employee development

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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February 14, 2010

Management Listening – The Vital Ingredient In Employee Development

There are many tactics managers adopt when they are interacting with their teams.

On a one-to-one basis, nothing is more important than the capacity to take the time to listen effectively.

Getting to know your people well is one of the most important activities for anyone in a management or supervisory position. Armed with good knowledge about your people, you can make effective and often rapid progress.

Taking the time to spend with them, as often as you can and as one-to-one as you can is the first step, but what do you do with that important time?

Whilst many might say that spending the time telling them about your ideas and plans for the future; the way you want them to work for you and what your expectations are would be right, there is one activity that is much more important.

Taking the time to listen to them, closely where possible, is an incredibly important behavior for any manager to demonstrate, as often as they can.

So, why does listening matter as a tool to develop your people? Well, listening is the vital tool that will make you stand out as a great manager.

It has its twists and turns that you need to practice and that will enhance it as a productive skill for you as you evolve, because listening to others creates a partnership that is much more equal than the old command and control management structures.

Within that equality, you are able to leverage the perspectives, skills and talents that cumulatively, your people will bring to your team.

This is so much more than just you.

By listening carefully, you build your relationship and you help them develop. Your people learn that they themselves are powerful contributors and that you value them.

They learn as they speak as they see you listen, because it gives them the time and confidence to process thoughts and ideas as they go.

This works for many people in itself, whilst to be fair, some prefer to consider matters for themselves in their own time, yet with the time you’ve given them and that free space to air their thoughts, they will have a head start when they start to think through issues for themselves.

Listening shows them that you take them seriously and that their contribution makes a difference.

Whilst this might seem pretty much a given, you will be amazed at how many employees feel that they don’t matter and that ‘nobody ever listens’.

Even though you think you might have it right, there’s always scope to expand and learn yourself – as you listen.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics 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 17, 2010

It’s Not Them, It’s You

Author: Mary Jo Asmus

You’re leading a monthly meeting. You’ve asked your team members to provide their input on a topic. Unlike your teenager who at least shrugs his shoulders (or says “I don’t know”) when you ask for his opinion, you get silent stares from your team. What could be going on?

Are your team members incompetent? Do they even know enough about the subject to speak up? Don’t they know that their input is important? Actually, you may need to look to yourself and your behavior as the cause.

The behaviors you exhibit may be shutting your team down. Luckily, these behaviors can be fixed over time, increasing the likelihood that you will get the input you seek. Let’s explore the behaviors that may be preventing your team from speaking up:

You are not listening
Are you doing all the talking? Are you shutting people down or cutting them off?

You have ignored your team’s input
Do you have a history of asking for input and then doing whatever you think is right anyway?

You are asking the wrong kind of questions
Are your questions the kind that don’t foster discussion (yes/no questions for example)?  Are the questions you are asking ones that you already know the answers to?

You supply the answers to the questions
Do you ask the question and then supply your own answers? Are you allowing the silence necessary for your team to consider their answer (yes, silence can be a good thing in this case)?

You shoot the messenger
Do you respond with your opinion (often negative) to the responses you’ve received? Do you feel the need to judge every answer?

Are you showing impatience or temper?
Does your body language indicate that you are not getting the kind of answers you want? Are you rolling your eyes or sighing when a team member responds to a question? Worse yet, are you showing signs of anger or exhibiting outbursts?

Is it possible that any of these behaviors apply to you? Ask someone you trust to observe you and provide some feedback. If you find that you are exhibiting any of the behaviors above, you need to change your behavior.

You’ve lost respect – for yourself and for others – and are on a downward spiral. It’s recoverable. More about how to recover in the next post.

© Mary Jo Asmus is a a former executive in a Fortune 100 company, who now owns and operates a leadership solutions firm called Aspire Collaborative Services at http://www.aspire-cs.com

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Managing Me 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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