December 2009

December 11, 2009

Building Effective Business Relationships – It’s Just Personal

Building useful relationships in a business world is probably one of the most valuable actions anyone can take. Yet there are many challenges to ensure that it’s authentic and effective at the same time.

Finding a particular trick that makes the difference can save a lot of time and energy, as well as being a very profitable indeed.

We all have a passion.

In us there are certain parts of our lives that are very important to us and we love to spend time with them. These can be the work we do; the people we know; the hobbies and leisure activities we do; or the pets we have and love. In fact, the ‘hot button’ in our lives can be a myriad of things.

When we manage people, we need to engage with them on the most emotional of levels possible, to build the relationship by showing that we care about what’s important to them.

It’s not that we don’t care about their impact on the workplace, but it is more about showing that we know that work isn’t necessarily the most important thing to them in their world.

Once we have the knowledge we need to log into what’s important to them, we have to remember it on those occasions we get into conversations, by showing a genuine interest in the topic.

Whilst in our busy working lives this could be seen to be an imposition we could do without while focusing on the important things we do, it’s important not to underestimate the unseen, yet critical value this focus gives us.

By raising the issue of how their newest grandchild is; or how their scuba diving course went; or (and work is allowed too!); what happened when they were recently interviewed for a promotion, we endear ourselves to those that matter most to us in our work, those team members who deliver for us.

There’s a little more to gain too. When you show interest in what others are passionate about you find it a lot easier to remember names.

You encourage them to be very open with you because you show you care, building trust. You learn much about them that otherwise you would not.

Not least, knowing them better enhances your life too.

By remembering a little about your people, there is much more value to gain than you might expect.

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

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Employee Motivation – Here’s the Point

A business is really only as good as its employees. When you find good employees it is worth valuing them, investing in training them and grooming them for bigger and better things.

It takes far more money and time to keep finding new employees than it does to work on the ones you already have and improve staff retention rates.

Employee motivation comes when employees know that they are valued by their employer and they are treated with respect. Employees are more motivated when they feel like their work is being appreciated, they are treated well and that above all, they enjoy their work and like to contribute fully.

While looking after employees well is not rocket science, actively motivating their people is one that is often overlooked or not deemed particularly important by many businesses and organizations.

They could not be more wrong: high employee motivation leads to better performing businesses, because of the well-being of those employed there.

Sound pretty obvious really.

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

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December 9, 2009

How Your Employees Are Doing Their Best

Managers always want the best from their people and that means that they expect them to deliver results to the criteria agreed.

Where their people fail to show up with the outcomes they want, that can mean that failure is so often the only way to describe what happened.

Savvy managers understand that when things don’t go to plan, there are opportunities to learn and grow for those involved, because most employees want their actions to deliver successes, yet they are keenly aware that there will be times when this simply does not happen.

Depending on their experiences, individuals have varying comfort levels with their line manager, such that they will fear failure or appreciate an opportunity to improve to achieve the standards and results expected.

It’s important for managers to understand that however an individual performs is likely to be their best shot this time round. Most employees want to succeed, if not for their manager, for their own sense of pride of achievement too.

Not meeting the desired outcomes can be a painful experience for an employee, so it’s vital that managers recognize their efforts, even where they have fallen short.

Failing to do this is likely to heighten an employee’s sensitivities and confidence such that they may freeze in future, creating even worse performance.

One key action a good manager will take will be to investigate whether they themselves might have done anything differently to help their employee become successful.

By accepting that they can learn and sharing that with the employee who has not achieved the standards required, will help that employee too.

No-one is perfect. Everyone tries to be. Individuals need support to understand that imperfection is allowed and ultimately, doing their best and then learning to be even better is often the best we can hope for.

And doing their best and growing in a fertile learning environment is often enough.

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

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December 7, 2009

The Fine Art of Managing Exceptions

It’s vital for any manager to create a disciplined approach to the way they manage their team.

Discipline enables a focused approach with employees and the deliverables that are their required goals.

Team and individual discipline includes a number of rules and protocols by which every member of the team knows what is and isn’t acceptable. This is good for everyone, because each knows where they stand.

With the rules of the team being understood by all, this can be very freeing, actually enabling much more creative work, because the boundaries of acceptability are clear.

So, with all this in mind, what happens when someone on the team wants to behave in a manner which is normally beyond the agreed way of working? What does a manager do when what one of the team feels is quite acceptable as an exception to the rule?

In fact this can be the ace up a manager’s sleeve in how they build the team and it requires a secondary set of ‘unwritten’ rules that allow for exceptions. The key to this is that these unwritten rules are applied absolutely equally amongst the team.

Let’s say you are a retailer with a peak of business at Christmas. The written rule is that no-one has any vacation in the month of December. That’s a reasonable expectation for any employees who choose to work in that sector.

But what happens when a member of your team has a personal reason for asking for the rule to be overridden? What happens if their daughter wants to get married in the Caribbean on Christmas Day, with a few days beforehand to prepare for celebrations too? Is that permissible or not?

In these situations, smart managers allow an occasional exception to the rule in special, one-off circumstances, to show they care and understand what’s so important to their people. In fact it’s common sense, because any parent is going to attend whatever their employers says, so to lose a valued team member because they ask you to bend a rule is simply illogical.

Much better in such circumstances to allow it to happen, with strict controls and also with a strict management of any other people who choose to test this ‘rule’. After all, you could not manage the business if everyone chose to ask the same year.

That is, of course, quite unlikely, so where common sense prevails and you wave them of wishing them a great time, you will do much to create goodwill.

Of course, the rule within a rule needs to apply to everyone and needs to be seen as such.

But to deny your people reasonable, if exceptional occasions in their work environment is most likely a battle that will not see the organization as a winner, especially if those rules are not flexible enough to allow exceptions.

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

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Delegation – The Win-Win Skill

It is well known that effective leaders are those people who understand what delegation is and who also have the required skills with which to delegate tasks effectively.

A manager who is not good at delegating tasks to their people, will soon find that they have start to burn themselves out and have frustrated employees too!

The hallmark of a strong leader is that it requires learning to let go and being strong enough to put your faith in others to do things that you do not need to do on your own.

You must also appreciate that there is a right way to delegate things and a wrong way to delegate tasks. The wrong way will lead to failure, whilst the correct ways will ensure success.

The first thing that you need to understand is what the valuable means of delegating tasks to team members is. Most of us do not know where to start and so will struggle and even end up with having too much work to do by ourselves.

Experience is however a great teacher and so by learning through trial and error methods you will soon get the hang of it. This in turn does mean having to practice delegating tasks regularly on a day-to-day basis.

The key to valuable delegation lies in being determined that you do not abdicate your responsibilities. And this in turn will mean that you need to realize that it is not enough to just ask someone to perform a task and then forget about the task or the individual who will be doing the job for you.

In fact, delegating tasks involves managing risk and also micromanaging it, yet not the person!

Win-win?

Of course you free yourself from tasks that others could do just as well, they in turn learn new skills and the challenge engages then and finally, with such a developing workforce, you will never again need to worry about your succession plan – your people will be fully skilled whenever you need them!

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

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December 3, 2009

Increase Your Productivity Using Time Management Skills

Time management can be very difficult for some managers, causing them to keep putting off tasks that they don’t want to do, however important they are.

Others may take on too many things at once and struggle to accomplish anything of value much of the time. Managing your time to balance work and play can be difficult for many.

Of course you can’t actually manage time, only what you are using the time for. For us all, there are only 24 hours in a day and no matter how much it might be useful to have more, that’s is all we get.

By determining where you are wasting time you can quickly create more for yourself, just by being aware. One of the worst culprits is to spend too much time on valueless e-mails or phone calls.

You need to spend a little time, ironically, to figure out how you are wasting time, before you go about fixing it.

Filed under Blog, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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