Tag: LEAP leadership

A common misconception is that lean is only suitable for manufacturing but have a look at the article below and see how lean can be applied in the creative world and professional services.

Lean – first of all, what is it?

The core philosophy of lean is the elimination of waste. While it is easy to identify physical waste the greater challenge in most organisations is to identify the waste of time and resources. Most organisations are extremely busy, fire-fighting and pressure to meet deadlines are a way of life. Lean provides a structured approach and tried and trusted methodologies to eliminating wasted effort in organisations. It goes beyond the sloganeering of “work smarter not harder” and shows people how to analyse the true value of their work and eliminate non-value added activities.

A popular misconception is that lean is suited only for manufacturing. Not true. Lean applies in every organisation and every process. It is not a tactic or a cost reduction program, but a way of thinking and acting for an entire organisation.

The starting point of any lean programme is Value Stream Mapping. This involves the people working in the process stepping back and mapping the process to identify the value and non-value activities they regularly engage with. From here several techniques are employed to get to the root cause of the non-value add activities. The result is an increase in the effectiveness of the individuals or team performance.

Lean is not a stand-alone programme but supports the implementation of policies and procedures in a meaningful way. It is a change management programme and as such will require the engagement of employees fully. Therefore, it is important that a lean initiative is not seen as the “flavour of the month” or something that is imposed by senior management. Key to success will be introducing a lean programme in such a way that employees see the benefits of the programme and that it is fully supported by the leadership of the organisation. All successful lean initiatives recognise that people are the key to success and as such LEAP are well equipped to support the people development element of the programme.

Examples of Lean in practice.

  A Design Studio

A design studio in a printing company kept five fully committed designers very busy. When we analysed how many hours of their working week was billed to customers (Value add work) we discovered that they were 52 efficient. The remaining 48 of their time was non-value added work. This was the time spent answering queries from production, requesting further information from clients, clarifying issues with the sales teams etc.

The first thing we did was create an “Interruptions Board” We assigned one of the five designers to deal with all interruptions. Each of the five were assigned one day per week as their day to deal with interruptions. On their assigned day, they would deal with the call or visitor and place their query on the board under the name of designer the query was directed towards. That designer would then deal with the query when he/she was taking a break or at the end of the day. This allowed four designers to work uninterrupted every day.

Following on from this, the designers could look at the nature of the interruptions and through using lean techniques were able to establish the root cause of the interruptions. Working together with production, clients and sales team they developed systems to reduce the non-value added activities.  The increase in value added activity in the studio increased from 52 to 83 within months and they continue to uses the methodology for continuous improvement.

 Accountancy Practice

When you visit an accounts office the “work” is invisible, in other words you see lots of people sitting at computer terminals. It is impossible to determine how effective the operation is or how efficient each individual is. There is no doubt that everyone is “busy”.

By undertaking Value Stream Mapping, we were able to see that most of the work that came into the office had incomplete paperwork, forms missing, items not attached etc. This meant that when employees started a job they were not in position to complete it. This necessitated making a phone call or emailing a client to request the full information. The job was set aside until the information was made available. They then started another job and the same thing happened. This resulted in a huge amount of Work In Progress. There was confusion as to the status of individual jobs, clients not returning information, forgetting to chase up etc. This kept everyone busy.

When we demonstrated this by graphing the workflows we then set about doing a root cause analysis to develop systems and processes to prevent incomplete jobs entering the system. We also created a visual system that could measure the improved efficiency of the department. It resulted in much better management of peak times in the business such as year-end accounts. There was less stress for the staff and the necessity to work late in the evenings disappeared.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
E: info@leadership.ie

 

 

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

LEAP are delighted to announce that Mike Gaffney will be working with Finn Harps football club in the development of a new strategic development plan beginning in October. The plan will support the long term development of the club.

A statement from the club secretary John Campbell said:

It is with this in mind that the club is running a focus group workshop at the start of the strategy development process, which will be held on Monday 3rd of October from 6-8 p.m. in the Villa Rose Hotel, Ballybofey.

The focus session will be facilitated by Mike Gaffney of LEAP and it will follow the format of round table discussions, with the insights from each table captured and collated by LEAP. These insights will provide direct insights into the formulation of the club’s strategy.

The purpose of the strategy is to provide all the club’s stakeholders with a clear understanding as to where Harps is going and how it proposes to get there.

To read the full statement visit Finn Harps Website

 

Mike Gaffney breaks down the differences between leadership styles V leadership skills and discusses the role both play in helping business owners and team leaders build successful organisations. As Mike points out, it is essential for leaders to understand their audience but it’s also crucial for leaders to be honest and authentic and avoid ‘putting on an act.’

Leadership Styles

Goleman describes different leadership styles – coercive, authoritative, democratic and so on – but essentially there are two factors that will affect business leaders and their leadership style. One is the circumstances of the situation they find themselves in. For example, if you’re a sports coach leading the under 10 football team, the leadership style you would use with children of that age would be very different than the style you would use with senior county players. So you have to choose a leadership style that is appropriate to the audience you are working with.

The second thing is that individual leaders need to understand their own capability in terms of the audience they are best suited to. Again, using the sports analogy, you could have a coach who is brilliant with leading adult teams and achieves great success with them but is utterly lost when it comes to leading children’s teams. That coach just doesn’t know how to connect with the young team and of course it happens the other way around too. Some coaches may have a real flair for inspiring and leading youth teams but may not be effective at all when faced with an adult team. So when it comes to leadership style, the leader must first understand the audience that he or she is dealing with and they must be confident that they can successfully apply their leadership style to that particular group.

The Authentic Leader

To put on a style that isn’t you would be a huge error because the most important quality in any team leader is authenticity. Employees want to see a leader who is comfortable in their own skin and is genuine and is not putting on an act. People would rather have a leader who may stumble from time to time but they are genuine, rather than a leader putting on an act that they think their audience wants to see. People can see through that act, they know it’s false and that’s when the leader loses all credibility.

So authenticity is crucial for any leader, be it a business owner or team leader within an organisation.

People generally warm to those leaders who are natural and comfortable in their own skin. They don’t necessarily have all the answers and don’t pretend to. Showing ourselves to be human is actually a strong trait in a leader. If you hear employees describe their boss as a ‘natural leader’ they are describing someone who is really just being themselves and not putting on an act.

Leadership Programme DublinSo a great leader doesn’t have to fit the stereotype of a tough military-style, aggressive leader?
Not at all, that’s more of a lazy media representation of leadership, like the brash and egotistical image of Donald Trump. Actually, the most effective business leaders out there are the quiet types who are working away in the background making their businesses work successfully and they don’t seek any attention for what they do. These are people with a genuine passion for what they do; people who have built up a level of expertise in their field and who are very persistent. Employees and management teams trust them. The tribe will always follow somebody that they believe will help them create a better future for them and their family. They will trust the company where they feel safe and feel they are looked after in terms of confident leadership, promotion opportunities and job security.

Leadership Skills

There is a tendency, particularly in the corporate sector, for people to think that the more senior the leader the more skills they have to have. So if you are junior manager you might be good at communication or good at time management, but as you move into more senior roles you must be a great communicator, be more charismatic, be an influencer or have high motivational skills. The list of requirements gets longer and longer. When you look at it, the Richard Bransons of the world and some politicians, haven’t got a wide range of leadership skills. They have a few skills that they are particularly good at. For example, Richard Branson is a great PR man and he just keeps applying that skill to promote the Virgin brand.

Take great political leaders like Harry Truman. He was an ordinary man from Missouri and he is widely considered to be one of America’s most effective presidents after Washington and Lincoln. He was a farm boy, never went to college but he had honesty, integrity and decisiveness. He trusted his instincts and people trusted his leadership.

His skill was in taking ownership of his responsibilities and handling the pressures of the office of president.

He listened well to others but he also trusted his gut and made clear decisions. OK some decisions he made were wrong, he didn’t always get things right. But he led his team and he wasn’t afraid to make difficult decisions or to accept responsibility for the outcomes. There are a lot of people surrounding the leader who would not like to be in that position of having to make the tough decisions. The pressure and responsibility of that would be too much for many people.

 

What do business leaders really want from their managers? Is it their experience, knowledge and technical expertise?

These things are important to business leaders when they recruit people into management positions. However, as LEAP MD Mike Gaffney explains, what leaders really want from managers more than anything else is for them to take ownership of the role of manager. That means making decisions, fully committing to them and taking responsibility for outcomes.

Take Ownership
The number one requirement that leaders want from managers is for managers to take ownership for their area of responsibility. That means making decisions, dealing with the problems in their area and generally getting on with the job and delivering on their department’s objectives.

They want managers to stop looking over their shoulder waiting for approval or permission to make decisions.

Be Decisive
There is an old saying that many leaders and managers are familiar with that goes ‘seek forgiveness rather than ask for permission.’ It’s vital to be decisive in your role as manager. Make a decision, look for the best outcome and if it works out great. Make sure you are able to explain why it worked out so it can be replicated.

If it doesn’t work out, dust yourself down and get on with the job because that’s your responsibility.

Commit to your decisions
So ownership is by far the biggest requirement leaders are looking for from their managers, but decisiveness is also a crucial factor. Another key element leaders look for is commitment. This simply means following through on decisions and ensuring that others in the team do the same until company objectives are met.

If managers take ownership of their area, and are prepared to make clear decisions and fully commit to them, then leaders can focus more of their time on doing what they do best – leading the business.

So the message for managers is clear: take ownership, make decisions and fully commit to them.

What if I as a manager make a decision and it turns out to be the wrong one?
If the decision goes wrong for the manager, it might cause problems and tempers may get frayed because of it. However, you are actually delivering on what you were hired to do. You were hired to take responsibility for a particular area of the business, to make it work as best you could.

If you don’t take ownership or you can’t make decisions then you are not managing.

You might get into hot water from time to time but when things cool down, the smart business owner will realise that you took ownership and you were decisive and you fully committed to your decision. They can see you are doing your best as a manager. That shows you take responsibility for your actions and that is something they can respect.

What they cannot respect is a lack of responsibility or ownership of decisions and outcomes.

So managers should be prepared to make decisions rather than asking the business owner for permission all the time. The outcomes may reveal that the role was beyond you and your capabilities but it won’t be because of a lack of commitment or indecision on your part.

 

“Do I need to do a management development programme?” It doesn’t sound like a particularly difficult question but for some managers admitting they are struggling in their role is tantamount to admitting failure, or that their admission will be perceived as a sign of weakness. In reality it is neither. Mike Gaffney explains why looking for help in the form of a management development programme is a clear sign of strength not weakness. Keeping it simple, what’s needed is an open and honest discussion between the manager and the boss.

Try to clearly state what the actual need is regarding your current situation. It could be as simple and as frustrating as:

“Look I don’t feel confident in my management role. I used to work with these people 6 months ago. Now I’m their supervisor but they still see me as a colleague. I’m finding it hard to delegate and there’s one particular member of the group who won’t accept that I am now his manager. How can I sort this out?”

Very few senior managers or employers would respond negatively to such a request, because first of all the individual is showing huge commitment to the company but also to changing themselves in order to improve their performance. If you have somebody of that mind-set, they are valuable and you want to keep them and tap into more of their potential. They have had the courage to come to you and put their case to you. From the boss’s perspective, this is someone who wants to develop and contribute more so they should be willing to make that happen. The return on investment in getting managers performing to a high standard is very substantial.

do i need to do a management development programmeBy having that conversation with your boss, you invite open and honest discussion and get their perspective which helps to lock them into a commitment. It is not a sign of weakness to go to your boss and admit that you are struggling in the role and that you need help. On the contrary it is a sign of strength. When you make yourself vulnerable and challenge yourself you will often find the world responds by saying “fair play, you are giving it your best shot.” You might assume that people see it as weakness when really the world sees it as courageous. We don’t like being vulnerable because it’s an uncertain feeling and we don’t like uncertainty, but others often see it differently; they see it as a sign of strength.

With the economy improving we are finding more and more employers asking the question, “how do we retain our best people?” Well, one way is to provide them with all the support they need. So managers should ask for the support that will make a difference to you and your organisation.

 

  • 1
  • 2