Tag: management skills

Tricia CunninghamEmployees are often chosen for a new management position based on performance in their current role. But individual skills in a current role are not always a good indicator of an employee’s ability to manage a team of people. Managing teams is a different ball game requiring a different mindset and tactics to match. With years of experience in delivering management training and development programmes, Tricia Cunningham discusses the critical issues that new management recruits need to consider from the start. Senior managers and managing directors should also consider these insights before choosing employees to fill management positions.

Tricia, in terms of effective management what are the things new management recruits need to know?
New managers generally begin with confidence – after all, they have been promoted because of their skills and what they have done to date. However, when you move into a management role, what served them well in getting to that point isn’t necessarily going to serve them well going forward. Things have to change.

First, the way they think about their role and get their heads around what it means to be a manager. So it’s no longer good enough to work really hard, and deliver on what you have been doing before. You have to get your team working effectively, and ensure everybody in the team is doing what they should be doing, delivering on what they should be delivering on, and you’re giving them the feedback to keep them motivated.

After that you then need to consider ‘what do I need to do to deliver on my new goals?’ Many new managers begin with working hard at what they are doing and feel their staff is dragging from them. They see them more as a burden rather than as a resource they can use to ensure the organisation is moving forward, and more targets are achieved. So the first mistake managers make is they don’t change their mind-set, they don’t think about what the role is and what’s required.

Secondly, because they haven’t changed the way they think about nature of the role, they continue to focus on delivering on just the tasks they had been doing all along, and just doing more of them.

What other factors affect new managers?
Often the challenge for many new managers is that they are managing people they have worked with before. So now a colleague has suddenly become somebody who is directly reporting to the new manager. And managing that relationship can be difficult for a new manager, understanding that things have shifted.

What can a new manager do in that situation?
You need to have a conversation with your employees and outline what it is that you, as a new manager, want to achieve. When we don’t make that space for that conversation we continue as we were until an issue arises. Then when an issue arises the new manager chooses to bury their head in the sand and pretend it isn’t there, they don’t address it properly, so they need to make that space.

It has to be a discussion around, ‘look this is the role, this is what I want, and this is how I see us working together as a team. And this is my role within the team.’ So that people understand the new context, and it is set out from the beginning that I am the new manager and you are my team. It becomes very difficult for emerging managers to establish themselves and their authority with the team if there hasn’t been some type of formal introduction.

Regarding these particular issues how can LEAP help new managers?
New managers need to feel confident in their role. To have confidence you have to have the knowledge and the skills to deliver. There’s no point in putting a new manager into that role if they are not given the knowledge and skills to deliver on it and execute the role effectively. The Emerging Managers programme provides a setting for them to learn new information and to understand how that information applies to their role. They get the knowledge they need, and they get the opportunity to see how that’s applied so they can build their skills further.

Equipped with knowledge and skills, you start to build your confidence, so new managers need a formal programme to help them develop. Just assuming the person understands what it means to be a manager is just setting the individual, and the organisation, up for failure. A good management development programme is one that addresses the core issue – people management skills – and does it in a practical way.

What’s the qualification at the end of that?
The Emerging Managers programme offers a  QQI Level 6 component certificate in Managing People. The certification is very practical and is based on the individual’s experience at work. It’s asking them to analyse and evaluate what they are currently doing in terms of managing people, and what insights they have learned about themselves. It’s through that process that they earn their certificate. It’s a great practical assessment and it reinforces best practices, and provides an opportunity for an individual to build their confidence.

What kind of feedback do you get from people about Emerging Managers?
We get great feedback, just look at some of the  testimonials we receive. To summarise the impact I would say its increased confidence in people’s ability to manage people, and early detection and addressing of issues with people. Participants also improve their communication skills across teams as managers become confident, and recognising the importance of communicating with team members, whether it’s in team meetings or providing feedback on a one-to-one basis. There is also evidence of greater confidence in their ability to manage the workload because practical tips, suggestions and tools are provided in terms of managing workloads.

Does Emerging Managers provide mentoring?
It depends on the programme and the agreement with the client. Some companies opt to do internal mentoring. We will sit with senior managers to identify who would make a good mentor. We run a mentoring workshop with them to help them understand what the role is, and they will mentor participants as they work their way through the programme. Or sometimes LEAP will be involved in the mentoring itself. Sometimes there’s no mentoring, just workshops that are delivered for them. Working with the client we help them determine the best option for their organisation and for their team.

 

 

What is management?

Managers need to do many things, but clarifying business objectives, and deciding key performance indicators (KPI) to measure against those objectives, is crucial to effective performance management. It may, or may not, come as a surprise to you that many businesses in Ireland don’t document either of these. A company’s vision has to be supported by a clear set of objectives. Managers need to know how and why they reached some objectives, but failed to reach others. Maureen Grealish, director at LEAP, spent eight years in a business advisory role dealing with these very issues. Here she shares some of her insights into why business objectives and KPI’s are inextricably linked to your bottom line.

Maureen, in your experience how many businesses have their objectives clearly defined?
Most businesses don’t have any objectives, because they don’t realise the importance of it. There is a phrase ‘what gets measured gets managed.’ Sometimes people are taken up with the enormity of their tasks and they don’t realise that by focusing on 5 or 6 key things they can have a lot more impact on their business. Objectives are the 5 or 6 key things that they need to address in a given time period. That time period could be 6 months or a year, whatever the right time frame is for that particular business. But without that reference point you find that people are fire-fighting a lot, or business becomes very reactive. When they have an objective in place they have a target, and it helps them act in a more disciplined way. It also helps them measure how they’re doing as they go along so they know if they are on the right course or not.

So there are businesses operating without any set of objectives in place?
Yes because they don’t have a strategy. We ask people ‘what’s your vision for the business?’ If that’s your vision what’s your strategy for getting there? The objectives need to be linked to the strategy. So your strategy might be for a 5 year period. So let’s take the first year as a time frame. In order to achieve the vision, and thereby the strategy, what do you need to have achieved in that first time frame. And then the next time frame, and then the next. So the objectives should be seen as a set of milestones towards achieving the vision. But many businesses don’t have a vision, don’t have a strategy and don’t have objectives.

If they don’t have a set of objectives, what are they actually doing on a daily basis?
It depends. This is one of the big issues in business. They are essentially managing what’s in front of them. Some are managing their current customers, others are managing their current work rate, or they’re managing current staff but they don’t have an eye on the future. They might have an idea of where they want to get to but they’re not actively managing towards it. They’re almost hoping it will happen without actually steering themselves towards it.

How are objectives measured in terms of Key Performance Indicators?
If you have five or six key objectives you will have a measure for each one that makes sense to that particular objective. You generally have two financial based objectives, so you’ll have two financial KPIs. So for turnover you’re measurement will be a sales report. For a profit objective the measure would be your monthly managed accounts, the actual profit or loss figure.

For non-financial objectives you need to come up with a measure that makes more sense to that objective. Once you have developed the objectives the next thing you do is develop the measures for each one. For a customer service type of objective you may look at doing customer surveys, or mystery shoppers or you might do some kind of audit, where you score for a particular performance, and monitor that over a period of time to see that the action you are taking is making an improvement. It’s about picking a method that will measure the effect of an objective.

Give an example of a poorly thought out objective.
A poorly thought out objective would be ‘I’d like to increase sales.’ It doesn’t have any reference to how much you want to increase sales by, where you’re starting from or the time period where you want it to increase. So a better objective, when you’re looking at sales, would be to increase sales by 10{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} by Dec 2014. What you’re trying to do is establish a measure that will hit every element of the SMART acronym – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. Until the objective can tick each one of those then you don’t have a good objective.

How can LEAP help managers and businesses with this critical issue?
We do it as part of an overall process. We need to see the wider context of what they’re trying to achieve in business. So we work with senior management initially to work out what the vision is for that business. Then they need to break that down into manageable chunks. So they may have a three year vision, but they need to focus on the first year. So in the first year what are the five or six key things they need to focus on in order to help them get closer to their vision?

What LEAP can do is help them with their vision. Agree on what the specific objectives are, and identify the measurements they will use. Help them agree on the timeline and implement the strategic plan. Help them monitor their performance, adjust their behaviour and achieve their vision.

Maureen Grealish is a partner and director at LEAP.

Developing Your Management SkillsThey say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. When managing people we seem to be a little insane. We do the same things over and over again with people and expect them to change.

We speak to people the same way, repeating ourselves in the belief that people “just don’t get it”. And yet things don’t change.  We tick the box of ‘Management Skills’ development by participating in management training courses so the conclusion we reach is that we’re doing things right, the employee is doing something wrong. Perhaps it’s time for us to stop and hit the pause button.

We need to begin with ourselves and look at what we’re doing and not doing so that we can break the behaviour cycle. If we come at the issue from a different perspective we can often come up with a different, better solution. Look at why you think the employee acted the way he/she did and the thought process behind the action. Discuss with the employee and together develop alternative approaches. Good communication solves many issues and results in solutions that work long term.

Tricia Cunningham