team building

February 28, 2011

Personal PR – How To Fly Your Own Flag

On many occasions of any career, there are times where it’s vital to represent yourself fully. To make the best publicity you can for ‘yours sincerely’. And there are easy tactics you can use…

Whether you are applying for a promotion in your existing organization; looking for a new job altogether; or simply experiencing a performance review, there are steps you can take that will enhance your outcome.

Most, if not all individuals, find it hard to tweak their achievements to make the best of them. Whether this comes from naivety, modesty or simply a misjudgment of what they can pluck from their experiences, it’s hard to say.

The truth is that long hours wringing hands and fretting need not be suffered. Because in the main, all you need when being assessed is already within you. All you need to create a really effective candidate – or A+ result in your performance.

There are six key steps to making the most of your assets:-

1. Start Early

Be aware. When you are in the thick of experiences and learning, always, but always be prepared to make a note – however small – of something that you did. You don’t have to write a whole portfolio of it, that can come later (just kidding!). Just notice when things happen.

2. Link to Role

By being aware of what you might need to take careful note of before you start looking for it. Here you’re simply looking for the categories upon which you will ultimately be tested and then you can start to create a list of your personal activities (the ‘What I did’ of your evidence).

3. Keeping Up

As you create this list of your activities, you categorize them as you go and as the evidence piles up, create a note also of the gaps too. Then you can pro-actively ‘create’ the activities you need to make your offer almost irresistible. You will become rounded and thorough and then have the luxury of deciding not just that you have enough, but you have a choice of evidence you can talk about when you are being assessed.

4. ‘I Can’t Find Enough’

It’s vital to understand that the evidence you create does not need to move mountains. A clear action you personally took, where you can demonstrate just four simple elements – What you did; Why you did it; What the outcome was and What you learned is perfect – and keep it short and succinct. It gives them clear facts and a space to ask you more too – A perfect candidate!

5. Last Minute?

Left it too late? No problem! All you need is a kindly colleague to ask you the questions and push you for answers. It’s amazing at what we leave out or underestimate in ourselves. With focus, it’s possible to create quite comprehensive evidence if you are coached to create it in a couple of hours with a ‘coach’ friend drawing from you the actual – even where you think there are few.

6. Blagging!

Actual lying can never be condoned – least of all because you’ll get found out and if you were successful and got something without really deserving it, likely as not it wouldn’t suit you anyway. You can – and must – embellish, by really stretching out all you do in a category and make it really sing for you. Every scrap of paper evidence; every single impressive fact and figure pile up to become much more interesting to assessors.

7. And Finally

Always but always focus on what you did. Yes, you personally. Using ‘we’ and’ they’ won’t cut it. Be brave and strong and shout about you out loud. Use the ‘I’ word and really show what you are made of.

We all do pretty good work. We all deserve that you be recognized and in the main, we don’t shout about ourselves enough. And when you don’t, who will?

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

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December 21, 2010

10 Things for Managers To Do With a Spare Hour

There are those times when you’ve got your management act together when you reach those ‘One Minute Manager’ (Ken Blanchard) moments.

In the first book of the series (there are lots of great follow-ups), our star manager ensures that he’s able to spend a fair bit of time gazing out of the window because all the plates are spinning perfectly, with the minimal of intervention.

So, when you’re in that place with your management performance, what to do?

Here are ten ideas that you might want to consider when you are able to devote a spare hour to any activity you choose. The list is, of course, not exhaustive and you will have some favorites of your own.

That said, if you never have time to spare, taking a look at some of these will help you make that time, because the outcomes they will tend to produce will be constructive in magnifying the available time you have.

So, what’s not to like about these?

1. Pick an item to delegate – finding something that you permanently do NOT need to do yourself is a good first step. Second is to find someone who genuinely will benefit from doing that task. Thirdly, take the time to explain why you are delegating to them and the outcome you are looking for (don’t necessarily tell them how!).

2. Say ‘thank yous’ – just get out there and catch your people doing something right and thank them for it. This one is really simple and extremely productive.

3. Take an alternative view – ask yourself what would happen to a situation if you took exactly the opposite course of action than you have a current tendency towards. Just wonder about it a little.

4. Go and listen – get into easy conversations with your people and spend much more (90%) of the time in the conversation listening and work at just 10% of hearing your own voice.

5. Ask for help – go seek someone else’s help with a problem you are challenged with.

6. Ask for feedback – simple as it says – go off and ask someone on your team how you did with something recently. Listen to what they say, discipline yourself to NOT make excuses, if it isn’t positive. Just listen, absorb and thank then for their honesty. Feedback is a gift.

7. Be nosy – go poke around where your people work – not with personal stuff, but find out what they’re working on and ask questions that will help them tell you more about it (and then listen a lot – of course!).

8. Take a walk – yep, it’s time to ‘leave the building’. Spend a little time (you have an hour I’m giving you, right?) and go for a walk. No, there’s no catch!

9. Ask a customer – work out a way to interact with a customer or client informally. It might be a chat on the shopfloor. It might need a phone call to a random client. Whatever, just go for it and – you got it – listen!

10. Ring yourself – as a final challenge to your customer/client service, take a chance and ring into your own business, ask for yourself and test the experience. You will find it a revealing and, hopefully, a rewarding experience, even when you find out that your line is engaged!

How much fun is that? Instead of filling that hour with other ‘stuff’, you qualify all of these activities for that very productive ‘Quadrant 2’ as defined by Stephen Covey in ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. Important and not Urgent.

All the more valuable and value-creating because of that.

Filed under Blog, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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December 15, 2010

Go For Your Goals!

For many managers, career development is about putting the hours in, developing performance and skills and then moving up the ladder when the opportunity comes along.

The next rung to climb may, depending on the organization (and how organized they are) be structured to bring the best out of the potential that manager seems to have, dictated by the outcomes of assessments, performance reviews and consequently ‘noticed’ possibilities espied by line managers, project team leaders and others – often in random ways.

The next opportunity comes along on a wing and a prayer and suddenly you’re in the thick of a new challenge, trying to make the best of what you inherit. That can be an established team running well; a poor team who are struggling (‘Where did our last boss go, anyway?’) or a new project where the sheet of paper is blank.

The temptation to get in the thick of what you find is very attractive.

Heads down and see how things show up is an easy attitude to have. Being really busy from the off, shows the team your style of hard work, focus on the short terms and, above all, role-model the level of effort you expect from them real soon.

Smart managers are a lot cleverer than this. They DO invest their early days creating excellent relationships with their people. They show interest in them, listen a lot to show that they care and show they want to learn and understand about them.

And from a very early stage, they use the language of ‘goals’ and ‘expectations’ so that this becomes embodied in the culture of how the team will operate.

Some caution in the goals created will be necessary, of course, to ensure the direction taken is fully aligned with the outputs expected too. That said, there’s nothing wrong with creating goals together from early on in the relationships – and then together tweaking them as necessary.

The alternative of blindly drifting along, is a recipe for only one outcome, a vague set of results achieved with people who are puzzled with what they are supposed to be doing and disillusioned all the more because of this.

Better to have clearly focused goals to start and then refine together, than have ill-defined (if any) goals and no real direction.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Focus on Results, Management Basics, Management Development Tips by Martin

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November 17, 2010

My Team Is Famous For…

Getting great people to be in the team is one of the most rewarding tactics to help managers deliver the results demanded of them.

Yet these ‘great people’ as employees can be so hard to find.

Some managers have found the key to unlock creating a successful team, by ensuring that they get well known for the environment in which they and their people work.

A compelling experience for those employees who are lucky enough to be in there. Indeed, an experience so rewarding that there is a queue to join.

Imagine that your team ‘brand’ is such that you have people clamouring to be a member. A reputation to ensure that you need not seek great employees any more – they come to find you.

In times where employee costs are most often the biggest expenditure any organisation has to endure, throwing money at recruitment is not only expensive, but it’s usually a waste of time.

Creating a renowned workplace experience that others want to become a part of, means that as long as the pay you offer isn’t stupidly small, you can get away with paying a good average rate for the job, so long as…

…what they find when they get there is good.

Here’s a secret. there are not that many components of good and what’s even more interesting, as long as you pay at an acceptable level, pay isn’t in that set of keys.

By providing an environment that your people like and enjoy, not only will the word get round and you find people come to you to join your team, you lose less of the one’s you’ve already got.

Now, it’s not about providing a cushy little number where your people can snooze their afternoon’s away. that’s not part of it at all – here are the keys…

1. A challenging job that:- stimulates and encourages employees to take risks and grow, safe in the knowledge that they will be supported and not chastised when things don’t quite go to plan.

2. Leadership that:- delivers it’s promises; values the individual; listens much more than speaks (whilst communicating effectively); is trusted and trust others; oils the wheels to make delivery of high performance easy for the team members; can be hands on; pays attention to what’s going on.

3. Have fun – simple as that!

With these in place, your team will definitely be famous for…the team that it really is worth being in.

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

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November 13, 2010

Help – Who’s In Charge?

The best managers do what they are supposed to do. They lead and manage their people to deliver the outcomes that their role requires.

Be this in a business that delivers products and services; an organization that is there to serve the public or maybe a not-for-profit body who do their best for those who need help.

A manager’s role is to get the best from their people.

This means that they focus on that key role and ensure that they have a team around them whose purpose is to deliver the systems, processes and standards that are vital for the team to be effective and efficient.

And sometimes that doesn’t work so well.

Take the case of a junior team member who wants to take some time off.

A hard worker, always ready to go the extra mile and to do that little more, because that’s their way of being. They always find the time to get there a bit early or to stay on when the business needs it.

They need a couple of hours off to help a sick relative to go to a medical appointment and they are even prepared to swap their shifts around to cover their time.

They trip off to HR to ask for the time, because this is the agreed team process for getting a bit of flexibility into employees worked time, to be told that ‘it’s not allowed’, by the HR assistant (who is, by the way, only acting on instructions they received).

They go away with their tail between their legs cursing how good, flexible and committed they themselves are to the team, whilst the organization does not give back to them in their time of need.

Where manager’s delegate the delivery of activities that the team needs to have in place, there’s always the risk that ‘the rule’ that’s in place is going to lose sight of a bigger picture issue, where that’s the rule that is implemented inflexibly.

The bigger picture being the (often small) acts of goodwill that engender motivation and commitment from the workforce when they recognize the efforts that their people make inwards.

Whilst there needs to be a system to prevent chaos, every manager needs to be sufficiently in touch to be receptive to the open and honest feedback that’s vital to understand whether the processes are simply serving themselves – or the team is being served by that valuable process that’s so useful.

Is the dog wagging the tail – or the tail wagging the dog?

Good managers delegate effectively.

Great managers sound out their people, by creating interactive relationships that go both ways, to ensure that the whole delivery of delegated activities serves to team as a whole – and not just get the boxes ticked.

Whilst compliance is important – it’s not the most human of ways to be – that needs a manager to use the time they have freed up by delegating effectively, by listening to what’s happening at grass roots – and responding to their needs within a process that works for the team, and not otherwise just because it’s always interpreted in a straight line.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me 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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September 19, 2010

What Do You Believe?

As many of us find out during the course of our management career, we can’t do it all.

Yet there are times when we find the workload that we have is such that there is no-one else but ourselves who can do those parts of the work that are left to do.

As managers, we know that the buck stops with us and as such we plough on with the work we are not able to give to others.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed. It’s easy to do more, take longer and spend more of our lives at work, rather than getting a fair balance between work and everything else.

Yet we feel unable to give more away, because we reckon that we don’t have people who can do more. We don’t have people who have the capabilities to deliver.

And you would be wrong.

It’s hard to accept and evidence will show that the more you support and encourage your people to take on new challenges and grow, not only will you develop them, you will motivate them and they will enjoy their work more.

What’s stopping them?

The tricky answer for you to accept is that more than likely, you are.

Managers know best. Managers are the experts. Managers are the ‘tough at the top’ people who can’t show they can’t – in anything.

Sometimes, we need to get down off the high horse and accept the following:

1. We don’t know everything.
2. We aren’t the best at everything.
3. There are others who know better
4. Our people have talents that we don’t yet appreciate.

Exploring just how much each of your people are able to contribute, often above and way beyond what you might have expected, is a leap of faith; a critical point in your management career.

So test it out.

Find out just what your people have within them, when you ask, support and challenge them.

Suspending what you believe right now and stepping aside of it might well be the evolutionary step that takes your management to the next level.

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

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September 16, 2010

How to Manage 14% Better

Many organisations now use surveys to see how they are doing. Some are focused at customers and clients, whilst others look at how the employees think their workplace is.

The majority of employee surveys fell out of a brilliant piece of work by two researchers at Gallup – Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham – and led to their iconic book ‘First Break All the Rules’.

They found that how employees responded to just 12 statements about the work experience would dictate the profitability of any team, department or organisation. They called these Q12.

Using Q12 required a licence from Gallup (and hence why they aren’t shown here, though you can find them if you Google them), so many organisations pinched the concept and just wrote the questions a bit differently.

In fact, over time they have added significantly to the 12 original statements, with many employees being asked to respond to up to 50 or more. Which rather defeats the object! Still, many HR and leadership teams couldn’t help themselves when given the opportunity to confuse and irritate their people!

A couple of the questions related to the employees experience of their manager. These related to interactions the manager has with the people in the team and how recently too, so I can share a story.

Jim (name changed) had faced a dire problem. On his promotion, he had inherited an operation with problems all over the place, which he’d had to fix. In the first year, sorting out core issues had been a focus expected of him by his own superiors.

When the employee survey was in, he didn’t do so well in the measures of him (though some results might have related to the previous guy too). In year two, he made a very conscious effort to be more visible to his people; to speak with them more often and to, well, be a bit happier too!

The year two results showed him still below the average for managers like him, but they had improved by over 14% on the previous year.

The moral of the story? If you want to engage better with your people (= be more effective with them), get out there and spend time with them – all of them.

You know it makes sense.

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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