Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Management Training - How to get the promotion you REALLY want!

by Mark Evenden at Developing People

You may have recently started out on your career journey and want your first promotion or you may be well on your way but would like a broader or more senior leadership role. Burt how do you go about getting the promotion you want, and what things should you consider? The following are a few hints and tips that I have picked up over the years that will hopefully help you on your way!

1. Look at the bigger picture. I believe it’s important to start by asking yourself what you want to achieve, not just at work but also outside, with your family, friends, where you want to live etc. The reason for this is will a promotion fit with your broader life goals? Taking on a more senior role will require some sacrifices (certainly in the short term), and you need to be clear whether or not the price is worth paying (and my own personal experience is sometimes it isn’t!).

2. Understand the role you want. Do you really know what it will be like in a more senior role? Are you prepared to take on additional responsibility, be more flexible, cope with the organisation’s politics, work the extra hours etc? My own experience is that the best way to find out is to ask. Find people who are already doing a similar role and ask them what they think and feel about the job. They will be able to help you think through whether or not the job is right for you.

3. Get a mentor. Mentors are invaluable. They understand how the organisation works and have a great network of contacts. I have had mentors in the past and they acted as my critical friend, commenting on things you I did well and identifying things that I could improve on. They also helped to introduce me to the right people, and open the right doors.

4. Tell people how good you are! I, like most find this uncomfortable and unnatural. However, senior managers and others within an organisation may not know you or your achievements. Therefore, make sure you have your name on a least one important success and let others know about it.

5. Work outside your comfort zone. Try to do things that you haven’t done before. Offer to work on a cross functional project, stand in for your boss, get involved in a presentation to the board. I have found that the things that built my confidence the most were those that were uncomfortable and even downright scary!

6. Keep learning. Attend management training programmes aimed at developing the skills you need. In addition, read books, attend seminars, and become a member of a professional body. In this way you will demonstrate to the organisation that you are committed to learning, development and continuous improvement.

7. Be a great resource. People get noticed when they take responsibility for issues and resolve them. Think about the problems that your organisations faces. Identify some solutions and present them with your recommended course of action to your boss.

8. If you really want that promotion ask for it! Your boss will not be a mind reader so unless you let them know what your hopes and aspirations are, they will not be able to help you.

9. Finally, have a contingency plan. Your organisation may not have the right opportunities in the short to medium term, or alternatively you may find yourself redundant as the result of a restructure or downsizing process. But don’t give up. Remember, there are many different ways of achieving your career goals, just as there are many different ways of travelling from town to the next. I have been made redundant twice, and have had to take a sideways step as well as a backwards step (in terms of salary) before, but ultimately I now have the job I always wanted.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Management Training – What to Focus on?

I have worked for many managers who think that they are good at what they do. From the ones who have “got it right” through to the ones that have “got it SO wrong”, they have all had high opinions of their skills! However, according to a poll conducted for Investors in People by YouGov, almost one in three employees would swap their manager if they could – with nearly one in four claiming they could do a better job themselves, given the chance!

However, that number is not surprising when you consider how few managers receive any kind of formal management training. If think you are a good manager, then check out the practices below to see how you measure up. You may need to incorporate some of the findings into your management style, or include them as part of a formal management training program to enable your own managers to learn.

• Communicate where the business is going.
If you want your staff to be committed to your organization, they need to know where they are going and why. People need to understand how their work contributes to the company's success. After all, having meaning and purpose in your work is highly motivating and rewarding. Interestingly the ability to communicate effectively was listed as the most important quality for a successful manager by respondents in the YouGov poll, yet nearly one in three said their manager was not good at communicating with them.

• Set clear expectations.
Be clear with your staff both in terms of ‘what’ needs to be achieved and ‘how’ it should be achieved. Setting clear goals and targets with staff can help them understand what needs to be done and keep them focused. However, it is also important to talk to them about ‘how’ they should go about achieving their goals. For example it is not acceptable to achieve a target at any cost. In the YouGov poll, honesty and integrity was ranked in the poll as the second most important quality amongst managers, but nearly a fifth of employees believed that their manager had, at some stage, claimed credit for their work.

• Delegate work.
Don’t over control your staff’s work. The more you control others work it will only encourage behavior that necessitates control. Most people want the freedom to complete a task in the way that they think is best, and this is backed up by the YouGov poll which also shows that the most popular types of manages are those who are prepared to delegate.

• Regularly review performance.
Employees need regular feedback about their performance to improve their skills and grow professionally. Make sure you regularly sit down with your staff (at least 6/7 times per year), to discuss with them what they do will and identify with them what they should do differently.

• Deal with problems immediately.
Stay in tune to your staff so you can be proactive and resolve situations before they escalate. If you notice a change in an employee's work habits, performance or behaviour, try to get to resolve the problem before it starts affecting the rest of your team.

• Recognize people’s efforts.
Everybody appreciates being recognized for a job well done. Monetary rewards aren't the only way to thank employees for a job well done. In fact the easiest way to recognize someone’s contribution is simply saying "thank you" — simple words but too often overlooked.

• Be a coach and mentor.
As a manager, one of the greatest things that you can give an employee is by sharing your knowledge and experience. Showing your employees first-hand how you deal a task, what works and what doesn’t is far more effective than just talking them through it.

• Be firm but fair.
The YouGov research also showed that the most popular types of manages are firm and also fair. For example, family emergencies other unplanned events will always arise, and its part of a managers role to show compassion by being flexible with work hours and time off so their staff can tend to important matters. Employees always appreciate a sympathetic boss, and as long as your work and business doesn’t suffer, make every effort to accommodate workers who have special needs.

In summary – you have to put in time an effort to be a manager. Too often during busy times when work is piling up, people forget to be a manager and concentrate on their own tasks. However, employees depend on their manager’s strength, guidance and support especially during tough times and this takes time, time to listen, time to discuss and time to coach.
How many of the above habits do you demonstrate? How many of them are incorporated in your Management Training programs? Think about what you need to do and take action now.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Do you want to improve your productivity? Take time off work!

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People

Are you working long hours? If you are then perhaps it is time to tell your boss that time off work is great for productivity, according to a paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology by Sonnentag and Fritz.

You might not feel that you need a university professor to tell you breaks are good for you personally, but the scientific data proves it. Taking leave really does recharge the batteries. You are happier and more energetic when you return to work after a good break.

Sabine Sonnentag, a professor of work and organisational psychology at the University of Konstanz in Germany, studied the performance of 221 workers before and after they took a holiday, as well as what they did on it. The results showed people were happier and less tired and found tasks easier to accomplish for at least two weeks after their return from holidays than before they took time off.

Interestingly Sabine found that the beneficial effects are maximised if people use the time to learn a new skill as well as switch off from work, and I would agree with their findings, as my own experience is in line with this research.

On our leadership development programmes, we encourage participants to take time out to think about their role and their business while they are away from their day to day pressures. The feedback is invariably positive with participants being clearer and more motivated about what they need to do, when they return to work.

Sonnentag and a colleague, Charlotte Fritz, found those who mastered a new skill or tackled a challenge felt more energetic two weeks after returning to work than before the holiday. They also found it was good to practice positive thinking on holidays.

Sonnentag found the positive effects of holidays faded quickly if people faced an extra workload on return. Those who brooded on work politics and dwelt on unfinished business were more likely to report feeling exhausted soon after their return than those who switched off in the holidays or reflected on the good things about work.

As a footnote, I think it is worth reflecting on a number of recent studies in the UK that indicate as many as 20% of Britain’s working population take less than their full holiday entitlements – so make sure you take yours!