November 13, 2010

Help – Who’s In Charge?

The best managers do what they are supposed to do. They lead and manage their people to deliver the outcomes that their role requires.

Be this in a business that delivers products and services; an organization that is there to serve the public or maybe a not-for-profit body who do their best for those who need help.

A manager’s role is to get the best from their people.

This means that they focus on that key role and ensure that they have a team around them whose purpose is to deliver the systems, processes and standards that are vital for the team to be effective and efficient.

And sometimes that doesn’t work so well.

Take the case of a junior team member who wants to take some time off.

A hard worker, always ready to go the extra mile and to do that little more, because that’s their way of being. They always find the time to get there a bit early or to stay on when the business needs it.

They need a couple of hours off to help a sick relative to go to a medical appointment and they are even prepared to swap their shifts around to cover their time.

They trip off to HR to ask for the time, because this is the agreed team process for getting a bit of flexibility into employees worked time, to be told that ‘it’s not allowed’, by the HR assistant (who is, by the way, only acting on instructions they received).

They go away with their tail between their legs cursing how good, flexible and committed they themselves are to the team, whilst the organization does not give back to them in their time of need.

Where manager’s delegate the delivery of activities that the team needs to have in place, there’s always the risk that ‘the rule’ that’s in place is going to lose sight of a bigger picture issue, where that’s the rule that is implemented inflexibly.

The bigger picture being the (often small) acts of goodwill that engender motivation and commitment from the workforce when they recognize the efforts that their people make inwards.

Whilst there needs to be a system to prevent chaos, every manager needs to be sufficiently in touch to be receptive to the open and honest feedback that’s vital to understand whether the processes are simply serving themselves – or the team is being served by that valuable process that’s so useful.

Is the dog wagging the tail – or the tail wagging the dog?

Good managers delegate effectively.

Great managers sound out their people, by creating interactive relationships that go both ways, to ensure that the whole delivery of delegated activities serves to team as a whole – and not just get the boxes ticked.

Whilst compliance is important – it’s not the most human of ways to be – that needs a manager to use the time they have freed up by delegating effectively, by listening to what’s happening at grass roots – and responding to their needs within a process that works for the team, and not otherwise just because it’s always interpreted in a straight line.

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

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October 13, 2010

Managing Performance – Building on Strengths

Most performance management systems for in larger corporates (and many smaller ones nowadays) these days focus on improving individual outputs.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The goal seems to be to up the average returns that each employee makes and inevitably this often has a focus on making areas of underperformance better.

Not much wrong with that then.

Except there can be. Managers who take the cliched route to mainly work with their people on those parts of their contribution that underperforms are following a well trodden path.

It’s easy to pick out areas where employees don’t deliver. Managers will have a sixth sense to sniff out those parts of an individual’s efforts that fall short of meeting minimal expectations.

The objectives agreed will so often focus on raising someone’s game to deliver at least the average in all areas of their work.

And this is exactly the wrong tactic to adopt.

We are all good at parts of the roles for which we are employed. There are few employees who are able to shine in every single aspect of their work. For we all have one or more achilles heels.

By swinging the impetus of performance management round, we can leverage some outstanding talents in our people.

There is momentum and motivation to be gained when we focus on the very best of our people and make much more of where they are best, rather than demoralise and weary them by insisting they focus on the weaknesses they show.

Indeed, overall performance of a team will grow significantly when we work capabilities harder, especially in each the team members that they are particularly effective in.

And you know what – you will be much happier, less stressed, with motivated and committed employees who love you for how you are with them.

And an improved bottom line will go down pretty well with your bosses too.

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

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February 7, 2010

Delegation – A Must-Read Introduction And Guide

When we delegate as managers, we create time and space for ourselves, to do more of what we alone can do best.

We add new opportunities to our people to develop their skills and evolve a much more capable workforce. What could be better…

The first thing to understand about delegation is that it simply does not happen on its own. As with any other kind of work that you have to complete, you will first need to learn how to manage a task properly yourself, so that when you do delegate it, the results will meet, if not exceed, your expectations.

There are a few essential steps that you will first of all need to understand, so as to be in a better position to delegate tasks effectively.

Communicating the activity outcomes clearly will ensure success. This means that you will need to start off by describing exactly what you expect the person to do, to specify when the job is to be completed and, of course, what kind of end results are necessary, on completion.

It is necessary for you to provide the context within which the work is to be performed. This in turn will mean that you will need to explain the reasons why you need the work done and its importance to the bigger picture of your workplace.

Finally, it’s worth sharing where there could be difficulties along the way and how these might be dealt with – if and when the complications arise.

It always pays to understand that you must be in agreement regarding the standards that you expect, in order to measure how successfully or otherwise the job has been completed. That said, obviously the standards that you require have to be achievable, as well as realistic.

Delegation – the free tool that gives you back your time and develops your people at the same time

What could be better than that?

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

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January 19, 2010

5 Ways to Delegate More – Today!

Try these five tactics, today!

  • Become more aware of others who share their important work with you – watch how well they do it – note the benefits; to them; to you! See – it works!
  • Note those things you do in your work, that someone else could and create a plan to give them all away within one week. Take time to plan it and show people what you want. Then plan to delegate more next week & on.
  • Can’t decide? What would you do if you only had half the time (note:- do not think tactical or fire-fighting here – someone else has (or should have) that job).
  • Ask your people what they would like to take on that you do now – where do you get in their way? Let them have it!
  • Encourage this down the line – who can your people share key tasks with? Be the model – help them do this too.
  • Figure out what you can do with all that lovely time. Scared? Don’t be – look for growth opportunities – people; marketing; future things (See ‘Q2 time’ – Begin with the End in Mind Chapter – Covey’s Seven habits).

Delegation is a valuable tactic to free up your valuable time, as well as enlightening your people with an understanding of the capacity they have to do more, learn and develop.

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

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January 7, 2010

Delegation for Managers – The Valuable Insights You Must Know

A critical aspect to properly delegating work, is understanding the need to grant some authority to the person to whom you are delegating the task.

This means that the employee to whom you are entrusting the job must take ownership, overcome roadblocks and be as self-sufficient in their work as you feel comfortable with.

To delegate work and tasks successfully also requires that you provide the employee with your complete support, identifying the resources that are necessary for the them to perform and complete the work entrusted to them.

At the same time, it also means that you must give sufficient backing by training and advising them, as well as provide all other necessary resources (such as time and materials), to ensure that as little as possible stands in the way of successful completion of the work to be delegated.

In the end, successful delegation means that you must be committed to getting the work done properly and you must also get your employee to agree to complete the work entrusted to them.

Properly done, delegating work is going to be beneficial to both a manager as well as their employee. In fact, the best managers use delegation creatively, helping their people grow with targeted delegated tasks, specially selected for them

By keeping your expectations realistic of the employees to whom you are delegating work to start with, they will grow into delegated tasks with confidence.

Remember, the most vital part of your role is to ensure that your people understand the task requirements and expectations clearly. Then you are much more the likely to get valuable results, with rapidly developing members of your team.

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

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December 7, 2009

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!


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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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 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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October 11, 2009

Show and Tell – And Stop

Delegation is a very valuable management tool.

It enables a manager to do less of the activities they don’t personally need to do, whilst enabling members of their team to take some of this workload and gain from it.

They gain from the valuable experiences they now enjoy as they explore new challenges and build up their skills, from the delegated tasks you creatively engineer for them – real tasks, suited to their needs as well.

This is a real win-win!

When the task is delegated, there is a fine balance between how intrusive a manager is in the ‘how’ of what they want the task done, as distinct from the ‘what’ it is that the task will deliver.

It’s so easy to overwhelm the person accepting the delegated task when you overlay your personal ‘how’ on them as the only way the task can be done effectively.

So a great way forward is to actually show the individual concerned what the outcome needs to be like – telling them what’s important to you in that outcome – and then let them get on with the exploring the best way for themselves.

When you watch a small child, they learn from you showing them things.

They also learn from those times when you supervise them loosely and they explore for themselves.

In both these circumstances, the time you let them be, is where they will find the most amazing of discoveries.

Your people are just the same.

They need to explore freely for the best value experiences for themselves and in the long run, to develop as very valuable and capable members of your team.

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

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