creative thinking

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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January 5, 2010

Creating Effective Relationships – The Valuable Benefits of Summarizing

There are many tactics that help develop the capabilities of your people. One that is always vital is when you build confidence – always a challenge for employees embarking on a development path. Yet there’s a tactic that’s very valuable.

Listening hard to one of your team and reflecting on what they have said is a simple skill to adopt when you need to help them feel that they are valued.

By reflecting back in a summary of what you’ve heard them say, you really will make a difference.

Apart from building an understanding that within people management skills as a whole, the way you hold conversations can be maneuvered to your advantage, let’s take a look at the key value you can gain here.

Summarizing as a tactic…

•    Shows you heard – that you listened closely enough, to sort out what they said and condense it into a coherent understanding. This sort of close attention to them makes them feel that you were interested enough to have heard and this, apart from building rapport…

•    Shows you value what they said – it was interesting; they are interesting and that you think they are a valuable human being. Believe it or not, but many people just don’t have that sense of themselves, for all sorts of reasons. You are different, you value them – and they like that, so it…

•    Opens the conversation to more – by summarizing, you show them that you engaged with them fully. It’s about helping them see that you are interested enough to hear more. With that encouragement, they find the confidence to keep going and then, of course, this starts to…

•    Stimulates their thinking – this ‘Time to Think’ is hugely valuable for creative thinking; development of ideas; analysis of pitfalls and more. The act of summarizing gets them to listen to what you have taken from what they have said and encourages them to challenge your perception, for right or wrong. That is, your interpretation might be different from what they meant and they start to consider that, not forgetting that what you are doing…

•    Builds the relationship – by showing you value them and are prepared to take the time to hear their input; their side of the equation; their hopes, fears, concerns about the issues. They recognize that you are an asset to them, which makes another difference as it…

•    Builds their confidence – because what they have said makes a difference; they have a value. When this happens, people really do want to do more and more. Your summary will show them that you notice that they can contribute and that you will ask them for more. When they find this, their confidence will soar. Confidence which is, always, one of the biggest drivers to developing themselves.

By taking a little time to manage yourself, as you engage in conversation with your people as individuals, you will emerge with very constructive possibilities, as they grow in confidence before your very eyes, because having the ‘boss’ show a real interest in hugely motivational.

It just needs your focus and attention to summarize as you go!

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

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