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How To Make Sure They Get it Right First Time

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On one of our programs, a manager remarked that he had a team member who, no matter how he gave directions of what should be done, always failed to comply. It wasn’t a matter of competence or illiteracy…they just failed to do what was asked of them to the degree required. He asked what he should do.

We worked on a checklist similar to the one below. See if you can add any more ideas to the list.

* Concentrate on the ‘when’ it needs to be done by. Confirm that the deadline is within the reach of the employee and that both of you are aware of any other priorities that might get in the way.

* Ensure the employee knows the reason for the task and the benefits of achieving the right result.

When you give instructions, pay attention to these specifics:

  • The right time. When is the right time? When the employee is able to give their full attention and concentration
  • The right way. Relate to the employee. Adapt to their learning style, their communication style and their level of vocabulary
  • Visual reference. When possible, provide a tangible example of what you are looking for from the employee, a sample, model, diagram, graphic, report or rendering.
  • Pause for questions. After every few steps ask “Are you clear, or do you have questions?”
  • Ask for a replay. Don’t ask “Did you get it?” or “Do you understand?” Not all employees will say “No” for fear of looking stupid. Instead, ask them to clarify what needs to be done in their own words, with deadlines and quality criteria clearly covered
  • Progress reports. Does the task require interim follow-up? Then say something like “Let’s get together next Tuesday at 9am so you can bring me up to date. OK?”

After the task is completed, give the employee feedback, positive and, if necessary, corrective. Then, assess your effectiveness. If anything went wrong, is there some aspect of your communication you could improve on next time?

By identifying what level of communication is right for the employee, there is less chance of there being a problem with them carrying out the ideas you have discussed with them.

Many thanks

Mark Williams

Head of Training

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by Digital Art of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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How the Expectancy Theory of Motivation Really Works


Expectancy theory suggests that motivation is based on how much we want something and how likely we think we are to get it. I often discuss this facet of motivation when coaching managers, as it answers many questions about desire, want and need for extrinsic motivation.

The formal framework of expectancy theory was developed by Victor Vroom. This framework states basically that motivation plus effort leads to performance, which then leads to outcomes.

According to this theory, three conditions must be met for individuals to exhibit motivated behavior:

?        effort-to-performance expectancy must be greater than zero;

?        performance-to-outcome expectancy must also be greater than zero; and

?        the sum of the effects for all relevant outcomes must be greater than zero.

Effort-to-performance expectancy is the individual’s perception of the probability that effort will lead to high performance. This expectancy ranges from 0 to 1, with 1 being a strong belief that effort will lead to high performance.

Performance-to-outcome expectancy is the individual’s perception that performance will lead to a specific outcome. This expectancy ranges from 0 to 1. A high performance-to-outcome expectancy would be 1 or close to it.

Outcomes are consequences of behavior. An individual may experience a variety of outcomes in a work setting. Each outcome has an associated effect, which is an index of how much an individual desires a particular outcome. An outcome that an individual wants has a positive effect. An outcome that the individual does not want has a negative effect. When the individual is indifferent to the outcome, the effect is zero.

So you can identify a motivator that can appeal to a specific person by identifying what effort it will actually take for them to achieve the particular goal they are aiming for. If the situation could arise that, no matter how much effort they put into something, it may still result in poor performance, then why should they try? And when the effect, or end-result, of something is what they actually desire, then the motive is increased to actually carry it out.

So, expectancy theory helps managers to see how motivation can be be personalised to individual team members, as well as teams.

Many thanks

Mark Williams

Head of Training

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by Tung Photo of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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How Do I Manage Someone Who Is More Knowledgeable Than Me?


We had an interesting question this week on our management course that opened up a good discussion on leadership.

The question came from a new manager who had been promoted from among his peers and was now managing people who were much more knowledgeable and experienced than he was. His question was how should he manage such people.

My reply was…”Don’t!”

By that, I meant don’t try to manage them. Managing someone who has more ability, experience or knowledge than you do has its pitfalls and its benefits. By managing them, you stifle their creativity and innovation. I asked the manager why he felt it necessary to actually manage the knowledgeable ex-peer. That opened up a new topic as to how much autonomy and responsibility the person should have, and if he should be managed at all.

The group suggested that he should lead the other person, allowing him to show leadership qualities himself. Trying to ‘manage’ wouldn’t work.

Instead, the leader should:

  • Discuss what roles and responsibilities the person should have and agree on how those should be carried out
  • Agree any targets that should be set for the subordinate
  • Give them the freedom and authority to achieve those targets themselves, with the manager holding the resource purse strings and the accountability
  • Set parameters for the ex-peer to work to, but allow them to control it
  • Concentrate on results rather than methods
  • Use the experience of the ex-peer to drive things forward, supporting their decisions and allowing them to create further opportunities
  • Encourage them to share their experiences and learn from them
  • Ensure you, as a manager, take full responsibility for their results, and help them achieve higher goals if possible

What you’re trying to do is create the environment for the ex-peer to still contribute to the success of the department without feeling that he has been overlooked or that his experience is of no value. On the contrary, it is of great value and should be seen to be that way by all team members.

So, don’t try and manage this kind of employee…keep their motivation and creativity going by showing excellence in leadership.

Want to develop your management skills further? Check out our open management training courses.

Thanks again


Mark Williams

Head of Training

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by Renjith Krishnan of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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If You Build It, They Will Come

What differentiates a great manager from an average one? That question comes up on our programs very often, and we have great discussions with managers who have tons of experience, as well as those just starting on their management career.

The key to excellence in management often relates to the results you achieve. And I’m not just talking about hitting your targets, financial or otherwise. I’m referring to how you get your people to achieve their results.

In the film ‘Field of Dreams’, Kevin Costner’s character heard a whispering voice tell him that ‘If you build it, he will come’. Not knowing the meaning of such an encounter, he sets about trying to discover his purpose. Having built what he feels is the right thing, the dream eventually comes true. The field he builds brings back his father, and the moving ending proves that he was right to follow the path he set out for himself.

Now, before I start blubbering again(!), it reminds me of what we always say on our programs about great managers: they create or build the environment for all their team members to be challenged, to develop, to grow and to be self-motivated.

If you want people to be applying to work in your department, to maintain loyalty from your current team members, to have a well-motivated, driving workforce, you need to build an atmosphere that attracts that kind of person.

So many people we talk to (who work for the managers we coach) tell us that the main cause of demotivation in the workplace is the management style adopted by their immediate manager. They are either too micro-managing, not supportive enough, don’t delegate properly, have little idea on how to motivate, or don’t trust their team members to get the job done.

This obviously creates a workforce that is not challenged, trusted or developed enough. No wonder people give up trying to grow their skills or bring creativity to work with them!

If you build it, that is, the atmosphere, environment, conditions for people to thrive, grow and develop, then they will come, they will bring their initiative and creativity, and with it, the results you are looking for. Build the environment for them to thrive; you will create the motivation and the drive for people to contribute. And you may create a motivational goal for your team as strong as Kevin Costner’s!

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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