leadership development

December 7, 2009

The Fine Art of Managing Exceptions

It’s vital for any manager to create a disciplined approach to the way they manage their team.

Discipline enables a focused approach with employees and the deliverables that are their required goals.

Team and individual discipline includes a number of rules and protocols by which every member of the team knows what is and isn’t acceptable. This is good for everyone, because each knows where they stand.

With the rules of the team being understood by all, this can be very freeing, actually enabling much more creative work, because the boundaries of acceptability are clear.

So, with all this in mind, what happens when someone on the team wants to behave in a manner which is normally beyond the agreed way of working? What does a manager do when what one of the team feels is quite acceptable as an exception to the rule?

In fact this can be the ace up a manager’s sleeve in how they build the team and it requires a secondary set of ‘unwritten’ rules that allow for exceptions. The key to this is that these unwritten rules are applied absolutely equally amongst the team.

Let’s say you are a retailer with a peak of business at Christmas. The written rule is that no-one has any vacation in the month of December. That’s a reasonable expectation for any employees who choose to work in that sector.

But what happens when a member of your team has a personal reason for asking for the rule to be overridden? What happens if their daughter wants to get married in the Caribbean on Christmas Day, with a few days beforehand to prepare for celebrations too? Is that permissible or not?

In these situations, smart managers allow an occasional exception to the rule in special, one-off circumstances, to show they care and understand what’s so important to their people. In fact it’s common sense, because any parent is going to attend whatever their employers says, so to lose a valued team member because they ask you to bend a rule is simply illogical.

Much better in such circumstances to allow it to happen, with strict controls and also with a strict management of any other people who choose to test this ‘rule’. After all, you could not manage the business if everyone chose to ask the same year.

That is, of course, quite unlikely, so where common sense prevails and you wave them of wishing them a great time, you will do much to create goodwill.

Of course, the rule within a rule needs to apply to everyone and needs to be seen as such.

But to deny your people reasonable, if exceptional occasions in their work environment is most likely a battle that will not see the organization as a winner, especially if those rules are not flexible enough to allow exceptions.

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

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February 26, 2009

Leadership Development through Staff Empowerment

You might be surprised how many manager feel concerned when they need to leave their business – you see they have fallen short in being able to empower their employees to cope without them.

And that’s a problem…

It must be very wearing for managers to feel that they just cannot absent themselves, when they are missing people in place who can do a great job in their absence.

They need the support of each of the employees in their teams – and it’s up to the manager to make this happen.

Filed under Developing Your People, Focus on Results by Martin

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December 12, 2008

Management Is OK – Then The Leader Comes Along!

Because a manager is interacting so intimately with all parties, he or she will instinctively have knowledge of what clicks, who should be made to work together with whom and how to deal with problems.

But while a manager by virtue of the nature of his work has to be an insider, working closely at the sharp-end of the business every day, the leader does not.

He can work from the sidelines and inspire change without even having a personal stake in what’s happening today.

Leadership is needed for future growth and development in any business. It is a strategic activity, requiring vision, creativity and market-wisdom.

Management is what gets work done; what brings today’s cash-flow and ensures the health of the business right now and in the foreseeable future.

It is the true force and inspiration behind any successful organization, without which, there would be no future.

Filed under Building the Future, Focus on Results, Management Basics by Martin

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December 10, 2008

Listening Skills Revisited – 8 – Don’t Forget ‘Virtual’

When we are talking about communication, it does not necessarily refer to face-to-face communication.

Memos, emails, phone calls, video calls, letters etc are all important in your behaviors.

Whenever you have contact from someone on your team, make sure you acknowledge it as soon as you can at least – even if you are going to take time to reply to it.

It’s just as important as the times you can have conversations – maybe even more so.

If you looking to develop a functional, productive team, it is important to make your employees feel that they are an indispensable part of it.

Putting your listening skills to optimum use when you are communicating with the people working under you can truly make the difference.

Filed under Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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December 5, 2008

Get Management Right – Then Focus On Leadership

So, since utilizing and distributing resources is what is demanded from the manager, he cannot afford to be overly authoritarian.

If he is, then he may push his workers into being less productive.

Instead he should be the friendly but firm guide who inspires dedication to a common end.

Any manager’s goal is to maximize resources and reap the highest results, while dealing efficiently with clients and their quirks (as well as employees).

So while leadership focuses on taking companies onto new directions and give them new visions and aims, good managers help inspire employees deliver results in the shorter term in a focused way.

This helps the company to consistently reap profits right now, maintaining stability and equilibrium, so providing a healthy environment for the longer term potential the leader seeks to unleash.

So a good manager will know how to handle stakeholders, clients and workers with equal ease, keeping things moving along nicely.

Filed under Building the Future, Management Basics by Martin

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December 3, 2008

Listening Skills Revisited – 7 – See the Value

Informal communication within the office is an excellent way to collect feedback about the way things are going – policies, ideas, plans, relationships even.

Not only can what you hear around the place have a great value in terms of ‘intelligence’, but if you start to get creative, you will seek out feedback from teams away from your own.

For example, you might be able to find out how the sales department feel about the impact your admin team have on their side of the business, and use that knowledge to make focused improvements yourself.

Filed under Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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November 28, 2008

Managers Focus On Today’s Performance

To manage well is to focus on ongoing activities.

Since the aim of management is to maximize profits using available resources, any good manager should be able to motivate and encourage his or her people.

They should have the ability to initiate the workers, any company’s main assets, into an inspired state of working, to get them pulling together in order to achieve a common goal.

It is only when managers are accomplishing results, through the co-operation of their workers that a company will be able to flourish. This is why a manager has to have the keen ability to gauge his workforce’s needs and act accordingly.

If his workers are capable and have adequate skill then the manager merely has to motivate and encourage them towards progress.

If, on the other hand, the workforce is not that accomplished, the manager’s task is to personally guide and instruct them in order for them to benefit.

Filed under Building the Future, Management Basics by Martin

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November 27, 2008

Listening Skills Revisited – 6 – All Ideas are Valued

If one of your employees gives you a suggestion in a meeting or otherwise, encourage them.

If you don’t like their idea don’t dismiss it off-handedly. Explore with them where there may be flaws.

Your personal experience should feed into the success of the team as a whole.

Always listen encouragingly to their ideas and make sure that you compliment them on their enthusiasm and positive participation.

Filed under Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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November 21, 2008

Leaders or Managers – What’s The Most Valuable?

Leadership is a quality, which is undeniably useful for the eventual benefit of the company.

Management is the crucial, integral activity that will ensure it survives today, by ensuring the company delivers it’s operational requirements, thereby ensuring the possibility of seeing a tomorrow at all.

Leadership can be described as ‘that quality which involves innovation, risk taking and exploring of new avenues’ for the company to secure a stable, unchallenged superior position in a competitive world.

From this it could be considered that in a constant and steady state, all an organization consistently needs is solid management skills to survive, without any need for leadership skills.

Leaders in any organization are the seeds sown for health and success in the future.

Filed under Building the Future, Management Basics by Martin

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November 20, 2008

Listening Skills Revisited – 5 – It’s a Motivator Too

Your great listening skills also helps to motivate your people perform to their best.

Realistically speaking if your employees are happy and feel important and fulfilled in their work, then tangible rewards like pay raises, bonuses etc. take a back seat.

Supporting the organization that shows they care (through your excellent listening skills!) becomes their top priority.

By involving them in the working of the company as much as possible, it provides them with a clear view of what lies ahead in terms of company plans, future aims and goals.

Filed under Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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