Friday, 24 April 2009

How to make your first management job a success

It has been suggested that as many as 4 out of 10 newly promoted managers fail in their jobs in the first 18 months, so make sure that you are one of the 6/10 successful ones by following our few simple tips:

1) Brush up on your interpersonal skills – The ability to build relationships and to get along with others is vital in a management role. Having poor interpersonal skills will most certainly lead to failure. Key to this is having excellent listening skills and the ability to give and take criticism well. Try not to be defensive and don’t view conflict as something bad and should be avoided at all costs. Instead view conflict as something inevitable that needs to be handled.

2) Recognise the need to adapt – You have been very successful in your career to date. However, the skills that made you successful may not be the ones that will lead you to even greater success as a manager. For example, as an employee you may have been known for your outspokenness, having strong opinions, and being a tough negotiator. While these are still important, always saying what you really think to your team will simply alienate them. It is important to recognise that being rigid and inflexible in your approach is ultimately a self-defeating style.

3) Avoid being self centred – This is the "me only" syndrome. Self-centred managers have an overriding concern for being in the spotlight. They worry about how much credit they're getting, how much money they're making, and how fast they're moving up the ladder. They alienate others by constantly demanding recognition and they seem incapable of any selfless acts towards others. Just as a successful business must pay attention to its customers, a successful manager must use team-oriented approaches and pay attention to the needs of their staff.

4) Take action - Managers who hesitate to put themselves on the line and act will eventually jeopardise their careers. Such a manager over-analyses every situation, fails to take action and is primarily motivated by avoiding risk.

5) Be resilient - Managers succeed by making decisions, taking risks and at times failing. It is absolutely critical to be able to bounce back after a failure. Managers who become defensive or try to blame others, don’t rebound, fail to learn from their mistakes and ultimately fail themselves.

6) Understand what is expected of you – Make sure you understand from your boss what is expected from you in your first year. Be clear about how your performance will be measured and find out your bosses preferred way of getting progress reports and feedback.

7) Ask for support – Make sure you get the appropriate management training support to develop the skills to enable you to succeed. This shouldn’t be a ‘one off’ one-day or even a one week training programme. Appropriate support means ongoing, intermittent management training with feedback and mentoring that gives you a means to learn, practice, and improve abilities as you progress.

Following these few simple steps will help you to make the change from team member to manager successfully and avoid becoming one of the 4/10 statistics.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Planning for the future

An organisations strategic vision defines what the organisation wants to be and where it wants to go. An effective strategy guides the decisions made that affect the direction of the organisation.

In order to deliver the strategy it is necessary for managers to incorporate the vision into their plans and day to day operations.

Often the best strategic plans fail either because managers do not develop concrete action plans for delivering the plan, or because they are too bogged down in day to day details and lose site of the big picture or lack management training.

To develop more effective strategic plans managers should:
• Check to ensure their own teams targets are congruent with the organisations.
• Rank targets to identify the top 2 or 3 that will have the greatest impact in delivering the strategic plan.
• Define their goals clearly and the roles of their staff in achieving them. Who is going to deliver what?
• Determine key results areas and identify the steps required to achieve these results.
• Develop measures to track progress to enable managers to know when they have reached their targets.
• Document their plans in a clear format that can be seen by the whole team.

However, what should a manager do if the organisations strategy is unclear or doesn’t exist? The answer is simple - prepare their own mini strategic plan for their team/function.

For example managers should:
• Be clear with their team what the purpose of the team/function is.
• Develop a number of targets/goals that will improve the performance of the team over the following 12 months.
• Create a plan to deliver the targets/goals set out above.

At the end of the day a significant part of a managers role is to plan for the future and more than ever it is time for managers to lead from the front.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Why it’s important to invest in new managers?

Depending on who you listen to, as many as 4 out of 10 newly promoted managers fail in their jobs in the first 18 months, which is an appalling statistic, but why is this so?

People are promoted for what they know. But the mistake that is commonly made is that the best person in the team, (be that a salesperson, engineer, customer service rep etc) gets promoted to the role of manager. In one single move the organisation deprives itself of one of its best ‘producers’ and lowers the productivity of the team because suddenly they are led by an ineffective manager. The problem may be compounded as the individual concerned may regret having taken a management position in the first place and may decide to leave the organisation, leaving behind them a team of demoralised employees and a department in chaos

This happens because of the ‘halo’ effect. The organisation becomes blinkered - their highly performing employee can do no wrong and they forget to ask some basic questions before placing them in the role of a supervisor or manager. For example, it is key to ask (and answer!) he following:

1) Is the person capable of fulfilling a managerial position?

2) Are we as an organisation willing to do what it takes to equip that person
for the job?

If you answer "no" to either of those questions, you're asking for trouble.

The first question can be answered using an appropriate assessment and selection process. The potential manager can be ‘put through their paces’ using various techniques to determine if they have the innate capability and motivation to succeed as a manager.

However, just because someone has the potential doesn’t mean that they will succeed unless they are given the right support to learn the skills necessary to be an effective manager.

People placed in management roles must become: delegators, motivators, trainers, mediators, planners, listeners, organisers, problem-solvers, example-setters, budgeters, ambassadors, regulators, counselors, and more, all while remaining diligent workers.
With little-to-no training for these responsibilities, it's next to impossible for new managers to succeed.

Therefore it is vital to put ongoing management training into place. This doesn’t mean a one-day class, nor for that matter, a one week programme. It means ongoing, intermittent management training courses with feedback and coaching that gives the newly appointed manager a way to learn, practice, and improve their efficiency and effectiveness as they progress.

But what about the cost? Some argue that if they pay for someone to become a better manager and then that person will simply leave. But ask yourself a different question - "what's the cost of not investing in them - and having them stay?"

Friday, 3 April 2009

Management Training Can Add Value to Employees and Your Business

Survey after survey show that employees don’t’ want just good pay, they want to be developed, valued and work for an organisation that makes a positive contribution to their communities.

For example, earlier this year the Sunday Times published its results for the 100 Best Companies to Work For. It demonstrated that the best businesses value their employees, and as a consequence have low staff turnover. Their employees want to work for them and stay with them, a highly prized commodity in today’s tight labour market.

The survey revealed the best performing businesses had high levels of engagement with their staff. Clearly good employers value feedback and consult regularly with their employees over issues that might affect them.

But who does the consulting, the listening, the valuing? It is not the “business” but the leaders and managers within it. They demonstrate through their behaviour the importance of these things.

But how do we ensure that our managers and leaders are equipped with the skills to make them successful? The answer is straight forward enough:

By recruiting those people who want to take on the responsibility for leading and managing others and by giving them the necessary Management Training and support to enable them to succeed.

In this way a Management Training programme can add real value to the business. However, Management Training should not be about sitting in a classroom! A Management Training programme that truly seeks to develop it’s managers and leaders should encompass a wide range of learning actions to help the participants develop the necessary management and leadership behaviours that will make the business successful.

For example, the programme could contain project work, community work, starting a business, personal coaching as well as personal learning actions and research. The programme should also practical and relevant to the business and the participants on it. There is no point including theory or topics that cannot be used!

At the end of the day the most successful businesses are ones where there is a real sense of shared ownership for the success of the business and this stems from the leader’s and manager’s ability to engage with their staff, which they can learn from the right type of Management Training.