Building the Future

March 9, 2010

Managing for The Future Adds Value Today

Management is naturally in the moment. Challenges come to managers every day, hour and even less.

Yet there is wisdom in developing a mindset that seeks and effective future for the team too.

From experience, most managers don’t get ‘the future’ right away – they busy themselves with just today’s issues, which is, to be frank, quite understandable, if a bit short-sighted. Their days fill up with chaos and fire-fighting, because that’s where the urgency seems to be.

Crises are seemingly sent to make the day’s workload – every day – with only a hope that things will ‘get better one day’.

This is no way to exist, yet so often it’s a hole that managers get into and find it hard to clamber out of.

So, tactical activities have to be handled and, of course, for some of them, they take a bit of the priority in the day job to start off with.

There is another way to make progress as well. The best managers are able to recognize that it’s vital to step up to grasp the future, fitting components of it in whilst delivering what’s expected of them for today as well.

Planning for the future opens a lot of doors for you and every member of your team, in ways that can only lead to management and team success.

That success, when it is pitched the right way, will lead to improved opportunities in the future as well as, when leveraged well, making the workplace of today a lot less chaotic too.

Managers often look for short-term tactical solutions, rather than invest a little time in thinking about what their future needs are. yet, with some ability to ask what the future might need, they are able to position the short-term with the business needs for the longer term too.

The alternative is more of the same, which is depressing and demoralizing for all concerned, managers and their teams.

When ‘perception’ is that they only have time for the fire-fighting actions to get them through the day, rather than value-creating investment time that makes the difference, the struggle of today will be the same tomorrow – and the next day and the day after, disappearing over the horizon into every day.

As a consequence, looking at future needs doesn’t ever get started and before they know it that future is tomorrow – and then today.

Strangely, nothing has changed or gotten better – and the cycle continues. By grasping an opportunity to stick a stake in the ground right now and start to see what the future will need, there will be solutions sought and found.

Along the way, today begins to get fixed. And everyone gets happier and more effective too.

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

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March 8, 2010

Win-Win Management – Finding Small Gains To Start

As we set out to build relationships with our people, it’s vital that there is every opportunity to make progress.

And sometimes, you can be in the driving seat to make that happen.

Managers need the support of their people to build teams that will have positive impacts on the running of the business – and the outcomes that are necessary.

To make the most of this, good managers create valuable one-to-one relationships with as many employees as they can, such that rapport builds and creates win-win opportunities, where both sides get positive benefits from the interactions.

Where there is repair work to do – as new managers often find when they take on an existing team – perhaps where the previous manager has underperformed, the progress to rebuild trust can take a little time.

Employees who have suffered consequences of poor management relationships will by pretty shy when it comes down to exposing themselves to more painful experiences in the future.

So, this is when the manager really starts to earn their crust. Their efforts at this time will really need to demonstrate a changed workplace environment for the better, through the immaculate way they interact with their people.

There are many ways to rebuild relationships. There are ways to start them off too, but the key impact when things haven’t gone so well in the past is the white flag of peace to offer. Sometimes this can be enough for those forgiving types in your team.

Others will be less easy to turn around. They may be scarred more badly and will need real evidence of goodwill on your part, to accelerate the healing that will need to take place.

Managers can position themselves to make upfront gestures towards their people to more rapidly progress their collaborative input. Small actions to show their willingness to move relationships forwards are hugely valuable.

Be it a small gesture of thanks; an idea shared to help a learning need; simple trust building activities; remembering the name of an employee’s child; recognizing when they need to listen much more than speak.

Taking the first step to enhance a relationship with small gains for your people will quickly start the ball of a bond rolling. Once that happens, there are short-, medium- as well as long-terms gains to be enjoyed, on both sides.

The most interesting aspect of this is that although a manager is offering small gains to their people as a constructive activity to develop the relationship between them, make no doubt about it, this investment is one that will pay off over time for them too.

The key to building effective relationships is that both sides see benefits for themselves, whilst – and this is significant – allowing the outcomes to make the business more effective, efficient and organizationally valuable too.

So there are winners all the way round, just from a manager being prepared to stick their neck out and offer upfront value to a maligned bunch of employees.

And changing their views of the possibilities that can come from good management forever.

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

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March 4, 2010

Team Building – Finding The Hidden Gold

Managing teams in your organization is a challenging experience.

Finding the right people for the roles you have can be a tricky proposition, yet when you take the time to get to know your people, you might be surprised what you find.

We all want the best people in our team. The demands placed on us to deliver results from our role as managers are unremitting as must our search for the best people.

Surprisingly, there are individuals around who might offer more than you think. Employees that you already have in place can often carry talents that are hidden away, for a variety of reasons, so there are tactics a manager can adopt to ensure that all potential is realized.

Here are a few to get you started…

1. Keep your ears and eyes open – and engage in conversations that are curious about people.

Whatever happens, even if there are few gold nuggets out there, the worst thing is that people see you are interested in them.

There’s a zillion managers out there who aren’t at all interested in their people much at all, so you will immediately get brownie points at the very least!

2. Know that there’s talent out there – that you can bring out.

People have all sorts of skills, experiences and histories that might be of value, if only you knew about it.

You can’t find that out unless you get amongst them and find out!

3. Your people will hide their aspirations
– because they think you aren’t that interested in them.

Sad but true, work experience isn’t the best place for people to see the generous nature of managers.

Far from it. In fact their experience will tell them that a manager may well not even care to know their name.

4. You can make it happen for them
– when you know about it.

When you do find out about what they are looking for, it’s a real big help to you, for them and you and your business.

Your role can be enabling for them, by kick-starting new careers that their capabilities could support.

5. Management is often about joining the dots
– that you’ve discovered.

See where this is going?

As a manager, your prime role is to lead and facilitate the people in your team, not to do everything yourself.

When you are that link, with what you find out, then there’s a whole new bunch of opportunities out there.

Listening to your people, letting them spill their hidden talents as well as their hopes for the future, can be a true win-win.

6. Management is about people – not doing stuff, however attractive that might be.

No-one minds a manager giving a hand now and then, it’s a choice, not to be depended on. But the role is about people, managing them is the headline, yet it’s so much more.

Great managers are there to make the best business decisions and these can easily be the best people decisions too.

In fact, when there is a coming together of business needs matched with individual’s possibilities, there can be no better way forward.

Your people are chock-full of potential. Releasing it will help you, help them, to make your team much more successful.

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

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March 3, 2010

Five Management Benefits Of Over-Delivering To Employees

Many employees have limited expectations of those that manage and lead them. Their life and work experiences tell them to be cautious about what might be realistic.

Giving your people what they expect from an employer is not a major challenge.

The simple things like getting paid the right amount and on time, having reasonable working conditions and being respected are pretty much the minimum (and so often what employers find a tough act to deliver on, simple though it might sound).

Going a bit further can have a profound influence on how employees respond. That extra mile will have a huge impact on how well they do their job, how long they stay with you and how they interact with each other and their customers too.

Over-delivering to your people has great advantages. They are ready and waiting for you to be like all the other bosses they’ve had before and as such, in a quirky and almost negative sort of way, they expect you to be no better.

So when you are, it’s a huge void filled. And they will love you for it!

Here are five key benefits that you will gain by going just that little bit further for them, each of which will make the difference!

•    Building Trust
– when you do a little more beyond expectations, it builds the trust between you and your team members. Trust is a critical aspect of the relationships that you build – and more. When you want to be trusted, over-delivery is a big plus, because employees recognize that you care for them more than they are used to.

•    Developing Relationships – by doing that bit more than expected, the partnership is strengthened, extended even. With this you will be able to get back at least as much as you put in.

•    Making Deposits – as Stephen Covey describes in ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, by going that bit further with what you do, you create a deposit in the emotional bank account between you. These deposits need to be in there before you can ask for withdrawals, especially when you want them to go that ‘extra mile’.

•    Showing the Way – if you want your people to behave in a particular way, you need to be an exemplar of what you want from them yourself. By regularly over-delivering – naturally rather than just when you want something – you will start to see them emulate your behaviors too.

•    Being Innovative – and often the way you over-deliver will show that you can be creative in the way you work with others. This creativity encourages others to come up with their own innovative ways to respond to other colleagues needs as well.

Overdelivery need not be rocket science for your people to feel special. If you are prepared to go a little further for them, there are rewards out there that are pretty much untapped as yet.

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

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February 28, 2010

Seeking Win-Win – The Relationship Buy In

The core of all business relationships is parity. They are about the negotiation between an employer for output, in exchange for reward, the basis of which is usually a financial transaction.

So this is a fair deal then.

The best relationships serve everyone well. The term win-win comes from the need to ensure that both sides are served adequately from the interactions they have together, such that there is an appropriate return for all.

And a return that is seen to be for the benefit of all too.

There are challenges in trying to secure relationships that balance outcomes that are felt fair on every side. When we manage others we usually find that – as managers – our financial rewards and benefits are greater, so when we want interactions that are effective, we need to do the best by our people as well.

In fact, to get past the traditional differences between managers and employees, we have to be doubly sure that we look towards meeting their needs as far as we can – or better.

Win-win is not, you see, measured on financial reward alone, even though it is often the headline. That said, there clearly needs to be a sense of reality to ensure that people are appropriately rewarded, of course.

Managers can make a huge difference to the relationships they have with employees, to create benefits other than simple material reward.

Good managers acknowledge this and make savvy interactions that count in their favor. By making the time to enhance the workplace experience for all their people, there is much to offer when the possibilities are carefully considered and a little time invested.

By taking the time to be aware of (and always acknowledge) contribution; to develop and coach; to provide career opportunities and to simply provide time for people, as well as the regular interplay that goes on in typical informal conversation-making, managers have all the cards in their hands to make the relationships work so that everyone is a winner.

Take care to note, however, that the onus is on the manager to make the running when it comes to relationship-building, because many employees find it difficult to be confident enough with managers to be equal in the relationship to start with, so they need your help.

With focus and consideration, together with practice and feedback, any manager has a hundred ways to start off good relationships, so there will always be a key to open up an understanding with any and everyone in your team. Sometimes it will take a while to find it, so perseverance will be needed.

Once you get the buy-in with your people – one-by-one – there will be huge benefits for everyone, ensuring that win-wins, through the interactions you have with each of your team members, is the full fruition of the efforts made – on both sides.

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

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February 26, 2010

Management Development Tips – Learning Opportunities Are Everywhere

As most managers will tell you, learning our trade is a life-long experience that never stops.

The learning will come from many different sources, when you care to look…

From the first day we take on the responsibility of management, to the day we finally step back, there are always improvements we can add in.

We will develop our skills in the workplace through the experiences we will have.

We will enjoy learning through training programs we are fortunate enough to undertake – where we take the learnings back to implement in our own way, back in the workplace.

Yet there are many opportunities that can be very creative indeed, often outside the workplace, which are all around us, if only we look.

Here are three examples, which might sound a little wacky, yet are stimulating and intriguing possibilities that can excite a manager’s development, when prepared to take a risk or two in thinking outside that box.

Time to give it a go!


Sometimes just a walk in the park is enough to trigger some thinking that will develop the way you manage.

Have you seen the flight path of a green woodpecker? It’s flap-flap-flap/rest. Effort made till the right speed is achieved and then take a break. Efficient management is more effective with breaks in the energy devoted.

Why do some tree shoots make it when others don’t? What’s the link to your management?


Metaphors from nature, are perfect for giving a totally different perspective to issues that you face and as such are huge assets for the future.

Metaphors are where a descriptor can be applied in a number of situations where they find some sort of relevance.

If you look for them, they are around.

How can the release of 1,000 white balloons be related to what you do? What is the relevance of traffic light sequencing? Why are snowflakes so symmetrical?

Sound weird? Maybe. But then again, if you create one more tool in the box from watching hang-gliders on a thermal-rich afternoon on the scarp side of a hill or how dolphins school together their prey on National Geographic, it’s worth it.

What stories can you apply to the management you offer?

Off The Wall

Whilst there are ideas that are a bit wacky like those mentioned about, there can be much to gain from speculating yourself as you go.

In these cases, it would be easy to deny relevance and move on past. Slow down though – wait. The inkling you felt came for a reason. Where you feel there is a draw for you to linger and be curious, try going with your flow for a while and see just where you are led.

Developing your skills as you progress as a manager is valuable for you. How you go about it will be different for everyone.

We all learn differently, so it’s often good to see things in as many different ways as you can and be brave; take risks, see from the world around you what might work in the team you lead.

Big – and small – ideas may come from well, anything really!

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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February 24, 2010

The True Value of More Than Satisfied Employees

Many organizations strive to have satisfied employees – they even create surveys to ensure that their people are feeling OK at work.

Today, in the business environments we now have around us, that’s simply not good enough.

Having employees who are satisfied with working with you is a good thing. In fact, when you see the numbers, many people simply do not enjoy work at all.

It’s no way to live your life, through just existing during your working hours – probably the biggest proportion of hours you spend awake.

Having highly motivated employees is one of the ‘holy grails’ of business. It’s great for the work they do. It’s even great for them as people too – so it’s a great way to have in the workplace you lead.

The great news is that as a manager of your team of people, you can satisfy and motivate them all pretty much on your own. Every action you need to take is within your control, with perhaps the small exception of the pay level they receive, which in larger organizations can be trickier.

Employees who are incredibly focused on delivering the results – and beyond – that you want from your team, are the aspiration of every manager.

Yet even with this knowledge, it’s amazingly challenging to achieve by all but the few managers who have unlocked the door to success.

One reason for this is that many managers simply fail to appreciate the value of turbo-charged employees and the vital difference they can make.

A difference not only to the performance of the business, but also to the pressures and stresses on the manager, as well as the culture that exists within the workplace overall.

‘Satisfied’ people in your workplace has that cozy feel to it. It’s a term used to measure how people feel about their workplace and, to be frank, is an absolute minimum.

However, having a well-motivated team is an energizing, challenging and truly remarkable experience, which everyone who leads others and achieves, will always remember fondly.

Highly motivated employees are a much bigger, brighter way of being, than simply satisfied, so it’s time to raise the bar and ensure we’re working on having a bunch of really switched-on employees, rather than settling for merely ‘satisfied’!

Simply by taking the time to appreciate the ways that you yourself feel motivated and replicating that is a great place to start.

Appreciating contributions that employees make is one way; making time to spend with them one-to-one is another.

Just by noticing a job well done and saying a personal ‘Thank-you’ is another. By treating them as actual human beings with feelings in your team is another.

These might sound like simple tactics to adopt, yet so many managers fail to show these small civilities. By taking just that fraction out of your day, you will start to develop employees who are one or more steps beyond feeling merely satisfied.

And everyone will be a real beneficiary of that.

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

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February 22, 2010

Using Visioning Activities to Lead to Future Success

It’s easy to get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of your existence as a manager from day to day. Surviving even in the short-term can become a challenge – and that’s on a good day!

But what about making it better into the future? What can you see?

The future is the way forward. Good managers understand that their day job – whilst important – is not just about overcoming the crises and fire-fighting that fills their days.

It’s vital to see the current as a stepping-stone to a future which is more relaxed, creative and stabilized. So many times, it’s easy to say ‘There’s got to be a better way’. The good managers do something about this.

Whilst having a sense of what the future might need to be, there’s nothing like experiencing it, as close to first hand as you can get. This might require a bit of imagination and letting go of current challenges, but it is a refreshing way to understand that things can change.

Grasping, as openly as you can, the possibilities that the future holds for your team is all about experiencing ‘What good looks like’.

In fact, with an element of trust and belief, there are ways that the best managers help their people practically live the dream of their workplace being how they want it to be, to be the very best themselves too.

Visioning is the activity of appreciating fully what you want to achieve, in very sensory ways. It’s about helping your people put themselves in a position where they experience in their mind’s eye, the experiences they would have when they achieve the dream of perfection in their working day.

Being able to ‘see’ where you are aiming for builds a real appreciation of what it is that you expect from your workplace, if it is exactly how you would like it to be.

Now, timescales for achieving this will always vary, depending on the circumstances that you decide to use visioning for – that’s for you to decide.

The key to using visioning techniques is to remember that you will be using all of your senses to describe the future in as detailed a way possible. It’s not just what you ‘see’, it’s what you hear, feel, smell and even taste along the way!

You want to know what ‘perfection’ is and what you will fully experience when you get there.

This is a bit like goal setting with the twist of having a fun experiential playtime too!

You can appreciate why this can be so exceptionally powerful to draw out the most fascinating expectation you – and your people – can have together.

You can work on a vision on your own; together and, if you want really smart, you can use both together!

Visioning is a powerful tool to draw the best expectations from your people for the future that you can build for your team, together.

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

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February 21, 2010

Meeting Your People’s Expectations

We humans are easily satisfied.

When we are given clues about what we will receive, we naturally will expect it to be delivered.

We have a natural tendency to trust others, until life and its experiences knocks the naivety out of us (oops, does that sound cynical?).

Your employees experience this every day, where they have expectations of you and your organization that might well be pretty minimal.

And you, as their manager, have an obligation to deliver at least that minimum.

In fact, you personally have an obligation to meet their experiences of their employment with you – even if you don’t know what they are!

How so? You might ask. How can I know if they don’t tell me what their expectations are?

Here’s a clue that’s as blunt as I can make it.

You ask them.

See, that wasn’t hard now was it. Once you’ve researched, then you know – and then you make sure you deliver.

That’s if you want to create a motivated team of people who will give their all.

It’s your choice – make it easy for yourself or make it hard.

Have a think and if you need to – see the light!

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

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February 20, 2010

Using Relationship Building to Uncover Hidden Employee Talents

You have great people around you in your team. However you view them, you will be surprised at the capabilities they have inside.

If only you could find a key to unlock that door…

We all have potential. Like Tony Robbins says, we have ‘Unlimited Potential’ within each of us.

As a manager of a team of people, it’s going to be a whole lot easier if you are able to make more of the assets that you have, than try to find better out there. Leveraging those you have around you, requires a real application of your own skill – and that is the unlimited potential within you!

The biggest challenge for any manage, is just how to go about unlocking the abilities that their people hide away. They keep their own hopes and possibilities tucked away, because they have had experiences in their lives that put them off sharing themselves openly to others.

They lack trust, because it has sometimes come back to bite them in the past – and like any of us, they don’t want that experience again!

One of the vitally important purposes of creating constructive relationships with your people is all about bringing back that trust they have lost. Because when they trust you more, you will start to glimpse more of what they are about.

By making the time to get to know them well – and they you – slowly and surely every one of your people will trust you better, opening them up to your support, encouragement and yes, providing the challenges they can respond to.

This will take time and particular effort on your part.

Every one of your people will respond differently, because their life experiences will have set defenses at different levels. We defend ourselves against the pain we suffer from the unpleasant experiences we have had and whatever the cause, we put barriers up to avoid that pain again.

Whether it was a parent who criticized us as we grew; a teacher who had no skills to deal with different pupils. Whether is was a mentor who was so self-centered that they failed to appreciate your differing needs or simply a bully-boss who was plain ignorant. People lose trust – and that’s what holds them back.

The purpose of relationships that work is to build trust by listening without judgment; supporting any circumstance (however frustrating that can be!); encouraging even the most despondent.

As we progress our interactions with our people, we will see progress – sometimes slowly – in most of our employees. Gradually taking steps to open the doors to the potential that lies beneath, we see the possibilities and gradually, the self-imposed reins that hold them back start to ease.

The purpose of the relationships we have is to grow our people, leading to success for ourselves through the potential we release; leading to success for those people whose have been hiding their talents.

It’s as simple as that.

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

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