The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
Experienced managers know all too well the frustration that occurs when an employee doesn’t listen to them.
There are stellar employees who understand everything from the first time and carry out the instructions to a tee.
It is never too early to start honing your management skills.
Even if you are just starting out in your career, you should focus on establishing credibility and leadership skills to show your boss that you are a natural born leader.
When I ask that question of managers, I normally get a negative response; that is, they don’t think there is one trait that should be singled out above all others. Much better to be a rounded-out manager, rather than depend on a one-size-fits-all skill that can’t be applied in every situation. Learn More
There are many leadership ideas out there that seem, at times, to be over-complicated and a bit unwieldy. Often, management is quite a simply design with some detail
woven in among the fabric of complexity. But if we were to really examine the roles of the people within our business, I believe we can divide them into three components.
The senior management team (MD, Chief Exec, Senior Board members, etc) should be spending a large proportion of their time working on strategy and vision. These are the people who drive the organisation, ensuring the plans are in place for the business to go forward. They create the vision for others to follow. They build the strategy for the business to run forward. They develop the values that everyone in the company lives by. They ensure everyone has confidence in the future. And they commit to the mission that will make the business profitable.
The middle management team consist of the people who apply the strategy, vision and values.They link in with the senior team to drive the mission forward, working to ensure the ideas generated from the people who hold the purse-strings are applied effectively. They provide the leadership for the teams working for them to actually carry out the work.
The final layer are the producers, the people who ensure the work is carried out, motivated and driven by the leaders above them who set the guidelines and ensure continuity of business.
Effectively, each layer should be ensuring they make it easy for the layer below them to carry out their jobs. By providing the correct vision, top management provide the tools for middle managers to lead the producers effectively. If the producers (the people actually going out there and selling, giving customer service, answering the phones, building the customer relationships, etc) don’t feel adequately led, they will feel unclear about their roles and responsibilities, and maybe not tap into their full productive capabilities.
If the leaders don’t feel their senior team have set the right vision or direction for the business to follow, they will not have the full commitment and positivity to drive producers forward to achieve.
It’s like a well-oiled machine that gives great performance when maintained properly, and causes alarm and distress when ignored and neglected.
Ask whether the Vision, Leadership and Production within your business is in complete harmony. If so, you have a smooth-running engine. If not, maintenance is needed to ensure its continuity.
Head of Training
Developed by Robert Dilts, the concept known as Dilts Logical Levels was actually adapted by a series of neurological tests and concepts designed by an anthropologist known as Gregory Bateson.
Robert Dilts took that research and applied it to what is now considered to be a map of the logical levels of change a person goes through when analyzing a problem or process. These levels can be applied on many levels, including personal, professional, and even in social situations.
The six logical levels include:
The away an individual feels about himself on each of these levels has a huge impact on the action he takes on a daily basis.
For example, let’s assume you must attend a holiday function at the home of your boss sometime this week but you’d rather go home and spend time with your family. You aren’t necessarily thrilled about the event, but you must choose how to react.
If you’re smart you’ll consider your behaviour before you walk out the door. The way you act will determine how successful you are at work in the New Year. Will you walk in the door visibly disgruntled, or will you put a smile on your face and act happy to be at the party?
Each of these six levels impacts the end result of any situation. The capability/strategy you choose will be a result of your beliefs and values. Your beliefs and values will be a result of how you identify with yourself as a person. How you view yourself as a person is directly impacted by what you feel your purpose in life should be.
Take a few minutes this week to sit back and reflect upon these six levels and where you feel you fit into the grand scheme of things. Look at yourself on both a personal and professional level. I think you’ll be surprised at what you are able to learn about yourself!
Often times when we discuss management we immediately begin to think of profit-seeking organisations, but truth be told there are quite a number of situations in which effective management is necessary. These can be broken down into two main categories: the aforementioned profit-seeking group or the not-for-profit group.
Profit seeking organisations include large businesses, small businesses, and even start-up businesses. Each has a unique set of management needs, but if you’re looking for a role model you should start by taking a closer look at some of the larger organisations in your area. They’re obviously doing something right from a management perspective. If not, they wouldn’t exist today.
Small businesses have crucial management needs as well. While you might regard management skills as less important in a very small setting, they’re actually more important. A bad business decision made for a large corporation may result in a loss but a mistake made by a small business may be devastating, even resulting in closure.
Non-profits require management as well. Just because they aren’t out to make a million dollars doesn’t mean there aren’t rules and procedures to be followed and implemented. Most non-profits still have a staff of employees and proper management is essential. Examples of non-profits include your local government organisations (though I suppose many would argue this point), educational organisations (your public schools), and healthcare facilities. You will also find management needs in less traditional settings, such as your local college fraternity, within organised crime groups, or in your local church.
Keep in mind that proper management and leadership skills are a huge part of everyday life almost everywhere you go, even in your own home. Start looking at the overall scope of management and you’ll begin to see how you can apply certain management principles to your everyday life in order to achieve your goals!
Managing a customer service team can be an interesting task. Unless you’re recording phone calls or listening in on conversations there is really no way of knowing if your team members are doing the job they’re supposed to be.
Ask yourself this question: How do you know that your clients receiving the best customer care possible?
Not knowing puts you in a bad position. If your clients are unhappy you might not find out until they’ve taken their business elsewhere. So what can you do to change this?
Hire Secret Shoppers
As silly as this may sound the concept is legitimate. You can hire a marketing research company to conduct a survey of your customer service abilities. These people will pose as customers, both average and difficult, and put your customer service team to the test. They’ll then report back and let you know what their experiences were, whether they were over the phone or in person.
Survey Your Customers
This can be done in a number of ways. You can send a postcard, email, or letter asking your clients to respond. As a manager, you might even pick up the phone and make a call to your larger clients, letting them know that you just wanted to check in and make sure their needs are being met. Most clients will open up and speak honestly if they know they are speaking to someone in an authoritative position.
Technological solutions, such as call recording or running computer reports, will give you the ability to tack what your employees are doing regularly. To those who think that amounts to snooping – think again. Your client files are public record and, if your employees jobs are to keep your customers happy you have the right to make sure they’re doing their jobs.
Don’t be afraid to step up to the plate and evaluate your entire customer service team. They’re the forefront of your organisation and need to be acting as such. Taking action now will ensure your customers are always happy, and happy customers are usually very loyal!
Today’s management model is relatively simple compared to some of the others. The product S-curve describes the path a new product takes when it hits the market. In other words, it’s the sales life cycle of the product. Here’s how it works.
A new product hits the market. It took a lot of time and money to create, so the introductory price is pretty high. In most cases the product will be purchased by those in the high end of the middle and upper-class income levels.
After time the price of the product will drop, at which point it becomes more accessible to a larger market, like the average middle-income and even some low-income households. Not long after, everyone will have this new product and the sales will drop off again.
The entire process, if outlined, really looks like a flattened “S”.
A manager with foresight recognises that the market is on its way to satiation. At that point you should be prepared to either launch an “improved” version of the product or something completely new.
Market satiation, of course, is a lovely goal but isn’t always realistic. It depends on the product you are selling and how much people need (or believe they need) it. The question really becomes whether or not you are prepared to move forward once your product sales hit the latter part of the curve.
Do you have a plan?
Today we’re going to work a little bit on our communication skills. As managers we have a pretty good understanding of the value of our total compensation package, meaning not only wages but benefits as well.
Unfortunately, most of our employees look only at their wages, or what they’re able to take home and spend. Many don’t realise that their benefits packages cost quite a bit of money as well.
Imagine now that you have an employee who has just entered your office to give notice that he will be leaving for another job. He truly believes he will be making more money, but upon further questioning you realise he will be making only a small percentage more when it comes to wages and he will be losing out on a large portion of his benefits.
What would you to do explain the overall value of the compensation package he is receiving from your organisation? Do you think your explanation would be enough to change his mind? What steps will you take to communicate how much the organisation appreciates his work?
These are two issues I have always dreaded: compensation and resignations. Putting the two together should give you a chance to look closely at each so that you’re prepared to address any situation that arises.
Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to stay motivated and productive than those who feel neglected and unhappy. Motivating your employees by throwing in a few incentives doesn’t have to cost a fortune and can actually be fun. Here are a few things to consider:
Reward your employees for their hard work and dedication by giving them extra time off, flexible schedules, or part-time hours on certain days. This type of time-based incentive works well for your most mature employees because they’ve worked hard for years and may be looking to make changes. Being flexible will allow you to keep a great employee while motivating him to stay loyal and remain in the workforce as opposed to retiring early.
Flex time during the holiday season is another great incentive. Allowing your employees to flex their schedules a little will have a significant impact on the number of last-minute callouts you experience as people become stressed over shopping and holiday preparations.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from employees is that their managers simply don’t understand how hard they have to work. Encourage your managers to give their team members a break by taking over their desks for an hour, half day, or even a full day. Your employees will feel appreciated and your managers will get a better understanding of how their employees feel as they work through their day to day tasks.
Take a Field Trip
Every once in a while, whether it’s once per quarter or twice per year, shut down for a half day and take your employees out to lunch, to see a movie, or even to the local arcade or bowling ally. Doing so will prove to your employees that you value their hard work and effort while at the same time promoting an enjoyable work atmosphere that your employees will look forward to each day. Some employees would rather earn a little less to work in a fun environment than take higher pay to work in a miserable place. Take advantage of your ability to promote a positive work environment.
All of these motivational techniques will keep your employees happy without you having to fork over cash in bonuses or extra pay. Your team members will appreciate your efforts and as they become happier with their jobs you’ll notice an increase in productivity – guaranteed!
Created by a man named Donald Norman, Norman’s Reaction Cycle is a model that has been used for years to analyze the steps individuals take as they move from simply forming a goal to actually accomplishing it.
There are two main steps in Norman’s Reaction Cycle (also referred to as Norman’s Action Cycle). The first is execution and the second is evaluation.
During the execution phase the person in question will form a plan or goal and take specific actions aimed toward reaching that goal. This phase includes everything from the mental processes involved in planning to the physical actions and movements one makes to reach the goal.
The evaluation phase is then used to judge whether or not the person in question has achieved the outcome or goal he originally desired. This involves comparing what one actually sees to what one thought they would see as an end result.
There are a number of subsequent actions that make up both the execution and evaluation phases. Execution involves having intention, creating a sequence of actions, and then performing those actions. Evaluation involves the individual’s perception of the result, determining what that perception means, and evaluating whether or not those perceptions are accurate or if they have meaning.
Norman’s Reaction Cycle is often applied in technical situations. Often times the person performing a task will have the ability to check his actions against a manual or list of instructions. In these cases, they are able to determine whether or not the manual was useful in reaching the end goal as well.
The human mind is an incredible thing. The ability to evaluate the actions we take is incredibly important when it comes to finding business solutions that work. The more open we are to change and critique, even from ourselves, the more successful we will become!
As a manager, you must act as a leader at all times. Your employees and team members will look up to you for advice, assistance, and sometimes to merely examine how you react to certain situations within the workplace. As you grow and evolve as a leader you’ll find that your employees are growing with you, so you need to set a positive example at all times. Here are a few leadership skills you should keep in mind and work to develop as time goes by.
A good leader must be versatile enough to deal with a number of different personalities, learning styles, and challenges. You never know how many people you’ll have to lead, through what type of challenge, or for how long. You must learn to be strong and adaptable.
Imagine that every single thing you say or do is being watched under a finely tuned microscope. Your staff will watch every action you make and upper management is likely watching you closely as well. Your verbal expressions, body language, and attitude will all reflect back on you as your team adapts. Do you have the type of attitude you want to see in your employees? If not, take action to change it soon!
We talk about the importance of great management and communication skills quite frequently, but what you need to remember is that your attitude and business ethic communicates just as much as your words and body language. Be consistent at all times, regardless of how or when you are communicating – casually, in a meeting, or in a conference.
Is your department a fun place to work, or do you have a reputation for harboring a stressful atmosphere? You need to take charge of not only delegating tasks but also of motivating your team throughout the day. Make your department fun with games, occasional casual conversation, or something creative.
You have control of how you are perceived as a leader. Carefully monitor your attitude and how you communicate with others and you’ll soon find your team members are looking up to you rather than wondering why you’re in charge!