developing others

November 24, 2010

Feedback Develops Everyone

Ironically, it often feels easier not to give feedback. For most people, whatever their role, the concern with what can be seen to be a confrontation is so much easier to delay, prevaricate with and – in many cases – simply put off altogether.

And that makes matters worse, almost every time.

Here are three ideas to help you get past giving feedback.

1. Be Fast and Frequent

When circumstances present themselves to give feedback, see it as a very positive opportunity. And then give that feedback, because it’s there for the value it can offer.

Giving feedback needs to be a regular activity, so that you begin to overcome the fear factor that so often comes with those much maligned words, ‘Would you like some feedback?’

The more you give feedback – not forgetting that it can so often simply be positive, without that negative sting in the tail – the more your people will learn to like it and be less defensive. Indeed, the goal we all seek as managers is where we add value by providing great feedback as a resource.

The better you give it soon after the event, such that it’s still relevant and fresh too, will be more effective than a few days later. Delaying says much about your level of self-esteem.

2. Make Feedback Two-Way

Being prepared to accept feedback means that you walk your own talk and your employees start to see the real reason behind feedback.

It’s actually there to help.

When we hear feedback, unless the language, trust and environment is perfect, it’s very easy to be defensive in response.

When as employees, we see our boss able to receive feedback willingly, appreciate it and be seen to develop themselves too, we start to want some of that.

As managers, accepting and showing the changes we make when we receive it, means feedback starts to be seen as not the monster with which it is so often tarnished.

3. What Do They Think?

Giving feedback has a prior step. Ask people if they would like to give themselves feedback first, listen and acknowledge and then share yours too.

And remember, ensuring that you acknowledge their positives first, shows just how much you value them as individuals and helps encourage people to try a different approach in the future in those areas where they might be better.

Employees pretty much do 95+% of their roles really well, so showing them perspectives of the opportunities to be even better needs to reflect how good they are first.

Want more? For 10 top tips on Effective Feedback, checkout here

Filed under Blog by Martin

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October 27, 2010

Losing Your Best Employees

Working with a client this week, I came across one of those situations where a manager’s emotions can get confused.

I recall a training video where the manager concerned feels that if he develops his people enough, then they might be good enough to, well, get promoted and then they would leave him. And his misguided concern is that they will leave him to struggle!

The situation this week was similar. It was time for the manager’s trainee to move to a new deputy role, in a different arm of the business.

The manager was noticeably glad for the trainee, yet I could also sense a hint of sadness that he was losing a valuable member of the team – one who he’d nurtured himself to an enhanced level of performance.

In fact, losing people to new challenges – especially when they have developed to their potential – is pretty much always a good thing.

Managers who deliver great team members who are capable of moving onwards and upwards can celebrate with them – in more ways than one.

Firstly, that they (the manager) have done a great job. One where they have used their people skills to draw from that individual all the possibilities that they had within them.

Secondly, that the individual will be moving on to better personal opportunities for their own future (not least they often get a pay hike too!).

Thirdly, that they will learn more somewhere else – after all, one manager simply cannot provide all the growth for an individual.

Finally (and I’m aware there might be even more positives that others might be able to provide here), there’s another upside that all managers can draw from good people moving on.

There will be another new trainee right along soon. And there’s nothing like a new challenge to keep a manager sharp, engaged and able to reflect on how they themselves can evolve, as they start along the path to create new excellence from another raw recruit.

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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August 24, 2010

Keeping Your Team Members Happy

A manager’s role is to build successful teams that deliver the business. We aim to seek for higher and higher performances from those we encourage, cajole and develop.  How do we keep them all happy?

We strive to create refined, capable people to inhabit our teams. The results we seek cannot be delivered by us alone, because simply we cannot do it by ourselves.

Like the soccer coach – the results come from those who cross that white line for us. All the plays the team practice during the week, are for nothing if they don’t deliver ‘when Saturday comes’ – as they say!

As managers we have to hone their skills, tactics and flair for then.

Yet what happens to our people when we’re done developing them. When they can grow no more in the circumstances that we are in a position to offer them?

Indeed is it possible that they can grow no more with us at their helm? Could that be possible?

The simple answer is – of course they can reach a peak in the team we have them in; with the support and challenge we help them with.

And sometimes, when they achieve that zenith, we have to make the more courageous decision to let them fly off and seek a new level of opportunity, to make the next leap.

Successful management is not simply about building a team that serves us well. It’s much bigger than that.

When we help create fulfilled employees, the bigger picture is where we have to be brave and let them go. We have to celebrate the success they achieve with us and – where this is what they want – prepare them for a bigger stage to explore and reach for the next level, with our support and enthusiasm.

In soccer, managers of smaller teams strive to create better and better players for the good of the team and then, whilst it may be a sad time, encourage them on to bigger teams; new arenas and bigger opportunities.

That’s where the bigger managers stand out – loving the growth they see and then accepting – no, encouraging – their people to be the most they can – even when that means moving on.

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

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August 9, 2010

Waving The Management Magic Wand – Part 2

Last week, we looked at how to make more of the opportunities you have to make things different.

Wafting your own magic wand around yourself and the way you do things is one thing, but how can you use it effectively to ‘magic’ better ways of doing things from your people?

BTW, if you have one of these – let me know and I’ll patent it.

Because here’s the secret. You can only change yourself and you cannot change others directly, however hard you try.

Now, what you can do (and successful managers do this very effectively), is to amend your own behaviors and attitudes to influence your people to be different. When they are different, they will see better ways to be and then the delivery of their work will improve.

The ball is back in your court.

So, here’s an action you might want to think about. What are the issues that you come up with that are your ‘I wish…’ moments with your people.

Then, what are ways that you could start to amend the way YOU are, that might be more likely to get the performances that would help them grow and develop into what you want?

Don’t know? Then ask them what they need to be different from you – and how that will help them.

This tactic makes the difference in so many ways.

You partner with them in solutions; you show that you are willing to change; you show you are not the smart-arse who thinks they know everything; you show you value them for their input too (there are more benefits, by the way…).

In the ‘Circles of Influence’ in your life, you are at the very center.

Make it worthwhile the only way you can, by looking inside first, before you seek to blame others.

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

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March 20, 2010

Management Development Tips – The Simple Art Of Coaching Your People

There are many ways to develop those employees that you have within your team. Some are more productive than others and depend on your own, personal management style.

The easiest way is to ensure that you use the momentum each individual has within themselves.

When we manage, we use the services of the individuals in our teams, to pull together to create a valuable return on our investment in them.

A lot of a manager’s time is spent focusing on ensuring that they do what we want them to do and chasing them till they do.

We can fire instructions all day long – and then tomorrow, come right back for more which, frankly, makes for a day’s hard work, every day of your career.

Or we can coach.

Over the last few years, coaching has got a bit of a reputation.

From a weird and wonderful ‘mumbo-jumbo’ new age activity (the ‘life-coaching’ thing), right through to seriously expensive executive coaching at the highest level, coaching comes in all shapes and forms.

For managers, it’s a behavior; a style of way of working that’s useful and effective and doesn’t require loads of time one-on-one and face-to-face with someone sitting across from you in your office for a couple of hours.

Coaching is best done in the informal relationships you have with your people, in the easy and regular conversations you have with them all the time.

The truth is that it’s not hard to find out for yourself what coaching is all about – and as you master it as a skill, you will have all you need to be a very effective – and attractive – manager style.

There are books and programs out there that offer instruction and advice about what to do first and second and last. The truth is that coaching isn’t that difficult at all – the experts and gurus just make it out to be!

Forget the huge expense and months, if not years, of exclusive and extravagant training, be it online, via conference call or as many away-days that you can squeeze in.

It’s always best to find ways to make it easy for you, with relevant, quick and simple action steps to use every day, to help you make the most of this amazing skill.

When you seek the information you need to understand what coaching is all about, you want to find only as much as you need to make this work really well for you. The information and skills you seek will be geared to simple application and practice, leading to a growing confidence inside yourself with results to boot.

Coaching is not at all complicated, whatever you might hear, especially at the level a manager needs. Good questioning and listening skills, mixed in with a healthy dose of effective relationship building and you’re there.

And it is probably the most powerful management skill you can use, in whatever business or organization you are in, at whatever level of experience or skill you currently have.

Because having a coaching attitude, overlays everything we do in the way we support guide and manage those in our care as managers.

And that’s very powerful indeed!

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Management Development Tips 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 1, 2010

Managers Playing Ignorant – Developing Employees

Sometimes, it’s easy to show that we are the boss, by always having the answers that our people need.

Yet the smartest managers don’t always share the answers they have.

Because any manager wants to be the resource their people need. In fact, being able to solve problems your way is a great way to remind your people that’s the reason you are their manager, because you know the way to fix things.

Sometimes though, it will be valuable to be less than the cleverest person in the team, because letting them find out will help them in bigger ways as they develop and grow their skills.

The biggest challenge you will find in using this activity will be you. Your people will love it as they are utilized to share their ideas and solutions.

So, are you big enough to try this and not be the resource every time for the problems your people bring you, showing your ‘manager prowess’ off to fuel your own self-belief, important though that is in itself?

Many managers feel that by letting go of being ‘solution-finder’ they will lose respect, yet, quite simply, the truth is the opposite. Because no-one likes a know-it-all, so they stop respecting and start mocking any manager who seems to be perfect.

In fact any manager who decides to be Mr/Mrs Fix-It to all and sundry every time, will really struggle under the pressure and do a far worse job, because their people will start to dump problems that they certainly could resolve themselves on that smart manager’s desk.

Letting go of the ‘Fix-Everything’ persona is much more than how you perceive your people will see you in the world.

You see, you WANT to be the big cheese who solves everything. It’s an ego thing. And it’s only going to stand up for a while.

If you are big enough to make this small transition, your people will respect you much more when you are their development guide and show you value them by asking them for their own ideas and solutions.

Stretching, challenging and guiding them gently in much more appropriate and value-creating for your people over time.

Saying ‘I don’t know’ sometimes, is perfect for that and will raise you up in their eyes as long as you use this tool wisely and not every time you have something presented to you.

This is about disciplining yourself, in the moment, and expanding your React/Respond gap.

When you play with that, use delaying tactics and decide if ‘I don’t know’ will work this time, you will have a vital option that will make a much bigger difference to the performance of your people and team, than might have ever been possible before.

Filed under Blog, 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 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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