Helping others to achieve both the thinkable and the unthinkable in their careers or their lives is an important facet within the role of the manager. Having other people move up through the organisational ranks and start fulfilling their potential is a very rewarding experience.
What happened recently was I spotted a learning/professional development opportunity. As soon as I saw what was entailed and the relevancy of the content I instantly thought of a fellow employee whom I thought would enjoy the conference as well.
So there were a few key opportunities that I saw and pounced on that enabled my colleague to get the most out of the time we had while attending. Here are those times -
In the car. When you are travelling you have a captive audience. It's not like they can go anywhere. Before we left I thought of things to talk about such as career development and goals, as well as a number of commendations and recommendations. In the car - there isn't much time to think about anything else.
During the breaks - those we know. Others from our larger organisation were also in attendance yet the person I travelled with didn't register that he knew those people. So what I did was have an offline conversation and actually set the two on a path towards each other that was mutually beneficial. The outcome was that both sides have decided to co-operate more on specific projects and to continue the development long after the conference has finished.
During the breaks - those we don't. I am a people person. I have no problem with talking to others. So one thing I always attempt to do while at conferences is meet others whom I can commend and recommend to my work colleagues. I look for SME's (subject matter experts) and set them up with people I know who need help in those areas. So I effectively do is become like the Yellow Pages and provide links between people with a need and those who can provide a solution.
Every minute of the day gives us opportunities. What we do with each minute is our choice. We can choose to embrace the time we have or watch it sail by. I prefer to invest my time. Invest in myself and my development as well as the development for others.
Every so often employers give their employees the chance to attend conferences as professional development options. Now, not all conferences are created equal. Conferences are what you make of them. Some are brilliant while others can be pretty poor. It all comes down to you.
Keynote speakers. These are the people that conference organisers invite along to fill the role of superstar. Look for speakers that are proven and have a track record.
Network, network, network. Be bold and talk to people. Approach them before they approach you. Look for common ground and similar interests. Ask their opinion on matters. You never know who you might be sitting next to.
Plan ahead. Think in advance about what you want to get out of the conference. Write down some objectives and goals for learning. Then structure your time so that you achieve those goals and can take home something useful. Read the overviews and biographies of presenters, think of questions beforehand that you can ask. Just plan.
Conferences can be fun and exciting. Couple that with the chance to learn and implement new ideas - there you have the perfect professional development opportunity.
Being flexible in your skills and talents is a vital key towards being employable long term. I have heard it said that a person should complete an undergraduate degree in one specific area and then in post-graduate study work on skills and understandings that will make you flexible.
So why flexibility?
Flexibility keeps you supple. Being supple means that you can bend with the strains and stresses of life as well as at work.
Flexibility makes you strong. As your skills develop so does your strength. You become more able to withstand the rigours of life and business.
Flexibility gives you speed. Speed is the ability to adapt and change as quick as you can when you are required to.
Flexibility will stand you in good stead as far as your career is concerned. If you are supple, have speed and are strong then you will go well and go long.
Success does not come as a result of luck very often. Rather success is the culmination of hard work, dedication. perseverance and good luck. Good luck is the final 3% of the equation - not the other 97%.
There is nothing wrong with winning or being successful. In fact it is what each of us should aspire to reach. And should we be fortunate enough to reach those peaks we should also practice being humble in victory.
Some times the behaviors and words that you use as the manager/boss can be mirrored and magnified by those who report to you. Recognising these behaviors and managing them can lead to positive benefits if dealt with well or negatively if you allow the behaviors to continue. It pays to be careful with your words and watch what you say both in public and in private.
Here are some areas I recommend you watch out for and reflect on within your team-
What others say. What are team members saying? Are they being constructive or destructive? If you don't like what they are saying is it possible they are copying you?
What others do. Reflect on your team members behaviors. How do they cope with stress?
How others react. If a particular situation didn't work for a team member - what happened next? Did they go off and sulk? Did they kick the rubbish tin? Or do they give people the silent treatment?
Each of these types of behavior and reaction if left unchecked can create animosity amongst people and can possibly lead to a destructive working environment. So how do you try and fix these things?
Confront negative behaviors. If someone is annoyed or angry as a once off, the best strategy may be to let it go. If the person has an ongoing issue with their behavior then you, as a manager, need to confront that person and explain to them the effects that their behavior is having on the rest of the team.
Coach people to change. Put on your 'Dr Phil' hat and coach the person towards positive behaviors and methods for reaction. This is a less confrontational method for getting people to change. Coaching them requires that you - name the behavior, assess what causes it and develop methods for dealing with it in a more positive and constructive way in the future.
Model the behaviors you expect to see in others. You are the role model and the leader. Behave like one. If you lead others will follow.
Any book that manages to make a fourth edition is well worth reading. The book must have - readability, credibility and be practical. 'The Time Trap' by Alec Mackenzie fills all of those criteria.
Common sense and practical tips abound. There are a myriad of time management strategies for both new and old players. There are tips on project management, delegating and assignment assessment amongst others.
This is a no frills book that gets to the point and does not include language that is flowery or superfluous. (not like this sentence at all). I particularly enjoyed the no-nonsense approach to time management that is explained.
There are no silver bullets or magic formulas in this book. Rather the author lays out everyday tips and practices that can aid people in all manner of different industries.
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone I know. Easy to read, packed full of sound advice and common sense. This book would make for 'the perfect Christmas present'. =)
1. The degree to which an asset or security can be bought or sold in the market without affecting the asset's price. Liquidity is characterized by a high level of trading activity. Assets that can by easily bought or sold, are known as liquid assets.
2. The ability to convert an asset to cash quickly. Also known as "marketability".
When we start talking about the skills of the manager I like to define liquidity as being -
The ability to deal with a transforming and ever moving work landscape.
The ability to shift between tasks or responsibilities with the least amount of friction possible.
The ability to convert and apply skills and knowledge to a new role.
Viewing your work as a series of liquid tasks can help your mental state immensely. Rather than getting stuck and focusing too much on one particular task the key is to see that task as a part of the whole day and park that issue for a while. Then when you have more time or the opportunity float back to that task and assimilate it into your tasks for the day.
What do you do when you have an employee who isn't really cut out for the role they are employed in. How long do you put up with them? How much time and effort do you put in trying to salvage a bad hire?
I recommend applying the following checklist to the problem employee. Using this simple guide you can decide if a salvage operation is worth the effort or if you may be better off cutting ties and letting the person sail away into a =nother role that is better suited for them.
Can the person change? So they're being a pain in the butt. They aren't listening and carry on regardless. The question is - can they change? Is there a chance that with some coaching and help that the person can change?
If you think they can change then start working with them and enable them to change their view of the role and their place on the team. If not - let them go.
Will the person change? Does the person want to change and will the person change? How much time and resources do you sink into a person before you realise that it just isn't happening with that person.
If you think trhe person will change with the right motivating factors and environmental factors - excellent. If not - let them go.
When will the person change? Following on from the first two questions if you decide that the person a) can change, b) will change - it's time to start wondering about c) when the person might change. How vital is that change and what are the timelines you have to work with?
If you think the person can chnage their attitude and approach in a short amount of time and provide benefits and increase productivity - then great. If not - let them go.
This is where the old 80/20 rule comes into play. Is the employee an 80% employee or a 20% employee?Ask yourself honestly - how much time am I spending on this employee? Both directly and indirectly.
If a problem employee or problem team take up 80% of your time - then you may have to consider letting them go.
Here is an interesting point that I have been musing on lately - when you are the boss, what you do is amplified in the eyes and ears of your workers.
So how does a manager work knowing this? Knowing that everything you do is accentuated and overblown by all those under you every time you do something? This can be quite a daunting thought.
As always here are my thoughts on this topic -
Be courageous. Don't hold back - keep moving forwards. Let your employees challenge your thinking, your business model and the way you work. Then they will follow and begin to do the same..
Listen first, speak second. When you listen to others and act upon their ideas and initiatives - everybody wins. You feel good for having a success and they feel good because you listened to them and made progress.
Lead how you want others to follow. Followers and employees will copy and mirror back to you the behaviors that you engage in. What behaviors do you want from your employees? Start acting those behaviors yourself first.
Above all else remember the golden rule- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
Career planning is important. Having an idea of where you are heading, having goals to get there and a plan to match are vital to enabling you to achieve success. Lets look at the three areas -
Goal. This is the end point or the dream finish. I recommend that you view the following pages which provide some great ideas around goal setting and SMART goals.
Plan. This is the way/method you will use to head towards your goal destination. The plan could be to sign up for some classes or University study. It could be you would like a coach or a mentor. Planning will help you make steps forwards.
Timetable. The timetable adds to your goal some urgency and framework. By having a clearly labelled time you are more likely to get motivated to get up and get going.
Once you have a plan and get started moving towards your goal remember to - stay flexible! There is more than path up the mountain and things may not always turn out as you want them to. But keep moving forward and adjust the three factors - goals, plans and timetables - to suit your current environment and ability to achieve.
“Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.” Dag Hammarskjold .
“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” Spencer Johnson.
When one of the values that underpins and guides your team is honesty then that enables everyone to deal with the issues as they really are. If someones work is exemplary they should be told so. If someones work is crap then they need to be told that too.
Honesty as a value does not give free licence to pick on people or to be destructive. What it does do is allow everyone to say their piece, deal with the issue and move on.
I recommend the Toastmasters method of giving feedback -
Want to achieve greater efficiencies and improved workplace performance?
Give your staff the power to -
Dream about how it could be better,
Influence their work design, workspace or workflow and ultimately -
Own the workplace.
Make time to dream and allow your staff to both imagine and see the future.
Let them describe what the most effective workplace would look like.
Then ask them what they can do as a part of their existing role and with the resources they have to make that dream into a reality. If they need more resources - guess what? You just might have to buy them.
Note - this is not just a once off exercise. Like muscles creativity needs to be stretched and used in order for it to grow. By creating regular sessions to imagine then creativity will become second nature to the team. And then the results will ultimately flow.
Culture is defined by Gareth Morgan as being: "The set of the set of beliefs, values, and norms, together with symbols like dramatized events and personalities, that represents the unique character of an organization, and provides the context for action in it and by it."
The best way to consider team culture is to view it as being the core beliefs and binding behaviors that a group of people choose to confirm, affirm and act out. The worth of establishing team values is in the development of a team culture.
Here is what I am working on at the moment -
Creating a set of values.
Getting buy-in from the team.
Establishing a team culture.
Interestingly in my team we are attempting to complete this exercise after the team has already been in place for a few years. So we already have a team culture in practice and now I would like to capture and define that culture on paper to enable the team to be clear on who, what and why we exist. I considered in the past attempting such an exercise and getting the team to work on such a task but the timing and team understanding the purpose of such an exercise did not exist.
However with change occuring in the wider organisational culture, a new member added to the team, as well as the internal restructure of a department or two - the time now seeems appropriate.
So how is team culture established?
By what we do.
By what we say.
By how we do things.
Over time these three areas overlap and build on each other. Then persons both within and without of the team begin to see the way a team works together - and that is culture.
Your team should be the most important thing to you. Even if they annoy you and tick you off - they are still your team! Your team can be either the making or the breaking of your success as a manager. As a manager your performance is determined by the results and outcomes that you are able to motivate them to produce.
One hugely important aspect of this is - loyalty. You being loyal to your team and your team being loyal to you.
The easiest way to demonstate your loyalty to your team is by the way you treat your team and talk about them in public. Team members take to heart what they hear their bosses saying about then. So be very careful - what you say, when you say it and whom you say it to.
Knowing why your team exists and why the team exists is important. It is important because it creates a bond between the team members and it also provides both boundaries and a sense of grounding.
To give the team a sense of unity and working together it is a good idea to create some team values and a philosophy of approach. Team values provide both the methodology and the core purpose for acting.
Here are a few thoughts on team values -
Position. Values are not rules but a set of guidelines that help team members to understand what is required of them as both an individual and a team member.
Performance. Values help team members know what their performance assessment criteria are. Team members know the difference between individual performance and team performance.
Purpose. Values help to bond the team toward a single focus and reason for being. Team members understand why the team exists.
Management. Team values can empower the manager to lead and guide the team. The combined team sets the values and the manager guides and holds to account each team member to ensure they remain on track.
What you bring to the interview table as a manager is your potential and your value adding potential for your possible future employer. Here are a few tried and true ways that say "I have what you need" on your CV.
Affiliations and Memberships.
Which of these have you completed/proven/attended in the past 24 months?
Spotting the talent and potential in others is a great skill to develop and work on. Sometimes the person you notice with the potential hasn't yet spotted it themselves - so you identifying that talent can be a confidence booster for that person.
Here are a few strategies to employ/things to consider when thinking about someone with skills.
Promote slowly. Let the talent take their time and develop their skills in their own time. If the person is older chances they will have the maturity to handle such a move. However younger or people will less experience may be overwhelmed by the dizzying heights. Time will allow maturity and life lessons to sink in. Managers, like fine wine, need time to mature.
Provide mentors. Provide your talent with experienced managers who will provide training and a sounding board for your talent. No one person has all the answers and it is important that your talent be given the time and opportunity to interact with others giving your talent the chance to formulate a well rounded philosophy and style of management that is unique to them self.
Praise publicly. Managers are people too. Giving praise in public and backing up your managers no matter what (in public) will raise their self esteem as well as give them confidence. If they muck up - so what. Reflect, change and move on. I like what Bob Sutton wrote on this subject in his blog post about caring bosses.
Oh yeah - one more thing. Let your talent pick a fight or two. Like kids you need to allow them to learn to defend themselves when attacked and establish their own methodologies. That isn't to say you let them take a beating, but you don't wrap them in cotton wool every time there's something going down.
One way to examine choices is the PMI Method, invented by Edward de Bono. PMI is an acronym for Plus, Minus, Interesting. It takes the Scored Pro & Con a step further by forcing us to think about "what is interesting" about the choice.
• Plus are the pros. What's good about the idea.
• Minus are the cons, the bad points of the idea. And finally,
• Interesting. What is interesting? What are the possibilities?
This chart is especially handy when brainstorming and you have ideas that are not really a pro or a con. Rather, ideas interesting to think about. To calculate your PMI score add up your (Plus) + (Minus) + (Interesting) scores. Items in the "interesting" column can score as a plus or a minus depending on the implication of the thought.
In the example above, the plus score added up to +13, the minus -12, and the interesting column was +3. Added together this idea scores a +4.
While it is easy to think-up why we like or don't like something, we don't usually think about it from the perspective of what is interesting about the idea. Using PMI encourages exploration of possibilities that arise from thinking about it from three directions. It enlarges our view of the situation.