4 Key Questions Every Successful Manager Must Be Able To Answer

4 Key Questions Every Successful Manager Must Be Able To Answer

4 key questions every successful manager must be able to answer

Management effectiveness is ultimately about developing a strong team capable of delivering company objectives. There are two crucial components of a manager’s job – operational management and people management. In this article Tricia Cunningham outlines the people aspect of the role and what managers need to get right in order to be successful.

Tricia, what is management effectiveness in practice?
A great manager has two fey focuses. There is the technical or operational side of their role and there is the people side of their role. So for a great manager there are two components to the management role, with 4 elements within each component.

On the operational effectiveness side there are four key requirements:

Technical

1. Plan
2. Organise
3. Influence
4. Control

As Marcus Buckingham, prolific writer on best management practices points out, there are four key requirements on the people side that an effective manager needs to get right:

People

1. Select the right people for their team
2. Set and agree on expectations with the team members
3. Motivate the individual members
4. Develop people for long-term contribution to the organisation

Management effectiveness is about achieving results through optimum use of the resources available, the key resource being the people on the team. If you really want to be a great manager you need to pay attention to both the operational and the people aspects of the role. Our experience of working in the SME sector for nearly 20 years has highlighted the need for management to understand how to manage a team effectively. That’s the most challenging part of the role.

Our Management Effectiveness Programme doesn’t focus on the technical aspects of the role because that is very specific to each organisation, but the issues and challenges around managing people are common across all sectors and all industries. This is the area we zone in on and explore comprehensively with participants – building their confidence and competency in a range of management skills.

Here are 4 Key Questions for Managers in Managing People

1. Do you understand how to select the right talent for your team and for the organisation?

2. Do you know how to set expectations and measure results?
– do you regularly review expectations with feedback sessions with your employees?
– do you know how to measure performance effectively?
– how about annual performance appraisals with your team members?

3. How will you keep your team members motivated so that they want to keep coming in to work and continue to do the very best job they can?

4. Finally, when you have developed a great team, ask yourself how are you going to keep them in the organisation long-term? You need to keep them engaged and that requires further development. Have you a long-term development plan for your team?

 


Tricia Cunningham

 

 

 

 

Tricia Cunningham, senior partner at LEAP.
Click here for information about our management development programmes.

Contact us today to speak to a business advisor
Tel: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

Interview with Des Kirby

LEAP delighted to be working with Longford Town FC

Longford Town FC

As part of the FAI’s ongoing support for regional clubs, LEAP are delighted to be working with Longford Town FC in the development of their strategic plans.

To learn about LEAP’s leadership and management programmes visit Leadership Programmes.

Meet the LEAP Team

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What has company culture got to do with strategic planning?

What has company culture got to do with strategic planning

Company culture plays a more significant role in strategic planning than some people realise. Managing directors and team leaders need to ensure there is clarity regarding expected behaviours of employees. Most employees want to contribute to the long-term success of the business but how you get there is just as important as the end goal as Mike Gaffney explains.

Definition of strategy by Oxford: a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

The word strategy frightens some business people but strategy is simply a game plan. This plan is a road map to secure your future. Strategic planning and company culture go hand in hand. The plan must address what sort of culture you will have in the organisation for it to be successful. That should be a key part of the plan in order to build a better future.

What is company culture?

A culture is the collective way that the organisation works both internally and within the marketplace; it is how we behave. In developing your plan for the business, the strategy will be driven by the people in the organisation, in other words the success of your strategic plan depends on the kind of company culture you create.

A key question is ‘what drives our behaviours?’

The answer is our values. These are the attitudes and beliefs we have that influence our behaviours every day – honesty, integrity, authenticity, passion, commitment. Behaviour is also driven by our ambition to be successful and our need to feel significant and relevant in what we do. All of these things make up the culture of an organisation.

The strategic planning challenge

The strategic planning challenge then is how to tap into the key motivations of individuals within the organisation. For example, a company may have a clear set of compelling values like honesty, respect, support, innovation and a can-do attitude. This is their reference point; it’s what they hire and fire by. Teams within such organisations are not focused entirely on profit margins but they also want to know if they have a long-term future with the company. Do I respect the company values?

Do those values protect me and help me progress and feel respected within the organisation and within my team?

Operations ManagementA company culture that drives employee engagement

In relation to the company’s vision and mission, culture is what will drive engagement in the workforce. All the planning in the world will fail if the plan does not outline how you are going to engage the workforce and make them feel valued. So creating the right organisational culture is pivotal to the planning process. The plan will contains goals, objectives and tactics but without a culture of engaging the team the plan will fall flat.

Also bear in mind that strategic plans are fluid; it is a statement of intent by the organisation as to where they want to get to and how they are going to get there. As you progress further in that journey you gain greater visibility than you had at the start, so naturally it will need to be adjusted and fine-tuned. It should also be used as a mechanism to challenge the original premise on which the plan was based. Are we as a company moving in the right direction, or does the plan need to change? Perhaps it does but the core values of the organisation should remain regardless of any changes in strategy.

Honesty, respect, integrity, passion and a supportive environment – these things still matter.

Product lines and services may evolve, internal operations may also change but a positive company culture based on your value system should remain in place.

Mike Gaffney , MD

Mike Gaffney managing director at LEAP

 

 

 

 

 


Interview by Des Kirby. Learn about our leadership and management programmes

Contact us to speak to a business advisor
Tel: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

 

Anger Management in the Workplace

anger management

It is imperative for anybody in an organisation, whether at a leadership level or employee level, to manage their responses to tense situations. There are times when an individual will feel annoyed, frustrated and stressed. Each of us will express that differently. The challenge for us as adults is to recognise our triggers – things that make us angry, frustrated and stressed. Finding effective approaches to handling those triggers will depend on the individual and the context in which they find themselves.

Here are 3 simple steps you can take to better manage your anger in the workplace.

1 Pause and walk away
Pause for a moment before responding in any situation. Very often we respond immediately but once the words are out we can’t retrieve them and we regret the words we said. So taking a moment to pause before responding is a critical skill. It’s difficult to do in the heat of the moment when employees are engaged in a task that’s causing problems, but the more you practice this response the better you get at it.

Pausing can be as simple as suggesting to the team that you take a break for an hour and return to the issue again with clearer heads. This gives everyone a chance to calm down and gather their thoughts. Or pausing could simply mean excusing yourself to use the bathroom. This gives all of you a few minutes to step away from the situation and break the negative cycle that was happening.

2 Acknowledge that emotion is affecting the situation
When we get stressed we often find ourselves in a cycle where we are responding by getting caught up more and more in the issues and becoming more and more stressed about it. The more stressed and frustrated and angry we get, the more we talk from the heart rather than the head.

If an individual is talking logically to me, talking from the head but I’m frustrated and angry, I’m going to respond by speaking from the heart. This often leads to difficulties in communication as these two approaches don’t speak well to each other. A simple acknowledgement of the person’s frustration or anger or irritation and a request to discuss how to address that emotion can lead to a more productive discssuion.

3 Return to the issue with a clear logical approach
Once the individuals involved have managed to lower the emotional intensity they you can have a more logically, structured and thoughtful conversation. When the person is thinking logically they are more open to hearing constructive ways to address the issue. This means that the person is now focusing on results. We have moved beyond expressing frustration and anger.

Does the same logic apply to email communication?

Definitely. You should never use email to express anger or frustration or any emotion because it’s hard for the person receiving the email to understand all the emotion behind it. It can end up as a table tennis match with both sides responding emotionally and comments are very easily misinterpreted which can escalate the situation.

If there are issues that have the potential to be emotionally charged they need to be addressed face to face or at least over the phone but certainly not by email.

So if your natural response is to get angry at something in an email then as a rule of anger management, a manager needs to pause and acknowledge their own anger and ask themselves, ‘why am I angry about this?’ At least when you acknowledge that the situation has triggered something in you, and you recognise what it is, then you can ask yourself ‘what can I do now to progress and resolve this?’

You can try to put forward some constructive solutions. Sometimes you will be able to do this quickly, other times you will need to walk away and take some time to think about it.

What should a manager do when two employees just cannot resolve their issues with each other?

Well of course a decision has to be made with regard to their suitability within the team and in their particular roles. You cannot have an atmosphere where two people don’t get along and hold the whole team back. Or if it’s a case that the manager and a team member cannot resolve their differences, then the business owner, or some other third party, may have to step in and figure out how to resolve the issue.

You cannot afford to ignore a situation where two people in the same team clearly don’t get on. If the issue persists it may even involve some kind of disciplinary action being taken to resolve matters. So in volatile situations remember the anger management steps to take:

1. Pause and walk away from the immediate situation

2. Acknowledge that your heart is speaking not the head – emotional not logical

3. Give yourself sufficient time to calm down. Postpone meetings till another day if necessary. Return to the issue again with a logical mind and offer practical solutions.

There are other small practical steps that individuals can take to manage anger

• Take physical exercise to reduce stress. It’s harder to be angry when you feel physically good
• Meditation can help control stress levels and promote clearer thinking
• Yoga helps to keep you mentally and psychically fit which aids clear logical thinking
• Eat a healthy diet and reduce sugar and caffeine intake
• Get adequate sleep

All these actions can help the individual manage themselves and their anger more effectively.

Case Study

Operations ManagementWe had a situation between two individuals in a company where one was involved in operations and the other was in purchasing. They had reached the unfortunate point of no longer talking to each other. Now clearly you could not run an organisation with these two key individuals not working together effectively. Everyone was impacted by the tension and expressions of frustration.

So LEAP worked with the larger team and in the process also worked with the two individuals. We used a psychometric testing tool to help them both understand each other and appreciate their differing perspectives. The insight they gained from using this tool allowed them to recognise that not everyone is the same and people need to work differently. They recognised that the way the other person was operating wasn’t deliberately negative or unhelpful it was simply that they viewed issues from a different perspective and worked differently to their colleague.

That freed the two individuals up to understand themselves better, each other better and find a way to resolve their differences. They eventually figured it out and continued working together and did so quite effectively. They wouldn’t necessarily be best friends, they wouldn’t socialise together but they did prove they could work effectively together and that was a good outcome for them and the company.

So often we see companies resolving these types of scenarios by separating the two people involved and placing them in different departments. But that’s only because nobody has invested any time in trying to understand the issues that are at the heart of the matter. Transferring people isn’t always the right option and sometimes it’s not an option at all. Helping people understand how to respond with the head as opposed to the heart can often be a better solution.

Key Takeaways
Anger management is something that has to be practiced. With time and experience managers can learn to respond positively to all kinds of difficult situations. The more the individual practices it, the better they become at responding with their heads and not with their hearts. Pausing and walking away from stressful situations can give people the necessary time and space to calm down and think logically as opposed to emotionally. Return to the issue with a clear and logical mind. The same method applies to email communication. Give yourself time before responding and never use email to express anger.

Recommendation
Try reading First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham. Subtitled ‘what the world’s greatest managers do differently.’ It’s worth reading for advice on management practices and disciplines that lead to better overall employee and manager satisfaction.

Interview by Des Kirby


Tricia Cunningham, senior partner at LEAP. Learn about our management development programme

Tricia Cunningham

 

 

 

 

Contact us to talk to a business advisor
T: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

Professional Development is Key to Retaining Key Employees

professional development

Now that the economy has started to take a turn in the right direction, the skills that employees currently have may not be the skills that will allow them to help an organisation grow and maximize opportunities that may lie ahead. For many organisations the focus over the last number of years has been doing what’s needed to get ahead, one step at a time.

But now that things are improving and opportunities are opening up, organisations will need to start thinking differently and will need to support employees as they develop new and necessary skills.

Professional development – does your team have the right skills?

Organisations need to start thinking about the goals they wish to achieve over the next eighteen months and map out the skills that will be required to deliver on those goals. Then they must assess their employees at every level against those requirements and goals.

This will help the organisation to determine the best way to develop the new set of required skills. The approaches identified may include formal training, or may involve partnering employees together to teach each other various skills. It could involve giving employees the opportunity to work on new projects. There are multiple approaches that can be taken to develop skills.

How you manage is critical to long-term success

Over the last number of years managers have had to focus strongly on working in a cost-cutting environment, with few resources available to them. This has meant that the focus has been on technical deliverables. In other words, delivering the specific product or service to the customer and ‘just getting it done.’

But as well as keeping the customer happy, managers also need to understand that how they interact and manage a team is vitally important and people skills are critical to that. It’s no longer good enough just to focus on the technical aspects of the job.

Managers need to be supported by the organisation in developing the key skills to manage people effectively. Learning from their experience isn’t sufficient; they need to understand best practices and determine how they can be applied in the organisation so that you are developing a strong, competent team who can work effectively together; a team who respect the manager, who can learn from the manager and can work with the manager.

How to retain your key employees

If the economy continues to grow, with the unemployment rate dropping from 14{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} in 2012 to a current level of 7.0{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} (September 2016), we can see that it is once again turning into an employee market. This means that organisations who fail to invest in employees run the risk of losing key employees.

Employees working in an organisation, generally speaking, value opportunities to develop and enhance their skills. Investing in them can have considerable payback in terms of commitment, loyalty and a desire to do more, deliver more and to help the organisation to grow.

So owners and team leaders need to consider employee development as an investment. They need to agree with participants about the skills that will be developed and how the organisation expects the individual to demonstrate those skills at work. This way organisations are in a position to grow and to retain key individuals that assisted that growth.

Setting expectations of employees

Development does not always mean an automatic expectation of promotion. It can also mean simply enhancing the basic skills employees already have, allowing them to get better at their current jobs. It’s about broadening their knowledge and skills, and being in a position to embrace opportunities should they arise in the future. That is development and that can often be very satisfying for an employee, even if there is no immediate offer of promotion.

When you work in the SME sector you know there are fewer opportunities to climb up the ladder compared to the larger corporate sector. By the same token, large corporations also need to be careful and make it clear that professional development is not always about promotion. Six people may put themselves forward for promotion but only one will get the job. What happens to the other five candidates? How do you manage them to ensure they don’t become disheartened? You need to make it clear to them that they are highly valuable to the organisation and the investment in their development is a reflection of that.

LEAP professional development programmes

LEAP recognises the need for strong leadership, management and employees in organisations. From our experience working with companies, we have put together professional development programmes that focus on developing the core skills of these three groups. Additionally, we look at operational effectiveness to ensure that not only are people working effectively but they are focusing on the right things and doing them right.

Tricia Cunningham, senior partner at LEAP.

Tricia Cunningham

 

 

 

 

Interview by Des Kirby
Check out our professional development programmes.


 
Contact us today to speak to a business advisor
T: 091 755736
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Leadership Programmes

 

Drogheda United FC working with LEAP on new strategic plan

drogheda-fc-fiachra-kierans-martin-hodgson-jim-mcardle
LEAP’s John Raftery with Drogheda United FC chairman Fiachra Kierans. Also pictured L to R are Martin Hodgson and Jim McArdle.

 

LEAP were recently appointed by the FAI to support regional clubs in the development of their strategic plans.

LEAP are delighted to be working with Drogheda United FC to develop a strategic plan for the club.  Pictured above is LEAP’s senior partner and business advisor John Raftery  handing over a draft strategic plan to Fiachra Kierans, Chairman of Drogheda United FC. Also in the picture is Martin Hodgson and Jim McArdle of Drogheda United FC.

To learn about LEAP’s leadership and management programmes visit Leadership Programmes.

Contact LEAP to speak to a business advisor
Tel: 091 755736

E: info@leapleadership.ie

Why Your Business Needs Digital Marketing

why-your-business-needs-digital-marketing

Bill Gates once said that ‘the internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.’ You can see why when you consider that 85{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} of Irish households are connected to the internet according to CSO figures and more than a third of Irish broadband users spend over 20 hours a week online, with 60{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} using it for shopping.

The question for you the business owner is this; when consumers search for information online how well can you address their needs? This is a question digital marketing tries to answer but let’s be clear from the outset; digital marketing is not a quick-fix solution. It requires expertise, commitment, time and investment.

Here we list 6 reasons why your business needs effective digital marketing in today’s global village.

1. You need a digital marketing strategy and the resources to support it

This is crucial; without a clear strategy you can quickly end up getting lost in the global village. You need a set of well-defined goals and objectives to guide you and your staff along the road to success. A good rule of thumb is to start with your customer’s needs and their online behaviour. So talk to your current customers, understand their interests and how they generally use the internet. Are they highly active on social media or do they mainly use Google search to find what they want? Your strategy may focus on one or two digital channels like your website and Google Ads, or it may involve a mix of web design, SEO, content creation, social media, email marketing and ad campaigns.

Whatever you decide, be realistic with your strategy based on your available resources like time, experience, available staff & budget. You may find outsourcing your online marketing is a more practical option.

2. You need a great website that converts visitors into customers

Effective web design is crucial to your digital strategy. To get the most from your website it should be technically well developed, user-friendly, secure, beautifully designed, mobile-friendly and built with sales conversions in mind. Remember, if your website does not meet consumer expectations, then your competitor’s site will and they’ll get the sales. So getting your website right should be a top priority.

3. You need email marketing for higher returns

Email marketing is still ranked as the most effective way to generate sales. Growing a targeted email list takes time but is definitely worth the effort as the return on email campaigns far exceeds other digital channels including social media. Email often sees higher ROI than other channels – up to €38 for every euro spent, making it a powerful tool in your digital strategy.

A word of warning though; don’t attempt your first campaign without first consulting with experienced email marketers, otherwise you could end up with a worthless email list and zero return.

4. You need a clear social media strategy

This relates back to Mr Gates’ point about the town square and the global village. Social media marketing is not something a business has to do but it is another great way for businesses to promote their brand. Social channels like YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook offer businesses a platform to build a unique audience and engage directly with customers. Companies can post blogs, videos, photographs, conduct surveys for market research, get customer feedback on products, share user-generated content and keep customers updated with company events, special offers, competitions and new services. Done right, it’s not only a great way to educate and engage with your audience but can also drive vital quality traffic to your website. Add to that the social media pay-per-click advertising facilities and you have a powerful marketing mix to promote your business.

5. You need Pay Per Pay (PPC) ads to drive traffic to your website

With PPC ads the village restaurant or clothes shop can target customers as effectively as the high street big brands. Paid platforms like Google ads and social media ads allow users to target consumers by region, age, gender and other demographics. However, like the other elements of digital marketing it requires a coherent strategy with clear goals, effective copy and good design. Digital ad campaigns can be costly if executed incorrectly so consultation with experts in Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is essential.

By the same token, if done right they can drive top quality traffic to your website; in other words, people much more likely to convert into sales.

6. You need analytics to gauge how you are doing online

Whatever you do online, you want to know if it’s working or not right? One of the most impressive aspects of digital marketing is the ability to measure results. Ad platforms like Google ads and social media ads come with built in analytics facilities that give businesses full control over ad spend. This is great for those of you on tight budgets who need to make every penny count. You can also monitor how your ads are performing in real time and calculate the ROI of each campaign you run.

In addition, there are free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to measure and analyse the traffic to your web pages helping you to determine which pages perform well and which ones don’t. This can help you improve your content but these tools do far more than that. They can also help you identify where your website traffic is coming from – through search engines, social channels or ads. This helps you decide where to invest more of your time and money.

Is your digital team making use of these tools? If not, they should.

Key takeaways
If you take away just one key point from this article then make it this; effective digital marketing requires expertise, time and investment. A clear strategy outlining goals and objectives is an absolute must. Great web design, SEO, content creation, PPC ads, email marketing and social media can all play a role in your strategy. Outsourcing these activities may be a more practical option for some businesses. Digital marketing activities are measurable, providing business owners with valuable insights into your online performance. This helps you make better decisions regarding strategy and ongoing investment.

What to do next
Before embarking on a digital marketing strategy for your business why not talk to Digitaledge? They will work with you to develop strategies proven to increase brand awareness and sales. Telephone 091 704830 or email info@digitaledge.ie

Article by Des Kirby


LEAP are leadership and management development experts. Click here for information on our Leadership Programmes.

Contact LEAP to talk to a business advisor
Tel: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie