November 2009

November 30, 2009

Top Managers – Experiencing the Sharp End

As managers, it’s easy to get busy doing the managing, quite understandably.

Yet there’s a lot to be gained from taking a little time where the real work gets done, where you team members are active – at the sharp end, where the action is.

Many managers are focused on the heady world of stepping out of the limelight and managing their businesses and teams from a distance – after all that’s what managing is all about, leading a team of people to do the work that needs to be delivered.

The challenge comes when a manager is sufficiently remote from the key work areas, that they find it hard to relate the reality their people experience to the management role they are showing to their team. And that remoteness can make a team ethic from being the way the work best gets done.

That’s when it’s important to get down and dirty and get with the people who do the real work. It’s time to spend some time at the ‘coalface’ and to really get to understand the experiences that their people have, each and every day.

Sure, a manager manages people and to do that best it’s vital to build relationships that work effectively with their team. To do that requires credibility and trust which only comes when those they manage know that they really do understand the issues they face each and every day.

Those very issues that make their job challenging and sometimes more difficult to do. Their job may become, in extreme cases, almost impossible to do well – and every manager needs to know this, finding out by being there, talking closely with them, failing to judge or argue, simply finding out how they are feeling and experiencing it first-hand too with and alongside them.

When a manager makes their mind up to get at these real-world experiences – where possible on a regular basis – of the challenges their people face, it becomes much more easy for their people to relate to that manager, as well as to understand what is – and even what isn’t – possible.

The view from the sharp end can be a lot different from that from the manager’s office way up in the executive suite.

The sharp-end is where it’s possible to learn more (often much more), providing a manager with the valuable – possibly even critical – insights vital to make the most of the manager-employee relationship. And that an incredibly important relationship with those who are ultimately, the people who deliver.

And there’s more, once employees see that their manager is prepared to get their hands dirty too, they will recognize their preparedness for the debates and discussion you all have together, creating much more of a cohesive team than ever before too.

A manager and team working closely together? Now, that truly is a goal worth working towards, now isn’t it!

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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November 19, 2009

Managers Are Sometimes Great!

Many times when I work with managers, I work pretty hard to help them see the influence they can have with their employees.

Most often, they respond positively and it’s good to see that their learnings back in the workplace – they are often extremely perceptive of what’s needed – are readily going to be applied.

Whilst my work may not be quite done at that point, there are some seeds that have started to sprout.

It’s always good to be able to recognize that the 25 years of experience I had as a manager is understood by those I work with, in their enthusiasm as they leave the workshops!

Enough of me!

You see, so often I experience management that really does not make the grade, observing managers who fall short in the behaviors they demonstrate.

As customers and clients that we all are, it’s managers and their influence that so often creates the experiences that we would rather forget.

Today, I had a really great exception.

In a garden center near Cirencester in the west of England, we settled to our lunch on the restaurant. It was a busy place on Sunday and the queue at the checkout was rather more than I really wanted.

The restaurant manager was manning the till and was under pressure (Tip: Never get yourself on a till point and unable to get off when you are the manager!).

Acknowledging his difficulty (and that the service he was giving was not good enough), he called one of the junior staff to get reinforcements.

The queue eased with help and one of his other team, who it seemed probably should have been on there, finally arrived to give even more help.

‘It’s a bit late now, we’ve cleared the queue!’, he said laughing!

There was clearly a good rapport between them in the way his humorous admonishment was taken with a glowing smile and a laugh too!

Further observation showed that manager to have great relationships with all of his staff, coaching, supporting and encouraging what was mainly a weekend team of students.

The lunch was great (especially the Black Forest Crumble with Custard!).

Observing excellent management in action was even better.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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November 11, 2009

Employee Motivation – What You Need to Know

There are many different ways that you can motivate the people in your business.

It is worth trying a few different activities (some formal – others less so), to ensure that you are responding to the needs of as many of your staff as possible.

Another tactic may be to present your staff with a few different motivation ideas and get them to give you their feedback on what they think would motivate them the most. In fact, just asking them will motivate them in itself!

Sending employees to training sessions outside of the business can be very good for them, as well as benefiting your business through better trained staff. It shows your employees that you believe that they are worth investing time and effort in.

You can consider and try out different sorts of incentive schemes in your business, to encourage your staff to perform better. These incentives can be changed every couple of months to maximize engagement and maintain staff morale and hence performance.

Another great way to get employee motivated is to be as open and honest with your staff about the direction of the business and allow them to have a say and give their opinions.

You might not realize this, but they are likely to have given their workplace some thought too and will have useful ideas to share on different aspects of the business.

Being a good listener and being approachable is a very personal way to build engagement and motivation. A good flow of communication throughout your business also helps maintain efficiency and effectiveness too.

Regular staff meetings in which your staff get to communicate openly with you is essential for you to keep a gauge on staff sentiment and for them to share their ideas and feelings with you.

Above all, employee motivation is a great, fun and productive area to spend some time on, collaborating with those involved directly where possible.

Many of the ways to motivate involve little or no expense, and, where you develop this focus and skill will stand you in good stead as you grow and develop your team and business.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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November 7, 2009

Delegation – All About Effective Management

As a manager, one vital thing you must do in order to delegate tasks or responsibilities, is make a list of activities that are worth delegating.

Then you will need to find a team member who you feel is best suited to doing the job at hand, even better if they can learn valuable skills along the way too.

Once you have that person in mind, you must then meet with them and identify the objectives and then create a clear plan of action (which should be realistic).

Don’t forget, be sure not to expect too much from the person to whom you are delegating the work the first time round. And you must always be on hand to help them should they run into difficulties.

Delegating tasks and responsibilities is something that you will be more effective with as you practice. Once you have learnt the fine art of delegating, you will soon find that you have more time on hand to devote to other and more important tasks.

At the same time you will find that your team of workers will also, once they get the hang of doing the things you have delegated to them, start becoming much more productive too, whilst enjoying these new challenges all the more.

Some of the things that will help you with active delegation include understanding basic leadership principles and learning that managing and leading are synonymous with delegating tasks.

You can also delegate better by developing your leadership skills whilst realizing that there will always be further room for improvement. So, don’t think that your job of delegating will end once you see your team members becoming more productive.

It is an ongoing skill that you will develop and evolve as you play with it!

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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November 5, 2009

Managing Time – It’s Up To You!

Those who are successful with managing their time often discipline themselves, especially at the start, sometimes by setting up their own time management goals.

This helps to change unproductive behaviors to be much more valuable. By initially focusing on getting rid of the most time wasting activities and then setting very specific goals on being constructive with time, effective managers often create much more space for themselves.

Reviewing progress towards effective time management goals will help track how successful the efforts have been.

There are plenty of tools to use for effective time management these days, from precise software or other proprietary tools. You could even simply just write down what you want to get done and what you are going to do with your time and see what that brings you.

By prioritizing goals and tasks for the day the most important tasks are likely to be done properly. Determining which tasks are crucial to be accomplished and which ones can be done another time – or even better, delegated, it’s possible to make much more out of the available time.

Once a routine for tasks is established, sticking to it becomes very productive indeed for managers.

Try setting time limits for certain tasks such as reading and answering e-mails during your day and using organized office systems, because by being able to access information easily, it will become easier and easier to save plenty of time.

And if you find yourself waiting for an appointment, there’s always time to catch up with your Blackberry.

Then again, now that you are so organized with managing your time, maybe you could just relax, safe in the knowledge that for once, at last, you really do have a little time to spare.

Filed under Blog, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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November 2, 2009

Confidence – The Holy Grail?

Giving your employees confidence is absolutely crucial in assisting them to reach their potential at their jobs, because having confidence probably affects job performance (and thus satisfaction) as much, if not more, than any work component.

Having the confidence to do the job well also makes a significant difference to turnover rates and absence, particularly in highly stressful roles. So, it’s a great skill to develop!

There are some great ways to help build the confidence of your people and you are able to deliver them all! Here are six easy ways you can build confidence in your team members – why not try one or two this week?

1. To start with, by offering them effective training opportunities before they begin their jobs, they will be able to hit the ground running and feel good about themselves and their contribution from the start. When you are able to continue to offer relevant training to challenge and expand the capabilities of them, their confidence will soar as they grow in their job!

2. As a manager, giving constructive feedback is very helpful to your employees, whether it be how to do a particular task in a more efficient way, or just encouraging them on a job well done and how they might be able to complete a task even better in the future.

3. And to really boost their confidence, it’s as easy as noticing what they have done, taking the time to say ‘thank you’ and commenting positively on their accomplishments from time to time.

4. Where appropriate, offering specific incentives – prizes even – is another great way to develop employee confidence further as well as enabling your team to have some fun along the way as well!

5. As a precursor to building confidence, every one of your employees needs to feel comfortable doing their job. When they feel insecure at all, they are less likely to do the task well and failing will only cause a loss of the confidence they have built.

6. When you are a manager and you have a team under you it’s vital to be approachable. You will encourage your people to take ownership of their work and feel some pride in doing their job well, without the fear that they are going to feel inadequate if things don’t quite go to plan. If they are intimidated by you, they are unlikely to be as productive because they will fear trying new things out. Those very new tasks that when they are successfully accomplished, will rapidly develop their confidence and encourage them to try more.

Employee confidence is probably the most essential asset to the success of your team. When your people feel confident, they do their jobs much better, are prepared to take on new challenges and above all, enjoy the work they do with you, building loyalty and commitment, which these days, are very valuable commodities in themselves.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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