Leadership Training Newsletter – Management Superstars

by ltconsulting on September 29, 2011

If you are on your way to becoming a new manager or would like to learn the fundamentals of how to become a better manager then this will be the ideal course for you. This course will focus on the essential requirements needed to execute managing for the first time if you are a newly qualified manager and will also allow you to gain knowledge of the skills needed for leading a new team effectively if you are a newly promoted manager.

Total Success is well renowned for our management training courses as we cater to all levels of management. We are able to design courses for specific needs, whether it be improving management skills or providing management refresher training.

Management Competencies

Research into the productivity of high-performance managers has found that they share these common characteristics:

When they make decisions, they make them with the end in mind. This comes from a clear vision of what their organisation is trying to achieve. Here management must play a critical role in creating a mission statement that crystallises the company’s key business goals. This should not be framed and hung on the wall like a piece of office art, but instead must be communicated over and over again through memos, newsletters, and meetings. This helps everyone to make decisions with the end in mind.

They create action plans designed to implement the company’s mission. Typically, star performers establish precisely what they intend to accomplish in specific time frames, such as one month, six months, a year. Although they remain focused on these time-sensitive objectives, they remain flexible enough to change their tactics if business conditions or the prevailing economic environment change.

Turning intentions into actions, effective managers muster the resources necessary to accomplish their action plans. First, they determine what they will need – raw materials, additional employees, creative input, capital, alliances inside and outside of the company. Then they act to assemble these resources in a way that makes the work process more efficient.

For example, a sales manager who is determined to speed shipments to customers may create an alliance with the warehouse manager, promising faster sales and re-order data in return for accelerated order processing. They recognise that influencing colleagues and motivating staff workers is integral to getting things done on time and to the correct specifications.

They are good at managing priorities to reflect the company’s objectives. Their thinking goes like this: “Here’s what I am going to do today. This task is a top priority not because it is the project I want most to clear from my desk, or because someone is pressing me to do it, but because it will draw the straightest line between my work and the company’s goals.”

They are skilled at balancing the quality/quantity equation that is inherent in all work. For example, a well-intentioned but relatively unproductive employee may take pride in saying, “I always do everything perfectly.” When management counters that the quest for perfection caused the company to miss the deadline for a key delivery, he returns to the same myopic theme: “Yes, but you have to admit my work was done beautifully.”

Recognising instinctively that this is unacceptable, the best performers strive to achieve the delicate balance between quality and quantity. This means doing the best work in the time frame and the quantities required to meet the customer’s expectations and the company’s strategic goals.

They take ownership of the projects and responsibilities assigned to them. Superior performers have a “can do” attitude. They rarely shun responsibility. Instead, they consider completion of a project to be a personal responsibility, and they work to influence others along the assembly line to help achieve stated goals (which, as we have noted, are always linked to the company’s objectives). Assume, for example, that your IT manager is asked to produce monthly reports tracking the company’s sales trends. Soon after the manager sets out to generate the data, he faces a roadblock: an administrator in the sales department is reluctant to release the necessary reports on a timely basis. Rather than pointing a finger at the administrator and taking a “don’t blame me” attitude, the IT manager goes through back channels to tap new sources of data, making certain that the reports are produced on time. Because he “owned” the project, he refused to let it be derailed. This resourcefulness and determination makes the super performer an unstoppable and powerful force for increased productivity.

The first steps in becoming a great leader, manager or supervisor is first we must decide what it is we are going to grow, make or process.

All work should begin with the end in mind.

What is it we want to have when all is said and done? This seems relatively obvious and straight forward when the work involved is farming or manufacturing. Where it often gets murky is when you are dealing with knowledge and service work. Most workers seem to lose sight of the long-term objective when they become overwhelmed with the short-term tasks they are performing.

Once the decisions have been made, the work must then get done. The field must be planted, the product made or the information processed. Once the work is done, it must be delivered. This may be to an external or an internal recipient. At that point, the work either meets the recipient’s needs – or it doesn’t.

Modern day work has the same basic anatomy of deciding, doing, delivering, but at each step there are more complex issues:

Deciding

Managers have a key role to play in the initial process of decision making and planning. They must be able to develop effective strategies, focusing on the end result and working their way back to the present day. This plan must form part of the team’s vision and be presented as the goals and objectives of the team and its individuals.

Quite simply, managers whose communication skills predominate in this part of the work process can be defined as ‘What Managers’. They may be great planners, strategists and tellers but may lack the interpersonal and motivational skills; and the process and operation skills needed to ensure delivery of the work or project.

Doing

Once a decision has been made, the process of completing the task is also more complicated. Modern day workers typically have to transform the work, not just value-add to it. An idea may be transformed into a memo; an agenda might result from an incoming fax. This is much more than just adding to an existing piece of work. When things break down, it is typically a process or series of processes, not the people, which are out of control.

‘How Managers’ understand the power of process and break down the operational plan into ‘realistic’ segments that the team can visualise and add their input. They instinctively realise that decisions must be made in relation to the prioritisation of work and keep a keen eye on ‘quality versus quantity’ issues. This is an important issue of leadership because the leader must be able to communicate complex or difficult issues and make them easy for team members to carry out.

Delivery

Not surprisingly, the delivery phase of work is as complex as the first two phases. It is no longer enough just to finish a report or a project and ‘pass it on’. All workers must take a performance role in the delivery phase. They typically have to take an active role in making sure that the work they have done makes an effective transfer to the appropriate recipient – the customer (whether internal or external).

Leaders need the motivational skills to influence team members towards task completion. ‘Why Managers’ concentrate their efforts on communicating individual, team and organisational benefits to the team. They are obsessive about individual ‘ownership’ and responsibility which are key elements of effective team building. They also ensure that effective review and evaluation occurs so that results can be constantly improved.

What drives all of this is the continuous learning processes of both the individual and the organisation.

Once we understand the anatomy of work, we can more clearly understand the processes which drive it. Research has identified eight distinct processes which underpin all work. Each of these processes is, in turn, driven by a cluster of core competencies. A ‘core competency’ is, by definition, the skill set or ability which is fundamental to the completion of a process. For example, the ability to hammer a nail through wood is a ‘core competency’ in the process of building a wood-frame house.

These are the same competencies leaders need to ensure task completion. Managers who incorporate the What, How and Why into their daily operations will empower their staff to function at their most effective.

Exercise:

Review the 8 management competencies and assess your performance against each one. Give yourself a score out of 10 for each and determine what actions you need to take to improve on each competency.

Competency My Score Action plan for improvement Time Scale
Setting goals and objectives
Thinking strategically
Communicating effectively
Managing time and priorities
Achieving quality
Taking ownership and responsibility
Motivating and influencing
Reviewing and evaluating
Achieving quality  

 

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