Articles tagged "Develop Managers"
Are you frustrated with your managers, supervisors, or project managers?
- Do they blame others when budgets are blown and deadlines are missed?
- Do they point fingers when their teams are deadlocked over problems?
- Do they throw their hands up in frustration when their team's internal conflicts get in the way of servicing the customers?
If so, are you asking enough of your managers? Or let me put it this way: Are you being clear enough with your managers as to what you really expect of them?
A common problem many in leadership positions face is being able to clarify what they 'really' need their managers, supervisors, and project managers to do.
Often managers, supervisors, and project managers incorrectly believe their job is to do the specific, itemized tasks listed in their position descriptions or on their work orders or on other project lists. Yes, those tasks need to get done. But those are expected. Those are the basics. Those are the bare minimum requirements any manager, supervisor, or project manager is expected to be able to do -- and do well. That's what they're being paid to do.
However, what most new or less-than-effective managers, supervisors, and project managers don't realize, is what the leadership team really expects of them. And that's taking ownership of the problems, confusion, frustrations, and other issues their teams face that cause delays or roadblocks in their ability to get their work done. Taking ownership doesn't mean taking all of the blame personally. It means taking the individual responsibility and initiative to identify, address, and clear the roadblocks the team is facing, struggling with, over-analyzing, under-analyzing, over-emphasizing, exaggerating, or completely missing. Whatever the issue is that's creating a roadblock to the team's successful performance, it's the manager's responsibility to clear it.
So if it's an equipment problem, the manager needs to be available to help determine or approve the needed fixes. If it's an undefined problem, the manager needs to be available to help determine the root cause and determine the best solution. If it's a personality-clash between team members, the manager needs to address that issue as well. Whatever is creating a distraction or other problem for the team, it's the manager's job to deal with it, clear it, and allow the team to move on and to succeed.
So if you're frustrated with your managers, are you asking enough of them?
Do they know what you really expect of them? Do they know you expect them to take ownership of their team and its problems?
I had the opportunity to see one of my clients make the leap from being a manager to being a leader a few days ago.
I was preparing for our strategic planning session with his senior team, when my client – the company owner – walked into the conference room and said, "I finally understand what my job is. My job is to build a strong management team and to ensure this organization survives me."
That's it! He "gets it"! He finally understands – deep in his gut – what his job is. A manager ensures the products and services are being produced and provided properly to the customers and profitably for the company. A leader's job isn't simply to provide good-quality services or products and to make a profit – that's expected. As a leader, and in this case, as the owner of the company, my client also has a responsibility to his employees and to his customers, to ensure the company is as financially and as functionally strong as it can possibly be. He must ensure the company will survive the current leadership and will be able to continue to provide a livelihood for its employees and products to its customers in the future. That's what a leader needs to do.
However, an organization can only survive changes in management and leadership when the management team is strong and clear on their responsibilities in ensuring the organization moves forward. That clarity and strength comes from having systems and processes in place that allow the management team and employees to focus on their customers and their jobs. They can then focus their energies there instead of dealing with chaotic procedures, inefficiencies, duplication of efforts, miscommunication, and disarray.
A leader's job is to identify the people, resources, and systems needed to ensure survival. A manager's job is to implement and work the systems, use the resources, and train the people to provide the best products and services they can.
What's your job?
Recently a colleague asked me for advice to help him with one of his clients. My colleague's been working with this particular client for several years, but it's getting to a point of frustration where my colleague's ready to walk away. The manager -- or as my colleague now calls him -- The Teflon King, is incredibly skilled at deflecting responsibility and accountability. He's also amazingly skilled at bamboozling the board of directors by not bringing issues to their attention that would show mismanagement on his part, pushing work and decisions to the board that he and his staff should be addressing, and protecting his inadequately-trained and rude staff. Instead, he seems more comfortable in some type of peacekeeper role -- i.e., he prefers to help keep everyone and everything appear smooth and efficient, while all heck is breaking loose with the customers because of his mismanagement and his staff's poor customer relations and work.
The board is comprised of volunteers -- all interested and well-meaning -- but not professionally skilled or trained in this respective industry either. The manager and the board were all given their respective positions by the organization's owner -- who, has limited day-to-day interest in the organization's operations. He trusts the management team and the board.
My colleague has been working with the board and has developed a good working relationship with its members. However, he's had limited success in getting them to fully comprehend the ineffectiveness of the manager and its subsequent negative impact on customer relations and the long-term negative impact on their entire organization. My colleague is stuck. What should he do to help the board guide this organization towards greater effectiveness?
My suggestion to him was: Instead of making it sound personal -- i.e., you against the manager -- why don't you make your suggestions and recommendations to the board position-oriented?
Clarify with the board, what their role and responsibilities are and what the role and responsibilities of the manager and each of his key staff positions are.
For example, the board of directors' role is to direct - through policy discussion and vote - what direction the organization should take in the future. The board's task is to discuss and analyze the big-picture issues that will allow this organization to grow and thrive into the future -- or which may threaten it. The board -- which only meets once each month -- does not have the time to debate issues affecting daily operations and rather basic customer issues. The board should be holding the management team accountable to ensure the daily operations are conducted smoothly, effectively, and efficiently -- with care given to ensure the customers' concerns and needs are addressed. The manager, on the other hand, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization. Also, given the staff's daily interaction with customers, their services, and other vendors, the manager is responsible for bringing to the board specific suggestions for policy discussions, analysis of the ramifications of each suggestion presented, and recommendations for action -- based upon their experience with the daily operations and industry. Also, the manager is the point person to ensure his staff is properly trained, responsive, and effective in representing the organization to the customers and media. The manager and his team do the leg-work for the board; it shouldn't be the other way around. The manager works for the board. The directors direct, but only after the manager does his job.
If the board is taught to start focusing their time and efforts to more effectively fulfill their responsibilities, by default more legwork, information, and accountability will be pushed to the manager and his team. It will take time, but doing the job they've been asked to fulfill, the board will start to better understand the importance of also holding the manager and his staff accountable to effectively fulfill the jobs they've been hired to do.
However, when directors direct and managers do, incredible things happen in organizations. It just requires work, focus, and a willingness to be responsible and accountable.
A senior manager recently asked what the difference was between a manager and a leader. I told her:
"A manager is responsible for taking care of the here and now. A manager ensures the resources are used efficiently, and plans for maximum utilization of staff, equipment, materials, and capital. A manager knows how to multi-task and deal with ever-shifting priorities.
A leader focuses on "What's coming next and how to take advantage of it?"
Given that definition, she said, "I'm definitely not a leader. I don't have time to think about what's next. I'm overwhelmed trying to keep the here and now under control. How do I find the time to lead?"
For most people, you can't lead until you've taught others how to manage. Until you free up time and your mental capacity to focus on "What's next?" it's terribly difficult to become an effective leader. Many people try to do both and end up being stressed out managers with limited effectiveness planning for the future. They weaken themselves in both arenas.
So, how can this senior manager become a leader?
She needs to start holding her managers accountable to do the tough things good managers do: have Necessary Conversations™ with staff who are not performing well, deal with the unhappy customers to resolve company-created problems, make difficult and risky decisions concerning resources, and track their departmental goals with their staffs to ensure the entire organization continues to move towards its vision. Until her managers are held accountable to do their jobs and manage effectively, this senior manager won't be able to free herself up enough to lead effectively. Until she's ready to be a solid manager herself (and have those difficult conversations with her own staff), she won't be positioned to move to the next phase of professional growth and become a leader.
If you're faced with the same dilemma as this senior manager and don't have time to plan for the future, ask yourself, "What do I spend most of my time doing now?"
If you spend the bulk of your time doing the work your managers or supervisors should be doing, you may need to start holding yourself and others accountable.
Copyright MMVII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.
You've cut prices, you've refined your target customer base, you've increased your advertising and still --- business is so slow it's dangerous. The economy is not good, but other companies seem to be selling similar products and services. How are they able to survive (and yes, thrive) while your sales are tanking? They've focused on growing their businesses through their employees, instead of through their customers alone.
Successful companies have realized that if they better educate, train, and communicate with their employees on 'the business', their organization's bottom line will likely improve. Why? Better informed and better trained employees are able to generate sales. They're able to identify ways to improve processes, and to discover ways to reduce costs. Regardless of title or position, everyone in the organization can now contribute to growing 'the business'.
Every employee, at every level of your organization is a potential sales person. Every employee is a potential manager and leader. Every employee is a potential process engineer. But your employees can't reach their potential, until they've been given information, training, and guidance to make that potential a reality.
Who better to learn the entire production process than the people on the line? Why not teach them how enhancements to their process can positively impact the rest of the line?
Who better to learn project management than the people who have been gathering the data for the project? Why not teach them how to marry the data with real- world applications?
Who better to study the deep demographics of your customers than your front-line tellers? Why not teach them how to quickly identify customer segments and then use the appropriate cross-selling techniques?
At a bare minimum, if your employees wear company shirts, jackets, or uniforms, recognize that they are your passive sales team. They're walking billboards for your organization. Therefore, it's critical these employees understand 'the business' and can explain it to others.
I recently suggested to one of my clients that he and his senior staff wear their company shirts to any Rotary, Chamber, Lions, business or community function. The owner thought the idea was rather weak. However, that night he wore his company shirt to an after-work community fund-raiser. The woman he sat next to commented on his shirt. My client explained what his company provided, and walked away with her card. The next day, he followed up with her -- and received a large purchase order. My client has since scheduled more training for all of his employees, he now includes product and services briefings in his regular production meetings, and -- he's ordered more shirts!
Don't limit your growth by focusing exclusively on your customers. Leverage your business through your employees. 'Grow' your employees, and they'll grow your business.
Copyright MMIII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.