The Management Blog

Tips & advice to help you improve your performance

 

Management Blog

Multi-tasking isn’t Cool

As much as you want to believe you’re a super-manager, the truth is that you probably aren’t. Now, don’t take that the wrong way. Most of us, believe it or not, are not stellar when it comes to multi-tasking. The real truth is that it is important to take a look at your performance and really understand whether or not you are part of the 2.5% of society (yea, that’s right – just 2.5%) that can multi-task, or if you are part of the 97.5% of society that really isnt’ very good at it. The latter seems a bit more likely, doesn’t it?

What does this mean to you?

It means most of us really aren’t as good at writing an email while talking on the phone as we think.

It means most of us should not be having conversations on the phone while driving – at all – even though we think we’re in control.

It simply means we shouldn’t attempt to do so many things at the same exact time.

Studies have shown that those who multi-task have lower performance levels when their work is evaluated. Meaning each project is considered average, and sometimes sub-par. People who turn in projects they’ve finished one at a time, or that they worked on in small chunks of time that were not dedicated to anything else, did very well with their work projects.

So what are you going to do with your schedule today? Are you going to sit at your desk and try to plan a meeting, read your emails, and double check a report at the same time? Or are you going to dedicate specific amounts of time to each and leave the others alone?

Remember, you don’t have to finish every project before you move on to the next – but you have to alot dedicated time to it without focusing on anything else. That’s when you’ll get true results.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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You Survived a Layoff. Now What?

The state of the economy, worldwide, has left hundreds upon thousands seeking employment. Those who have not lost their jobs often find themselves wondering whether they would be better off if they had been let go instead of taking the brunt of the aggravation and, now, short-staffing in their current offices.

The truth? Managers don’t only look at salaries when they determine who they’re doing to layoff when times are tough. They look at the big picture and try to determine how they can save money without losing quality workers. If it comes to choosing between a higher paid employee with a great attitude versus a lower paid employee with a terrible attitude, the lower paid employee may just find himself on the chopping block.

So what can you do now that you’ve found yourself in the position of survival? Here are a few things you can do, both as an employee and from a managerial standpoint, to make your life a bit easier.

  • Acknowledge the fact that you can’t do everything and do your best to prioritize. Do the most important work first and let the rest wait.
  • Remain as positive and realistic as possible at all times. Do what you can and don’t fight the natural flow. You have no control over your organisation’s overall progress and, if things end badly, it won’t be due to your lack of performance.
  • Make sure you act like a leader. Your remaining team members will be looking to you for guidance and reassurance.
  • Use your managerial and communication skills to keep in touch with other departments. Make sure you have systems in place to ensure you’re still helping each other effectively despite changes in staff.
  • Let your employees know that you still expect high quality work but that you do not expect them to turn into super-people overnight. Acknowledge that they are human and may not be able to simply absorb the work left behind by past employees.
  • Offer support to your team members, especially those who aren’t coping with the new changes and stresses as well. Do what you can to let them vent without losing track of their goals.

Layoffs are sad but not abnormal. Do your best to regroup and move on. You still have a job, and you’ll want to keep it as long as possible.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Do You Really Want to be a Manager?

Management, to be honest, isn’t easy. Sure, there are pros and cons to becoming a manager but the reality of the situation is that you need to jump on the management path not only because someone thinks you’d be good at it, or because you think you’ll make more money, but because you really want to be a leader.

Any other reason is unacceptable and, in the end, if you’re not willing to be a leader you’re going to find yourself very frustrated with your career path. Let’s take a look at some of the negative and positive aspects of a career in management.

First, we’ll list some of the drawbacks:

  • You won’t be able to develop as many close friendships with your team members because doing so will cloud your ability to make objective supervisory decisions. You may begin to feel lonely.
  • You’ll receive very little immediate feedback about how you’re doing with your work. Most of your goals will be long-term. As such, you may feel unsure of yourself.
  • Managers often have to sign legal documents, including employment contracts or contracts with customers and vendors. This means you can, on some level, be held legally liable if there is a problem.
  • Management positions are competitive. There are more team members than there are managers -always. And there are always more people looking to move up than there are spots available. You may feel some tension as others vie for your job – or for those similar to yours.

There are, of course, plenty of positive aspects to management:

  • Your status as a manager may earn you some sort of prestige – especially if people believe your title sounds powerful.
  • Managers sometimes feel as though they have some sort of power. They do, on some levels, but it is important to remember that even managers have work delegated to them before they can delegate it to others.
  • Managers, in most cases, receive better pay than those beneath them. There are instances in which this is not true. For example, some companies pay based on the value of your contributions. Who do you think gets paid more – a nuclear chemist or the guy who “manages” the plan in which he works. My guess is that the nuclear chemist is actually making a more valuable or important contribution to the overall goals of the organisation.

It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of management. If moving up the corporate ladder is something you’ve always dreamed of, then go for it. If not, do you really want to add that type of stress to your life?

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Asking Great Interview Questions

As a manager, I’ve always found the interview process both fascinating and nerve-wracking. It’s fascinating because I get to meet and speak to dozens of incredible people – some great for the job and others not – but all from different walks of life. It’s nerve-wracking because I have to constantly stay on my toes, thinking of interview questions that will help me to almost force a person to show his or her true colors.

In my experience, I’ve found that interview questions serve three main purposes. They tell you whether or not the individual in question has the skills needed to join the workforce; they tell you whether or not a person is able to function well under pressure; and they give you a general idea of whether or not the person will be a good fit, personality wise, with your team. Learn More

How to Deal with a Difficult Employee

It’s Monday. Your weekend seems like it was just a bit too short. You’ve entered your office, settled down behind your desk, and before you know it you’re receiving a barrage of complaints from EmployeeX about his job, what he doesn’t like about a particular task, and what he perceives other employees are saying about him behind his back. It doesn’t really matter what you say to EmployeeX – he’s always combative and argumentative. He doesn’t deal appropriately with other coworkers and, to be honest, he’s a distraction in the workplace.

So how do you deal with someone who is difficult, on all levels, on a regular basis?

You need to start out by doing your homework. What exactly is it that causes EmployeeX to be so difficult. Why does he always complain? Why does he feel like other take credit for his work (or why does he take credit for the work others have done)? Everyone can be difficult on occasion – due to stress or a problem at at home – but EmployeeX seems to always have some sort of problem.

When you’re doing your homework, look for facts. Think about the inappropriate behaviour you have witnessed or think about the situations where you have multiple witnesses who can tell you what happened. Heresay, gossip, and rumors won’t help you solve problems. Are you making the problem worse in the way you respond (combative vs. combative)?

Your next step is to make a plan for confronting the employee in question. Determine the severity of the situation and, if it warrants such action, ask a HR representative to sit in on the meeting. It’s not fun to do, but you absolutely have to tell EmployeeX that his behaviour in the workplace is simply not appropriate. Talk to him and see if you can determine exactly what it is that causes his behavioural issues. Don’t interrupt him, repeat back parts of what he is saying so that he knows you are listening, and try to set some guidlines that dicatate more appropriate behaviour at work.

In the end, you’ll come up with some sort of solution. EmployeeX will either embrace the opportunity you’re giving him for change or he’ll stray further away. If that’s the case, you’ll need to get him help or – unfortunately – sever your working relationship.

It’s OK to do that if you find there are no other options. The trick, as a manager, is knowing how to recognize when you’ve run out of options.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Understanding Pareto’s Principle

Back in the early 1900’s there was a guy by the name of Vilfredo Pareto. He, upon studying the distribution of wealth in the country that he lived, realized that about 20% of the people living in his country owned 80% of the wealth. The truth is that when we think of Pareto’s Principle today we are not talking about the distribution of wealth. In the 1940’s, another doctor inaccurately named the 80/20 rule of time management to Pareto – and rightfully so – the rule had been applied and misapplied to a number of industries and professions ever since it was discovered.

So what does Pareto’s Principle have to say about time management? The concept is simple. A mere 20% of your efforts are responsible for 80% of your results.

So what does this mean to you?

It means you have to figure out which 20% of your time matters. Usually it’s the first 10% and the last 10%. Only 20% of your day is going to have a direct impact on the end results. If that’s the case, what parts of your day can you cut out – which parts are time wasters – and which should you focus on most? Can you turn the other 80% of your day into something more productive as well?

There’s another theory that interprets Pareto’s Principle as saying that 20% of your people do 80% of your work. If this is true, will you focus on increasing the abilities of that first 20% or will you try to make the other 80% of your team better?

In the end, the results are still the same. Only a small portion of the time you spend leads to direct results. Make sure you’re splitting your time accordingly.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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How to Be a Better Manager – Part 2

On Monday we kicked off the week by talking about a few of the things you could do to develop your own management career. Today I’m going to spend a few minutes outlining a few more things you should consider as you walk down the path of self improvement. Management, after all, is a continuous process and, as such, your path towards continuous development should be as well.

Develop Your Motivation Skills

You, as a manager, will be responsible for making sure your employees feel motivated at all times. Everyone has different reasons for feeling motivated – saving for a vacation, working towards a promotion, or simply feeling accomplished. It’s your job to find out what motivates your employees so that you an make sure they continue to be motivated.

Lead Your Team

Good managers are not just managers – they’re leaders as well. A simple manager will do just that – manage his team – giving them instructions and orders and going about his day. A real manager will lead his team, giving them their tasks and guiding them by pulling his share of the weight. Guide them in the right direction and they’ll surely follow.

Learn about Money

Unless you’re already in accounting, you probably know as much about money as your department budget requires. The truth, though, is that to appreciate your business as a whole you should really gain a better understanding about how money works in your business environment. What is spent, what is earned, and what you can do to avoid being wasteful. Saving doesn’t mean being stingy – it means being creative.

Focus on YOURSELF

 

You can’t help others if you never help yourself. What areas of your business life do you think need growth and development? Can you take a class? Can you ask your own managers for mentoring or coaching? The better you are at developing your self the better you will be at helping others.

Remain Ethical

No matter what, conduct all business in an ethical manner – both within your organisation and outside of it. Ask your human resources department or upper management for help if you feel as though you are in an ethical dilema.

Your success as a manager is in your hand. Have you identified any areas you should start working on right away?

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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How to be a Better Manager – Part 1

So you’re a manager. Congratulations. I’m sure you’re doign a great job. Now, I don’t mean to bust your bubble, but what are you going to do to make yourself a better manager. Here are a few things to consider:

Build a Great Team

No manager can be successful without a great team at his side. It’s your job to develop a team full of successful, hard working, and motivated individuals. You’ll need to brush up on your interview skills and work at selecting the right people right from the start.

Develop a Great Team

Once you have the right people working with you, you’ll need to make sure they’re all motivated to get the job done – not only on an individual basis but as a team working together as well. Team members should all have times where they’re doing their own things, but they should be able to work together most of the time as well. If you’re having trouble in that area, you may want to implement a few team building activities to break the ice a bit.

Work on Your Own Communication Skills

Odds are, you judge your employees by their abilities to communicate – with each other, with you, and with clients. But are you setting a good example? Your team members, and even managers above you, will grow dependent upon your ability to convey clear, concise thoughts. You’ll need to work on both your verbal and written communication skills in order to become successful.

Time Management

Time management is rough for a lot of people, especially those juggling busy home lives while they’re focusing on their careers. What can you do to enhance your time management abilities? Do you need to get a better organization plan? Do you need to learn to prioritise better? Figure out what your weaknesses are and learn to improve upon them.

Give Yourself a Break

Your employees and team members get breaks during the day and you should, too. You’re not a superhero and you simply can’t work long days without taking a few minutes here and there to breathe. Take a short walk, get a cup of coffee, or simply shut the office door for a few minutes. Oh, and don’t forget to take your annual vacation. If you’re rested, you won’t become aggravated when dealing with your team.

You are a valuable member of your organisation and you want to make sure you stay that way. Take some time to improve upon yourself and you’ll be successful for years to come.

Thanks again,

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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