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

In 3 signs you have an effective team, Tricia Cunningham focuses on results, communication and conflict resolution. Here she outlines why these requirements are so important for managers, not just for the immediate impact on the bottom line but also for the long-term stability and profitability of the business.

1 The Team Achieve Positive Results

The most obvious sign of effective management, and the one most people are eager to see, is results. However, it’s not just the positive results themselves that needs to be achieved but the process needs to be positive. Results need to be achieved in a way that can be maintained long term. If the process of achieving the positive results is too stressful and intense employees will burn out or leave – not a desired outcome.

2 Team Members Communicate Effectively

The second sign of effective management is clear communication between each team member within the group and with management. Core to this communication is clarity of role and responsibilities. People need to know what others are doing and where there needs to be a handover. Effective communication allows team members to understand what is happening within the team, what is likely to happen next and where support is needed. The manager drives this activity assisting the team in finding the optimum communication approaches and ensuring they are adhered to.

3 The Team Resolve Issues Without Resorting to Blame

Thirdly, when an issue arises, effective teams are able to resolve it without it becoming personal or resorting to blaming each other and falling out over it. Managers guide team members to analyse and solve problems systematically rather than by intuition or natural instinct. The focus becomes the issue and not the person. Language is monitored and labels are avoided.

No playing the blame game or finger pointing.

What if the team gets along well but their results are poor?
Every area of the business must have clearly identified targets they are expected to achieve and these targets need to be clearly communicated to all team members, tracked regularly and assessed for corrective action. If targets are not achieved, then something has to change. Managers may need to review targets to see how realistic they were in the first place; maybe they were never achievable based on the resources available.

However, if the targets have been properly assessed and found to be both valid and necessary but the team can’t reach them, then the team has to be held accountable. There needs to be a rigorous review of what prevented the team from succeeding. The manager needs to have that tough conversation with each team member who didn’t perform and with the collective team. Together they need to determine the corrective course of action and need to commit to sticking to that course of action. Once agreed, the manager needs to be rigorous in monitoring progress and address issues promptly.

By the same token, if the results are good in terms of the bottom line but morale within the team is poor, the manager must also address this issue. Fortunately, most team leaders and business owners understand that to sustain the business, you need a motivated workforce.

Low morale will eventually lead to poor results. Productivity will drop if morale is poor.

The other advantage of focusing on developing a strong, positive work culture is that it attracts stronger talent. A positive work environment is more likely to achieve positive results and attract positive, strong performers to the organisation. That’s a win for everyone.

 

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

We work mainly with business owners and managers in the SME sector and what we find in general is that they have a clear idea of what they want to achieve with their business, but what they don’t have are good methodologies in terms of implementing their vision for the business. One of the programmes we deliver is the futureSME and the management team programme. These programmes try to help business owners and senior management teams to deliver true leadership in the organisation. Any discussion about leadership effectiveness can be quite difficult to pin down. It’s about behaviour which is very hard to measure and values that can be difficult to articulate. At LEAP we have our own template that we go through with business owners. Here are 4 ways to increase leadership effectiveness.

1. Clarify the vision

The first thing we look at is the vision. We clarify what the leader’s vision for the company is by asking the question, ‘where do the leaders see the company going in the next two to three years?’ It’s about articulating that vision and finding a way to communicate that vision to the rest of the organisation.

2. Decide the purpose of the organisation

Once the vision has been established and clarified, we look at the core purpose of the organisation; what does the organisation represent and what do they want to achieve? I use the example of Ryanair distilling their message or purpose down to just two words – no frills. We try to help organisations to simplify their message and what it is they represent, so people in the organisation are clear about what behaviours and attitudes and standards are being set. That’s not just for the benefit of the staff but also to establish that sense of purpose for customers and suppliers as well.

3. Establish goals

Once we establish that purpose we look at the three or four primary goals that the organisation wants to achieve. Then we find a mechanism to articulate those goals particularly through visual management systems. One of the visual tools we use are Gantt Charts featuring various lines of action, where we assign work to people, in other words who is going to do what and when. It’s essentially a visual monitoring system , like a traffic light system to show what’s working and what isn’t. Green means the action is on target, orange means the action has been delayed or is still in progress and red is for tasks that have missed their completion date.

4. Measure performance

Another thing we try to establish is what the correct key performance indicators (KPI) are in the business. KPIs show the activities of team members and the level of progress in different areas within the business. One of the things I find working with companies is that they either have no KPIs at all, or they are measuring some KPIs but they are the wrong ones. The KPIs they are measuring are driving the wrong behaviours and activities within the organisation. That can greatly hinder a company’s performance and needs to be corrected as a matter of urgency.

So it’s very important that everything is aligned from the leader’s vision to the purpose of the company through to the goals, lines of action and KPIs. You can talk about leadership styles and the different types of leaders, but if you follow this clear methodology you can’t go far wrong.

 

leadership, leadership ireland, executive coach John Raftery is Senior Partner and Executive Coach at LEAP

 

Executive coaching programmes can benefit business leaders of all kinds whether you run a small, medium or large company. An executive coach can offer a business owner or senior manager an objective view of their performance as team leaders as well as offering fresh perspectives on their vision for the business and where it is going. Executive coaches don’t tell business leaders how to run their companies but they do give them open and honest feedback that they can use to their advantage to improve both their individual performance and the overall performance of the business. Executive coach John Raftery outlines 3 reasons why you need executive coaching and the role it plays in effective leadership development that benefits the whole organisation.

1. Executive coach as a sounding board

The first reason it works is because to a large extent business leaders don’t get an opportunity to talk in a confidential and safe environment. The key thing is that they can use the executive coach as a sounding board. Just trying to articulate their own ideas can be a challenge for business leaders. To a large extent business leaders live inside their own heads. Then they try to communicate with their staff and it can be difficult for staff to interpret what’s in the leader’s head. Communicating ideas to staff can be challenging. They may be cautious about articulating certain issues or concerns that they might have. So the first thing executive coaching does is it gives people the ability to try and articulate what is going on inside their own heads.

2. Provide feedback

The second thing an executive coach does is provide feedback, and ask challenging questions of the leader as well. It’s important that the executive coach has experience, has some knowledge or background in business so they have credibility with the leader in terms of giving feedback and acting as a sounding board.

3. Inspire action

The third thing an executive coach can do is inspire people to take action or prevent procrastination. A lot of leaders have particular issues that they know they need to address. But as long as it stays in their head they will never get around to actually dealing with it. But an executive coach will listen to you and challenge you and encourage you to take action. To start implementing a plan of action and set deadlines to deal with issues, and be confident that once you deal with those issues you can give further feedback to the coach. You then use that feedback to see how things have gone and decide where to go next.

It’s important to point out that executive coaching is non-directional. It’s a process that allows the business leader to make up their minds and come to their own conclusions. You’re suggesting ways forward, you’re asking the leader ‘what if’ or what are the alternatives. Is there another way of looking at this or how do they feel about approaching a problem in another way? What do they think the outcome would be if they tried an alternative solution? You are not saying to the leader ‘this is what you should do.’ You can offer advice and guide people in a certain direction but ultimately the business decision rests with them, they must come to their own conclusions. So really executive coaching is about providing the space for business leaders to explore options they may not have otherwise considered and then letting them come to their own conclusions. That way they take ownership of their decisions rather than passing responsibility to someone else. They own the decision and if they own it they are far more likely to follow through and implement it.

John Raftery is Executive Coach at LEAP

John Raftery

 

 

 

 

 

 

The vast majority of people in management, bar military people that sign up to it, land in management roles because of their expertise in the area they work in. There is no evidence that they are predisposed to becoming an effective manager. For example, a finance person may become a financial director because they have a background in finance, they have their accountancy qualification, they’re good with numbers but there’s no evidence that they can manage a team of people.

So why do they get the promotions?
It’s based on their technical competence and they are good hard workers. They understand their brief so they seem like a safe pair of hands. Most people are not hired for management roles; most people acquire management responsibilities the more they prove themselves in their particular area of expertise. Because they are good foot soldiers, they are then given management responsibilities on the back of that. There is often little or no evaluation done by the company or the individual regarding their suitability to manage. They are getting managerial responsibility because of their ability to manage their own area of expertise.

What is meant by management capability?
It means having the skill set, the confidence and the awareness to be able to manage yourself, and manage the team you work with to ensure the company achieves the right outcomes. For example, the good salesperson who ends up becoming a sales manager. They are naturally good at hunting down potential customers and opportunities, and going down every avenue to make that sale. But when they become managers their natural hunting abilities are not required. They are now required to help people on the team who may have less experience and less ability than themselves. They must support them and coach them, but they are naturally more inclined to think in terms of sales and ‘going in for the kill.’ That hunting mind-set is poorly suited to the mind-set of supporting, mentoring and coaching teams who are not at the same level as you are.

So they are out of sync with the capability level of the team, but the company who chose them are basing their decision on the last five years of sales which were good so we’re making you sales manager. There is no thought given to the question of what skill set is needed to effectively manage a team. The person may have the mind-set of a sales ‘warrior’ but is that the correct mind-set for helping individual team members to become effective in their roles, and supporting them throughout their development? People can flounder and get very frustrated, and the company can get very frustrated with their lack of performance but that’s because they are a square peg in a round hole. People must take responsibility. The buck stops with the person who appoints people to management roles without proper evaluation of their management capabilities.

What should happen before someone is appointed to a management position?
The first thing is to clearly define the objectives of the role. Then decide how you are going to measure if someone is doing a good job or not. Identify what behaviours come naturally to them, then outline the key behaviours that you need to see someone demonstrate in the role. Are they good at dealing with people on a one-to-one basis? Are they good at confronting them when they are performing poorly, or their behaviour becomes unacceptable?

So it’s about people management skills and the behaviour of managers in keeping with the values that are critical to the organisation. Has the potential candidate demonstrated the wherewithal to support those values through their behaviour? Have they got the flexibility, the adaptability and the decision-making capability to align with company values and fit the managerial role? Their values and behaviours as managers will in turn effect the organisation as a whole.

The new manager needs to develop a new mind set

What happens when business owners or senior managers choose the wrong person for a managerial role?
Well it’s very stressful for all concerned. It’s stressful for the individual who has been dumped into a management position. They are trying to prove themselves to the company and they sometimes behave in a reactionary way towards team members who are not performing well. They don’t respond in a healthy way; they don’t give people the space or time or proper support they need to improve. As manager you need to find ways to effectively engage your team members, and not just keep banging on the table because you feel under pressure to prove yourself. Becoming a manager is often an ‘accident’ imposed on an individual who is ill prepared for the role, selected by senior staff who have not gone through a proper evaluation process. So it ends up becoming a very stressful situation all round.

But if someone is already in the role and they are clearly not a good fit, what should happen then?
Well usually it’s a case of the manager not fitting well as opposed to being the wrong fit entirely. The person has an understanding of what needs to be delivered in terms of the business; the challenge is how to get the team to do it as opposed to doing it themselves. Nobody told me I was going to be a manager but you are a manager now, and you have to step up to the plate. First you must increase your self-awareness and how you communicate with the people around you. In the past you focused on being right, but now as manager you have to focus on getting the right outcome for the company. You can no longer be happy to be right all the time; you must now focus on getting a team of people to achieve consistently good results. The emphasis is now on the team’s performance not on you as an individual.

So the new manager needs to develop a new mind-set.
Absolutely, and of course you can acquire new skills and knowledge. You can work on communication skills or time management or conflict management, but it’s crucial to adapt the new mind-set first. You have to be clear that you are no longer here to show how good you are at sales but to lead a team. You have to think, I am here to get the most from my team and get the best outcome for the company.

The more effectively you can change your mind-set and adapt to a new way of doing things in your work environment, the better chance you have at being successful as a manager. And it’s ok to make mistakes and get some things wrong if it’s within the context of your new role as manager. You test objectives and find that some worked and others didn’t, and you take time to reflect on those outcomes and understand why they did or didn’t work. Through that process you are acquiring the new skills necessary to be an effective manager.

 

Mike Gaffney managing director at LEAPMike Gaffney is managing director at LEAP.

 

 

 

 

 

Tricia Cunningham discusses management development, the crucial link between human resources and economic opportunity, and why it plays such a vital role in the long term success of organisations.

Tricia, why is it critical for companies to invest in management development?
Now that the economy has started to turn in a positive direction, the skills that employees currently have may not be the skills that will allow them to help an organisation grow, and maximize business opportunities that are carved out through hard work. Over the last number of years the focus for many organisations have been doing what’s needed to get ahead one step at a time, but now that things are improving and opportunities are opening up, people and organisations will need to start thinking differently and incorporating new skills to maximize those opportunities.

What business supports should senior managers and business owners consider?
(1) First, organisations should start thinking about what requirements their organisation will need over the next eighteen months, and mapping out the skills needed to deliver on those requirements. From that they can start to consider and assess their employees against those requirements. They can then determine the best way to develop a new set of required skills. There are many different approaches to developing people from formal training programmes to giving employees the opportunity to work on new projects.

(2) Secondly, over the last number of years managers have been working in environments heavily focused on cost reduction with few resources available to them. So the focus has been on the technical deliverables; delivering to the specific requirements of customers and getting paid. Now that things are changing again, managers need to understand that how they manage a team and interact and guide a team is vitally important to the long term future of the business. People skills are critical to that future so it’s not sufficient to focus only on the technical aspects of the job.

(3) Thirdly, we have to recognise that if the economy continues to grow as it is with a current unemployment rate of 8.6, having dropped from a peak of over 14, it is becoming more of an employee market. If that rate continues the organisations that don’t invest in employees and help employees to develop their skills will lose those key employees. Generally speaking, employees who work in an organisation value opportunities to develop and enhance their skills. Investment in them and developing those skills can have considerable payback in terms of commitment, loyalty and a desire to do more, deliver more and assist the organisation to grow.

So owners and leaders need to consider development as an investment. Before any training begins, they must agree with the employee the skills to be developed and how the organisation expects the individual to demonstrate those skills back at work. In this way the leader can see that development is no longer a cost but a sound investment. By focusing on developing the skills of key individuals, organisations are better positioned to grow and retain key employees who have assisted them in the harder times and are also equipped to maximize the new opportunities.

Business Effectiveness

Understanding Management Best Practices
Managers need to be supported in developing the key skills to manage people effectively; learning from their experience isn’t sufficient. It’s about understanding management best practices and determining how they can be applied in the organisation so that organisations are developing strong competent teams that can work effectively together and with the manager; a team who respects the manager and learns from the manager.

Personal Growth and Career Ambition
When an individual works in an organisation there isn’t always the expectation that by participating in management development programmes they are going to climb the rungs of the ladder, but rather they are enhancing the skills they have. They are broadening their knowledge and broadening the opportunities they have to do different types of work. That is also development and this is often very satisfying for an employee. When you work in the SME sector you know there are few opportunities to climb the rungs because there are very few rungs on the ladder to begin with.

Management DevelopmentAnd if you work in a large organisation you need to be careful not to give the impression that development is all about climbing the ladder because when an opportunity presents itself, six people may go forward for that opportunity but only one person can secure the role. What happens to the other five candidates? How are they to be managed so they don’t become deflated and believe that there are no opportunities in the business? They need to understand there are opportunities to develop skills that are still very valuable and will ensure they remain employable and valuable to the organisation. They need to know they can continuously contribute to the organisation and that’s why investment in their development is important.

Shouldn’t organisations continuously develop staff whether the economy is good or bad?
Yes but when organisations have experienced the kind of recession that we had, one of the first things that gets cut is training and development for staff, because during a downturn development is too costly for a business. Now that many businesses are in a position where they can make some investment in their people again, they need to consider the supports available out there, like government funded supports to help them develop their team. These business supports ensure the cost isn’t borne fully by the organisation particularly for those that may not yet be in a position to do so. But if they can bear some of the cost, government agencies will step in and provide further funding and support.

Can you give an example of business supports that are available?
There is a strong organisation called Skillnets that are located around the country and their remit is to provide support for organisations seeking to develop their people. Skillnets will supplement part of the overall cost of the training and development in-company, but Skillnets will also provide open programmes for people at a reduced cost per employee. These two options for the organisation should facilitate them in developing their teams further.

Larger organisations like Enterprise Ireland have grants available as part of overall programmes that focus on efficiencies in organisations. As part of that there are various LEAN programmes and training and development falls within the remit and scope of those grants and business supports.

What management development supports do LEAP offer organisations?
LEAP recognises the need for strong leadership, effective management and engaged employees in organisations. From our 15 years’ experience of working with companies we have put together programmes that focus on developing the core skills of these three groups. Additionally we look at operational effectiveness to ensure that not only are the people working effectively, but that they are focusing on the right things and doing them right.

How is your organisation preparing for economic recovery? Let us know with a comment below.

Tricia Cunningham

Tricia Cunningham is co-founder and senior partner at LEAP

 

 

 

When the New Year began many of us committed to being more organised and structured at work. We made great efforts to tidy our desks and eliminate the clutter we’d magically accumulated. We committed to using our calendars more effectively and to prioritising tasks and actions. This is all good and indeed necessary. Now it’s time to expand our focus and consider additional actions to assist us in becoming more effective and efficient.

The big complaint many have is the amount of time spent at meetings. Ask anyone about the greatest time wasters and invariably attending meetings will be mentioned. People get frustrated when they consider the time spent at meetings versus the results achieved. Too often they consider meetings exhaustive, repetitive and worst of all a waste of time! When you add up the cost of each person attending the meeting and the length of time of the meeting, what is the cost to your organisation? Can you say this is good value for money? If not, what are you going to do about it?

Take Action

To address this issue begin by looking at the meetings you have control over. Work to make these meetings as efficient and productive as possible. Consider the following:

1. Define the need for the meeting
Every meeting should have a clear purpose which is evident to all. Simply having the meeting because you’ve always had it is not good enough. Define the outcomes the meeting needs to achieve e.g. measure progress on the project versus what was planned and identify next steps.

2. Determine who should participate in the meeting
Everybody’s time is precious. Don’t include someone unless you can clearly articulate the reason why they should attend and the input you expect from the person.

3. Develop an agenda and distribute it to all involved with sufficient time for them to prepare for the meeting
An agenda needs to have structure. It is not a list of bullet points. An agenda should include a directive e.g. Agree the response to senior management on the new process for resolving customer issues. An agenda should also have the items prioritised and times assigned to each so attendees also know they key issues that will receive the greatest focus.

4. Anticipate how you will facilitate the meeting
The facilitator’s job to keep the meeting on track and ensure the issues identified are addressed. The key skill required is communication: the skill of actively listening, challenging contributions, drawing in reserved people and limiting others who are dominating. In advance consider how you will manage these different challenges and anticipate your responses to the dominant person or indeed the reserved individual.

5. Following your meeting evaluate effectiveness
Review the agenda and determine progress made in terms of achieving what you had identified. Ask others about the meeting: how was it helpful and how could it be improved? Be prepared to stop meetings if they are no longer required.

Of course when it comes to meetings in which you participate you need to consider how you can influence the facilitator to take on board your recommendations for managing the meeting more effectively. Also, query your participation on meetings. Be disciplined and consider your value to the organisation: would you be more valuable to your organisation by attending the meeting or focusing on other deliverables? Of course, when opting out of meetings you need to consider how you communicate that to the facilitator. Again, communication skills are critical.

Tricia CunninghamTricia Cunningham is the co-founder and senior partner at LEAP.

 

 

 

 

 

How damaging can a negative company culture be to a business?

Working with companies throughout Ireland, it’s evident we underestimate the effect bad habits and practices have on business performance. Companies are coming out of the recession and want to kick on. They are looking to make the most of the improving economic conditions. Business leaders want to develop new approaches to driving the business forward and managing the teams who will need to deliver the results. However, unless the leader takes a detached perspective and looks seriously at how people think and act within the business, then all the commitments to change won’t take hold. Those underlying negative habits (largely invisible) which have become ingrained in the day-to-day activities of the business must be addressed.

To change the company from within requires an understanding of how individual and collective habits are developed.

First of all developing habits is natural, the human brain, (and animal brain – just watch what your dog does when he thinks you are taking him for a walk) is programmed to develop habits like driving a car. The first time it’s awkward and clunky. With experience and practice it becomes a subconscious behaviour, and that’s how the brain works, it actively looks to create habits. So if you’re going to make serious changes in your business with a view to maximizing new opportunities, you need to recognise the subconscious habits and often limiting behaviours that are holding the organisation back. Without recognising and addressing them you won’t achieve the changes that are necessary to transform the business.

What should business owners do to change negative habitual behaviour?

It was Einstein who said ‘we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’ The big issue here is a lack of recognition of underlying negative habits and behaviour by the business owners and management team. Making statements to staff such as ‘we need to change’ isn’t good enough. Yes you can map out a new strategy for the business, but that won’t work either if you don’t address people’s negative behaviours. A fundamental change in behaviour must occur for any real progress to be made. Effective businesses recognise that they need three things to work in tandem to enable them to be successful (as strongly advocated by Jim Collins in ‘Good to Great’ a number of years ago).

Developing Winning Company Habits

That sounds great in theory. In reality the company is where it is with the existing team, so how can an existing company successfully adopt the above disciplines and thereby replace legacy habits and behaviours. It can be done by individual and collective re-framing as to how it thinks and acts. To effectively make this level of internal change requires an understanding as to how change is internalised. We look to Willian Glasser’s ‘Retention Triangle’ as outlined in the diagram below.

We retain/ remember:

Glasser's retention triangle

Now in line with Glasser’s retention triangle, as a business owner I want to have disciplined people, thought and execution in my company. If I can get my core team to interact and develop something collectively which they will then communicate (educate) to the full team, then I have a strong possibility of bedding down the three disciplines.

Are there any practical tools that businesses can use to bed down the three disciplines?

Yes the futureSME methodology which uses visual management tools to map a company’s strategy and the lines of action to execute the strategy, and the KPIs to ensure strong operational performance is delivered. The team also develop effective business disciplines through the ongoing execution and focus on the strategy. It is a powerful and underestimated management tool to prevent us from focusing on one area and neglecting other equally important ones.

The futureSME methodology was derived from an EU Framework 7 programme managed by the University of Strathclyde with 23 EU partners. Its remit was to identify best practices in highly successful businesses and determine how they could be applied successfully in the SME sector. The futureSME methodology is proving its impact in Ireland with over 50 companies having deployed the futureSME foundation programme successfully. futureSME is an approved programme within the Action Plan for Jobs 2015 and its deployment is managed by ManagementWorks.

Mike Gaffney, Managing Director LEAP

Mike Gaffney managing director at LEAP

 

 

 

 

How do you know as a manager that you have had a good year?

Here are the 5 things that will tell you.

1. You have less to do!
Most managers do not believe that their purpose in life is to make themselves redundant! In fact managers generally behave in a way that makes them essential to the business and create work. But if your responsibility is to develop the people who report to you, delegate tasks effectively, increase efficiency and eliminate waste then the logical outcome of great management is that you will have less and less to do. The key question is…… what you do with the time you have freed up?

2. You have dealt with a poor performer.
Sorry about this, but every team, group or organisation will have people who are not making a contribution. No matter how much we focus on positivity, develop high performers and build teams there is always someone to be dealt with. It is difficult and sometimes easier to ignore it. But in my view, confronting the issue always has a positive outcome even though there may be short term pain.

3. You find the business environment is simple, not complex.
Be concise, get to the point, and make it simple. Few people can deliver the simplicity that is the foundation of superb communication. Instead they mistakenly assume that the boss or their direct reports will be impressed by long presentations to show how much they know, or that they will win people over by talking more, not less. There is a lack of appreciation that in today’s world all information is available through the internet, knowledge is no longer power! It is your ability to synthesise, to connect the dots in new ways, to ask the simple smart questions that lead to untapped opportunities.

4. You realise that the right Attitude is the most important thing in an employee.
In recent study the Harvard Business School stated that 14 of the success of an employee is related to their technical ability, their skill or knowledge but that 86 of an employee’s success is due to their attitude, intention and sense of purpose.

5. And finally, you have performed well with your Key Performance Indicators.
This is obvious, I hear you say, except for the many people who have been too busy to develop KPI’s. Or maybe you have agreed them at the start of the year but you are not sure what they are now. Many companies lack the discipline to agree meaningful performance indicators and regularly review progress. This discipline is fundamental to avoiding the “busy fool” behaviour which is all too common in business today. If we take the points 1 to 4 above seriously then we will avoid the “busy fool” syndrome.

Don’t worry, in a few weeks you get the chance to start again. Happy New Year!

 

Team leaders should always be improving

 

John Raftery explains why team leaders should always be improving in order to keep staff engaged across the whole organisation and develop a successful company culture. Leaders need to create the right environment where employees at every level strive to maintain high standards and help them to reach and exceed company goals and objectives.

Effective team leaders build confidence in other people

In terms of interpersonal skills and the relationship between senior managers and the people who report to them, it’s very important to strike the right note with the people who are reporting to you. You need to encourage them and develop them, and get them to work with you. On a surface level your personal appearance and body language is very important. Body language is one of the key factors in creating confidence in other people and in yourself. It’s about sitting up straight, standing straight, looking people in the eye, having a firm handshake. All of these things are important in terms of body language, because you are sending out signals to people all the time. People pick up on these signals very quickly; it becomes a hidden dialogue between people.

Leaders behaviour dictates company culture

If you’re showing any kind of frustration, anxiety or impatience, people will pick up on it even if you’re trying to cover it up. If you’re showing any doubt or uncertainty or if you are slow to make decisions, all of these things create an atmosphere around you and this can permeate throughout the organisation. What I’ve learned above all else is that the behaviour of the leader of any organisation dictates the culture of the organisation. While personal appearance and body language are very important, ultimately the most important thing is the behaviour of the senior people in the organisation; their behaviour dictates everything else.

Empathy is one of the key skills of influential people

One of the key things you try to develop in working with senior executives in a coaching programme is trying to get them to develop empathy. Empathy is one of the key skills of influential people and a vital component of leadership. Empathy is being able to see things from another person’s viewpoint, to put yourself in their shoes so that you can try to understand them better, and be able to influence them more. Where you show high levels of empathy people will be drawn towards you. You will begin to understand people better and you can even start coaching them yourself. Ultimately executive coaching is about trying to bring the best out of people. It’s about winning people over and getting them to perform at their best because they want to perform at their best.

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 Why do an executive coaching programme?

To a large extent we live in our own heads to a large extent. We find it difficult sometimes to step outside of ourselves to see how we behave, to understand ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses a little better. You need that external viewpoint, you need somebody who can hold up a mirror to you and give you a clear picture of who you are and how you behave. To help you discover what is working and what isn’t working , and be able to discuss these things in a confidential and safe environment. A good executive coach will really challenge you and your behaviour. If you can become more aware of your behaviour and if you can control your behaviour better, this will affect the behaviour within the organisation. The organisation itself then becomes more controlled and aligned with the goals you want to achieve.

Setting standards across the whole organisation

One of the most common problems for managers is accepting shoddy work from staff. Employees come to them with information that’s half-baked or incomplete, or in a format that is unclear and some managers accept that. These managers often end up sitting down and trying to make sense of the information themselves. What they should be doing is sending these employees back out of the room, and telling them to come back when they have all the information clearly presented in the format you require.

Team leaders should always be improving

It’s about setting standards, that’s the important thing. We often get used to doing things a certain way over a long period of time. Sometimes we are just not aware that we are accepting mediocrity, we start to believe that what we do is ‘good enough.’ But if we personally raise our own standards then we will challenge other people who work for us to raise their standards too. That’s the key thing that you as a business owner, or as a team leader, should always be trying to achieve; raising the standards of the whole organisation.

Interview by Des Kirby

 

John RafteryJohn Raftery is Executive Coach and Senior Partner at LEAP.

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