October 10, 2010

Keeping Sane – Influencing What You can

Life is busy. We have many things on our plate – too many most of us would say. And at times it can seem overwhelming.

So often there are issues we face that challenge us, often many times a day – and frequently shift our perspective, making what are relatively trivial issues magnified, such that they can easily consume us.

Much of what happens in our lives can be adjusted by the choices we make. So often a choice we make is a choice that we might make almost unconsciously, especially where we decline to make a difficult one, because the consequences of making it might be tough.

Then there are the times we spend considering and wringing our hands about circumstances over which we have no choices at all, because there are no actions we could take that are within our sphere of influence.

So we waste much of our time thinking about things that are completely outside what we can change, whatever we do.

We spend time there because it’s less controversial to be there, rather in the thick of issues where we can make real differences to our lives, because it’s easier to whine about external, uninfluenceable issues, than it is to face into areas that we could challenge.

But doing that is hard. So we bottle it and spend time blaming the rest of the world.

Sometimes, the people we associate with in our lives – and particularly where we manage others, the employees we have in our teams – lay on us their problems and issues they have in their lives that they cannot control, making their lives so seemingly awful.

The tactic here is to ensure that we encourage them simply to focus on those issues where a difference can be made and spend as little time as possible in those places where we can’t. And we do the same with our issues too.

Then we create more space to be much more productive and effective and take control, rather than waste our available time in that hole where we can – if we choose – wallow about what the world is doing to us.

As managers, we can model our ability to focus only on areas we can influence to our people too, encouraging them to be much more relevant with their thinking and then actions.

Above all, remembering that it’s a choice.

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

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December 7, 2008

Empowerment Improves Productivity – A Lot!

Where there are a bunch of employees who are not able to contribute fully because a manager hasn’t been able to ‘let go’ enough, they almost wilfully step back when they could get more involved.

They shy away from making decisions they aren’t regularly called to make.

If a manager makes all the top decisions and involves his people as a minimum, they will do as they’re told, collect their regular salary slip and do only what’s asked of them.

Filed under Building the Future, Managing Me by Martin

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November 24, 2008

Big Picture Management

There is no shortage of articles in the popular press about how to survive in the new era of a damaged financial world.

Jobs seem to be disintegrating by every newscast and matters are made much worse, I believe, by a scurrilous press having political reasons for making things seem much worse than they are.

The recession we are heading for, has as much to do with perception caused by a malicious press out there as anything else.

That said, what are you going to do to make the best out of a sorry state of affairs?

Practically, and having been through a number of recessions and crises over my career, it pays to remain flexible and prepared for when the downturn appears if and when it does.

Not every situation can be protected, but as managers we can plan to be as lean as possible with the permanency of employees, using short-term contracts where possible and thus protecting the key people who have been most loyal and especially the most productive.

Trying to second guess what is likely to come, is difficult in large organizations, as middle managers don’t always have the inside knowledge to know or influence what is going on.

It’s a time to focus on doing core activities really well, delighting the customers we have and, above all, not getting too despondent or down.

Keeping the spirits up and concentrating on delivering the best is likely to be the best we can do.

Oh, and if you live in the UK, don’t watch any more episodes of ‘Survivors’ or that could really get you down!

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Focus on Results, Managing Me by Martin

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