show your enthusiasm and loyalty towards your employer, even when times are tough. Show your team members that you take pride in your job and that you are proud to be an employee of XYZ Organisation. Even in the midst of tough times – like when layoffs are prevalent – you need to keep a positive attitude that your employees can identify with.
  3. Make sure you constantly set high, but achievable, standards for your team. The higher your standards, the better your output will be. Both you and your team members will be recognized for constantly completing superior work and you’ll be viewed as the leader who makes it happen.
  4. Take some time out to listen to your team members. If an employee comes into your office to talk to you about his day to day activities, listen for a minute and then turn things back to work. If an employee comes to you to talk about a pivotal change in his life – like a divorce or death in the family – take the time to listen and let him know you care. Find balance.
  5. Continue to improve your own skills by participating in continuing education classes. Not only will you have better communication and leadership skills, but you’ll be setting a great example for your team members as well.
  6. Remain free of stress in the workplace. If you do encounter stress, try to remain calm and composed. Do your best to identify and remove the cause of the stress in your workplace before it affects others.
  7. Delegate your authority clearly and in a fair manner. Trust your team members to get the job done right. If you don’t trust them, you should consider taking steps to redevelop your team.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Management Blog Call To Action