- Integrity and Trust. Mr Polman constantly mentions these two key operating ideals - which means they are the guiding principles he operates by.
- Longevity. Mr Polman completed his MBA in 1979. There was no overnight success or lightening trip to the top. All good leaders take time to develop their skill and their philosophy of management.
- Decisive. Mr Polman prooved he had the metal to operate and think clearly with in the midst of a crisis (Unilever chief Paul Polman ditches pay rises and targets).
Saturday, October 31, 2009
- Climate. Know what is happening to your organisation, what the current pressures are and what strategy is being carried out.
- Signs of the times. Study what is happening and to whom. Read and listen between the lines. Be aware of what is occurring in other parts of the organisation and let these serve as a barometer for the temperature.
- Alternatives. Try practising De Bono's 'Six Thinking Hat's '. Learn to see the situation through a number of different views.
- Opinions. Ask others what think of your options and let them provide constructive criticism.
The first choice option, while it may seem the most obvious and crucial, aren't always as crucial or beneficial as they may first appear.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
So why do we focus so much on - creating and maintaining teams?
There is nothing wrong with individuals. Individuals make up teams and need to be treated as individuals.
"There's no I in team, but there is in win" Michael Jordan.
What does this mean? Teams are made up of individuals, but for the team to win the individuals must take responsibility for themselves.
Individuals need individual - coaching, development and time.
Here's a great article from Don Bobinski of Management-Issues that talks about the same issue in a slightly different way.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
A) One a successful engineer, who had previously worked on some very cool projects, was made redundant along with 139 other engineers - all at the same time.
B) Another had bought into a real estate company venture dealing only with top end customers. It was all fine until the recession hit.
C) A very good friend of mine went in search of the bright lights, found a new job, and then found it is the same job as she used to have - only in a far bigger setting.
What can we learn from these three people and their situations?
A) Used his class contacts to find a similar engineering role and is now doing very nicely and is the number two in charge. Lesson - contacts count. Meet people, stay in touch, strengthen relationships - you never know when you will need a favour.
B) Recessions go away. Okay it wasn't the best time to buy in - but - when is a good time? As the tide turns and fortunes increase, that company will have survived the absolute depths of darkness and will rise to stardom.
C) To make it in the city - you need to live in the city. Okay moving from one location to another for the same job may seem pointless. But the way you conduct business in the city is different to how you conduct business in the country! By moving to the city and re-learning the city culture - she will be better able to walk,talk and sell her skill sin such a way that employers will find it impossible to say no!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- Discover - analyse your skills and experience- understand what you are good at.
- Communicate - get feedback from your colleagues and managers on how you are exuding your and showing your brand.
- Define - how do you contribute to the organisation currently, and how can you contribute more.
- Create - work on a strategic plan where yo combine your personal strengths, passions and values to give maximum value inside and out of the organisation.
It all boils down to - knowing who you are, assessing where you at and changing the way you work. It is about making the most out of your performance both in work and out of work.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
- Know your organisation. Get a feel for what customers and stakeholders think the organisation does and also internal persons as well.
- Learn what the overall KPI's for your department are.
- Find out what departmental KPI's are directly relevant to your role.
- Establish responsibilities, delegate tasks and empower your employees to achieve the KPI's you are responsible for. Allow and coach your employees do the work.
This is the best place to start. Through understanding what you are being held accountable for - you can begin to assess your department/team/employees - and then gear up to achieve success.
In a nutshell - the middle manager exists to keep the engine finly tuned, well oiled and running.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
- Carry business cards with you all the time. Especially make sure you have them on you when you go to events where you know there will be someone you have never met before.
- Seek out others and be the first to introduce yourself. Be open, friendly and ready to listen.
- It's not all about you. People will be more open and receptive to you if you spend time asking about them and being genuine in your interest of them.
- Listen. Be quiet, let the other person talk and mentally note what they have said.
- Don't be afraid to sell your good points and strengths to others.
- Introduce others. If you meet someone interesting or someone who may be beneficial to someone you know - introduce them. This benefits the others and the organisation because without you - the contact may never have been made.
- Follow up. Make sure you call, email or visit again in the future to cement the relationship. Not all contacts are worth following up on - but many are.
Networking - not shameless self-promotion. But a method to make positive and valuable connections both for your benefit as well as others and eventually the organisation as a whole.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
- Maintain the conversation. Don't assume that because you emailed a client months ago and haven't followed up with them since then - that you are still the first choice deliverer of services.
- Keep in touch with your clients. Make sure you are at the forefront of their thinking.
- Don't assume because you have a contract you will always be their first choice. If your client doesn't hear from you or can't see you - guess what? They'll move on.
- Treat your client the way you want to be treated - with respect. If they ask a question - answer it! Respond to emails, make telephone calls.
- Create and maintain a communication plan. Emailing quarterly - just isn't good enough.
- Make sure everyone in the organisation understands what the agreement is and sticks to it. Have copies of the agreement handy, refer to it, remind people about it.
- If you make promises - make sure they happen. Customers don't forget. If you tell someone you are going to do something for them - do it!
The relationship between service provider and client is no different than any other relationship.
Both partners need to work together to ensure the relationship works!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Here are a few excerpts from the chapter on Team building -
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
People who work near each other (in an office etc.) can be either - a team or a group.
Whats the difference?
Team - a set of people, completing the same or similar tasks, in a close proximity to each other. Have overlapping work requirements and similar task knowledge is shared by all the group.
Group - a set of people, completing different tasks, within a work environment. Specialised work knowledge is required and one person completes their own set tasks.
Both groups require strong leaders, however each group will need to be led differently.
Teams - can be led in a more relational manner. Decisions tend to be more democratic and everyone hears what is going on together at the same time. This occurs more in new and smaller size workplaces.
Team goals and outcomes are set by the team.
Groups - can be led more in a one-to-one way. Decisions are made by the leader and the individual and then the rest of the group are told.
Individuals are held to account for their personal goals and performance outcomes.
This is one area that I have struggled to understand. In my memory no-one has ever explained the difference or the need to lead in different ways. It was such a relief for me to figure this out! My management style and focus - just went to another level!
Check out - Leadership Development Coaching for this interesting article on leading teams and groups.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Here are a few ideas that might help you -
- Spell check all documents you are sending out! A spelling mistake is not a good look.
- Make a plan. Decide what you want and start working towards getting there.
- Ask friends. Ask friends to ask friends. Network.
- If they say no - ask why. Why didn't I get the job? What could I have done differently?
- Don't give up. Having someone say no - doesn't mean it's the end of the world.
Work standards fall and so does the quality of the work that is being out put.
Try these simple starters to help get you started -
- Read all your emails first. Clear all the distractions.
- Sort your tasks by rank - urgent, important, not urgent, not important.
- Assign days to the tasks. That is a particular job can be done on Thursday rather than Tuesday thereby reducing the stress and pressure.
- Delegate quick and easy tasks, then complete as many small tasks as you can.
After making some easy wins - you will feel more energised and better able to take on the big tasks that lie before you!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
- What questions do you ask?
- How do you ask them?
- Do you provide context and a sense of urgency?
- If someone answers - will anything change?
"If you wish to converse with me, define your terms". Voltaire.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Here are a few interesting points of view of the managers interviewed from the published paper:
- it is better to grow your own employees than hire in,
- developing your own staff is a cheaper option than hiring in,
- staff retention and motivation increase when current employees are nurtured,
- it is a cheaper option to nurture your own employees.
Staff development is one of the key areas for businesses to become strong, maintain their position and to move on and grow.
Another finding was that internal candidates may not always be the best choice though.
My personal view is -
- When a middle management sized position becomes open - it is best to promote from within. Keep the knowledge and experience and move it up.
- When a specialised or senior management position opens up - it is better to recruit from external sources.
External persons bring fresh perspective, new energy and different motivations.
- Changing the essence (flavor, size, production method) of an age old product (Cadbury's).
- Modifying the original product in an attempt to 'update' an old product. (Marmite).
What were the results of the attempted changes?
- Customers were told through the media that the product had changed. Instant backlash. Customers felt they were being short changed and not listened to.
- The customers ignored the new product, thought of it as a gimmick - and still bought the old product anyway.
So what conclusions and lesson can we draw from these instances -
- If it isn't broken - don't fix it.
- Customers know a marketing scam when they see one.
- Humans are creatures of habit and will stick with something that works.
The Coca Cola company attempted to change the taste of Coke in the 1980's with disastrous results. But management listened - changed the recipe back to the original - and have continued to do well ever since.
Maybe Cadbury's and the makers of Marmite should have learnt from the same mistake made 24 years earlier.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Organisational structures have two basic frameworks - centralise or decentralise.
Centralise means services, choices, decision and strategy is dominated by those at the centre and their commands are carried out by the sectors.
Decentralisation means a lot of the decisions and operational choices are relinquished by the central powers, and the sectors choose how they want to carry out their duties.
In my current workplace I have seen the shift from one to the other (centralised to decentralised) and somewhat back again.
Interestingly those located in the center found it hard to relinquish the ability to make operational choices and stick to strategy.
At the same time the sub-sectors found the new power to make their own decisions hard to understand.
It has taken at least two years for the central point to be reached whereby - central decide the strategy, the sectors make operational decisions and everyone works together (somewhat to achieve the goals of the organisation.
There is no perfect organisational structure and tensions will always exist between the role of central services and how much power they should exude compared to how many decisions should the sectors be able to make?
Which do I prefer? Both and neither.
"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way". (John C Maxwell).
Leadership, vision and strategy need to come from the center that shows the way yet allows people the freedom to make decisions.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Dr Henry Cloud wrote a very interesting book called "Integrity: The courage to meet the demands of reality". The by-line is 'How six essential qualities determine your success in business'.I picked up this book two days ago and have been impressed with all that I have read so far.
There are three particular pitfalls the author outlines in his first chapter -
- Hitting a performance ceiling that is lower than one's aptitude
- Having an obstacle or situation that derails you
- Reaching great success only to self-destruct and lose it all.
Interestingly the author believes each of these can be solved through a persons growth in integrity. I agree - but it depends upon your definition of integrity.