management training

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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The Purpose of Strategic Thinking – The Leader’s View

The basic purpose governing strategic thinking is to be able to construct an overarching and defining plan or strategy that would not only provide a focused and coherent framework for crucial policy decisions regarding direction of the business and resource utilization, but also a sufficient and clear guideline for the continued development and growth of the organization.

One of the most important purposes of strategic thinking, is out-thinking your competitors and keeping ahead of your rivals.

While engaged in any strategic thinking process, a business team usually has to try to consider as many consequences and eventualities that may arise from their own actions aimed at improvement or growth. By minimizing adverse outcomes that could destroy ambitious plans.

In this process, by bringing together innovation, strategic planning and operational management, leaders attempt to develop as foolproof a business strategy as possible with a greater likelihood of success.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future by Martin

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November 15, 2008

Communication Skills For Team Leaders – What’s The Benefit? Part 3

When working with a team, top-class communication and collaboration is essential. You need to manage your team well and build team-spirit where you can.

Where new ideas and plans are going to be implemented, let your team know about it in the most timely fashion – if possible, get them involved in the ‘how’ of the implementation.

Another thing you can do is to discuss changes fully with them, so they can voice their opinions and integrate their contributions in how they feel it will be best to work in future.

When you are keen to ensure any communication processes that you have in place are effective, it’s pretty important to adequately source relevant materials to deliver all that you need to.

There can be few managers who haven’t got circumstances wrong at some time in their career. Once it happens you don’t easily forget when a piece of vital equipment fails, or your laptop battery died at just the wrong moment. Sometimes it’s just as challenging when you can’t find a flipchart pad.

On an even more an informal basis, it can be a bit embarrassing when you haven’t got a bit of paper in your pocket to take a note or two down!

By making sure that you really understand that communication skills are your first, middle and last amazing tool in your kit when you are managing a team of people, however large or small, you will enjoy major benefits.

Get this right and you will have results to be totally proud of.

This is your moment, so make a real go of it!

Filed under Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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November 14, 2008

Top Communication Skills For Managers – What’s The Benefit?

A manager needs to have good communication skills. It is one of the major elements of communication. One of the most vital skills in any manager or supervisor’s portfolio of skills. But why? What are the benefits of being a good communicator?

Often a manager is asked to explain or make understood a new policy which is to be implemented or a particular process that is already in use be refined. It could be that new approaches are needed to make the difference in our challenging world.

Whilst using your capabilities to find out about what’s going on around you is important, the impact of under-performance cannot be overestimated. If something isn’t working right, asking questions to get the information you need is a tactic well worth developing. But, that’s not all. A manager worth their salt will be able to extract information in ways that others would find impossible. It’s a mix of asking the right questions linked to the capacity to hear what others say as well.

Whilst special communication situations are important, it is likely to be just a small part of the manager’s role, compared with the need to interact with their people on a regular day-to-day basis.

Good managers talk to their people all the time, getting to know them well and building great rapport as they go. Understanding how important this is, helps those managers who care for success to decide just how they are going to develop this skillset to the full.

Many managers fail to understand the effects their poor communication style can have on their people. You see miscommunication commonly comes from arrogance, linked to a lack of appreciating that misunderstandings are almost always the fault of the person imparting the information.

And, how frustrating and inefficient can it be to have gotten the message wrong! A good manager will always acknowledge that they have the accountability to get a clear message across to everyone and anyone that needs to get it right.

As issues arise, managers need to consider what they are being told carefully, whilst ensuring that they get all the detail before they act. Sometimes, assumptions can get a manager into hot water, so it’s vital that they find out what really is fact, before they decide on a course of action.

This is not just about the ability to impart information, more, it’s about the capacity to listen carefully and then frame ‘discovery’ questions appropriate to the contextual clues they have received.

Being able to appreciate information for what it is, requires a special capacity within any manager. Time, ‘busyness’ and all the other demands on time, means that a manager has to be pretty smart to make quick judgments based on limited information. In those cases it’s a good idea to make sure that actions are not taken in haste, but considered carefully when the time is available to make the nest decision possible.

Teamwork, with all the interlinked dynamics associated there, requires special attention. The challenge here, is that with several members involved at a time, if you are not careful any message gets misinterpreted as it is passed around. Having the sense to clarify as a group, with questions and feedback altogether, might well be a constructive and focused way to ensure that you get it right with your people, all of them, every time.

Remember, the power of a well engineered team is impressive – the potential for downsides equally so if you get it wrong!

It’s important from the outset that you have ensured there are adequate facilities for any occasions where good communication is important to you. This can be done well in advance for major events. Even when you are holding regular weekly or monthly meetings, by ensuring that you have the appropriate resources in place will not only mean that your message gets across, but also how well your people feel that they are being treated.

By making sure that you really understand that communication skills are your first , middle and last amazing tool in your kit when you are managing a team of people, however large or small, you will enjoy major benefits. Get this right and you will have results to be totally proud of. This is your moment, so make a real go of it!

Filed under Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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Manager or Leader – What’s The Difference?

Two absolutely necessary things needed for the survival of any organization are leadership and management.

While leadership is the ‘quality’, which determines how far a company will go and how successful it will be in the long run, management is the ‘quantity’ that deals with the daily workings and the implementation of current plans that will help in the immediate health of the organization.

Maybe! Truth is, both are pretty important.

Although we might try to distinguish between them and aim to get them into a neat little descriptive package, it can be quite a challenge.

Maybe the way to separate the two is that a leader deals with the longer term aspirations and opportunities, whilst a manager will be more focused in managing the resources, including people, to achieve shorter-term goals for the ongoing health of the organization.

Then again, managers need to be leaders sometime…

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

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November 13, 2008

Listening Skills Revisited – 4 – Recall is Good

If you are fully involved in the conversation, you will also tend to maintain a good memory of it, which will be handy for future reference.

If, for example, your employee discusses a problem with you to seek your advice, a follow up to the conversation would mean a lot to them.

Filed under Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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November 8, 2008

Communication Skills For Team Leaders – What’s The Benefit? Part 2

Misunderstandings often come from communication gaps, leading to more and more frustration! While trying to explain something new to the audience, it’s sometimes found that the manager is wrongly interpreted or seems to be speaking out of context.

During breaks, it’s worth checking with the audience whether they have followed and where necessary, amend a presentation the next time. It’s also worth exploring where they misunderstood and learning from this for the future.

As issues arise, managers need to consider what they are being told carefully, whilst ensuring that they get all the detail before they act. Sometimes, assumptions can get a manager into hot water, so it’s vital that they find out what really is fact, before they decide on a course of action.

This is not just about the ability to impart information, more, it’s about the capacity to listen carefully and then frame ‘discovery’ questions appropriate to the contextual clues they have received.

When deciding on a course of action, it is important to make sure that you have all the detail down first, check that you have heard what you have been told is correct and then, only then, go for a course of action.

You see, how well a manager receives information, is at least as critical to success as how they impart it – probably even more so.

Filed under Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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November 6, 2008

Listening Skills Revisited – 3 – Encourage Them!

Make them feel comfortable and ensure they know that they have your undivided attention.

Smile occasionally 🙂

Lean in. If you have a grip on the topic of conversation, ask questions, – showing that you are interested in the conversation – and them as individuals!

If you are not clear about something that is said feel free to ask for elaboration or explanation.

Filed under Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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November 5, 2008

Motivation – Cheap and Cheerful!

When you get right down to it, there are a few misunderstandings about how to get the best out of your people.

The ‘headline’ might be that the better you pay people, the more effective they will be. Maybe, the more amazing the benefits, the more likely they will be to ‘go the extra mile’.

Perhaps the possibilities for promotion would work to ensure that each one of your employees are pro-active’ and stun you with their activity.

None of this is true.

Research over a number of years with public service workers in the UK, found that those who merely felt unfairly treated were more likely to suffer serious physical and mental health problems.

The reality is that where your people feel that you and/or your organization just don’t care, they will never be as supportive of the business goals as they might be.

And all it needs is the simple things.

By saying thanks for a job well done, saying good morning at the start of work and, well, just doing a few things that show you care, you will truly have employees who will stick with you through thick and thin.

You know, it’s just about being a reasonable human being and behaving with your people as if they are like your friends.

It costs absolutely nothing, so that really should not be too much to ask for, now should it?

Filed under Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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November 3, 2008

SMART Goals are out DUMB Goals are in

If you’ve ever read any strategic or business planning literature, you’ve no doubt come across the acronym SMART for mapping out goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Those are all fine and dandy objectives, but I’m out to propose another side of the coin – DUMB goals. Hear me out for a second!

DUMB stands for Dreamy, Unrealistic, Motivating and Bold.

If you stop and think about traditional and realistic goals, they aren’t that inspiring or exciting. They encourage status quo and/or staying within confined areas to achieve marginally better results at best.

Most employees can see through status quo goals and aren’t going to go that extra mile to achieve things that are already within relative reach – greatness comes from inspiration; not reaching a plateau that the ordinary can achieve with typical or expected efforts.

That might be why a majority of employees so willingly sign off on the goals during a formal review process – they know they don’t have to do a whole lot more to get the raise that comes from a satisfactory review next time around. Let’s dig a little deeper to see how ‘DUMB’ we can get.

Dreamy goals repeatedly wake you up at night wondering if something is possible with an effort that is truly remarkable. They imply going for that rarified air no one dares to breathe. It’s finding that special ’cause’ that will unite people on a mission that makes them feel part of something special versus merely putting in time to collect a check.

It’s like your kid at five years old saying he’s going to be President one day and you encouraging her/him to be anything they put their mind to. What happened to encouraging that blank canvas of wide open thinking?

Unrealistic goals are the ones traditionalists warn against and believe aren’t obtainable by anyone. To most, a job is a job until there is a challenge of the unimaginable or someone telling you ‘it can’t be done.’

Unrealistic goals push people to really push hard to move beyond what’s expected to stand out in the crowd and achieve greatness. Isn’t it a lot more fun to do something someone says can’t be done?

Motivating goals are those that make someone wake up each morning ready to take on the day versus figuring out a way to muddle through it looking busy even though time is being wasted. They are those things that people want to come to work for instead of calling in sick because they just can’t stand spending all day in the office.

Most SMART goals encourage toiling through the day in an effort to fool everyone around into believing someone is working really hard. A motivated workforce is tough to stop because momentum builds daily.

Bold is charting a course competitors don’t dare take because the fear of failure or success is too daunting. There’s a very fine line between failure and success, and most companies and individuals will walk right up to the line and toe it without ever stepping over it.

What is the worst that could happen if you stepped across that imaginary line and really went for something? You’ll never know until you try, and most people simply aren’t bold enough to try – we’re too scared we might not be able to return to the comfort zone we currently live.

I encourage you to DUMB down your goals the next time you’re charting the course for yourself or your company. Who knows what you might achieve?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Roger Bauer is CEO of SMB Consulting, Inc. a nationally recognized small business consulting firm specializing in business planning, competitive intelligence, marketing, sales, search engine optimization (SEO), strategic planning, and technology guidance. To learn more about the firm, please visit smbconsultinginc.com

Filed under Developing Your People, Focus on Results by Martin

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