Manager 2.0, second part: “Skills”

Estimated reading time: likely to be more than 5 minutes

This is the second part of the trilogy Management 2.0 in which we will address skills.  Skills that frankly, I believe can be learned around the world though the excellence in execution as with everything in life, will tie in more with our innate qualities and the extent to which we use them.

Be Organised

There is nothing more harmful than working with a disorganised person, especially if he or she is your boss.  At the beginning of my career I experienced a number of them but I suppose in time, I developed some sort of intuition to avoid them.  The ability to carry out many different tasks to high standard in a short space of time depends completely upon how we organise ourselves.

  1. Think about what we are going to do before doing it.  Evaluate time, tasks and the necessary resources.
  2. Try to develop just one task each time, jumping from task to task is a recipe for disaster, bad quality and wasted time for example; writing a document whilst having your e-mail open and mobile on.  Thus, we go back to Neutron Jack’s (Jack Welch) favourite concept;   working in compartmental blocks. .
  3. Your being well organised will have a positive impact on the work of your team and colleagues.

All of us can be organised if we have the discipline of making a note of things, clichés are of no use – creative people can also be organised, maybe not the best Project managers in the world but without a doubt, they can be organised.

Delegate wisely and with care

Realistically evaluate how long a task will take to complete when you delegate it to somebody, it looks simple it is a lot more important than it seems.

Allow me to explain something pretty awful happening in companies all the time and that illustrates the importance of delegating properly: “Driving a person crazy or to the point of depression at work is the easiest thing in the world to do if you are their boss. Simply assign a task when they have not yet finished (because it is impossible to have done so in that time), complain about how useless they are for not having finished the previous task, complain about them not having finished the second task and then assign a third… and continue the pattern.  That person will end up depressed, crazy and burnt out in a short space of time. Well, this happens every day, sometimes out of malice (pure mobbing) and also due to the inability of evaluating the task properly by the superior.

To delegate properly means:

  1. To Evaluate how long you would take with your knowledge and resources and add extra time if the person does not have the same knowledge and resources or if they have never done it before.
  2. To Show them to how to complete the task, monitor progress using guidance, this is called delegating with care, the opposite of throwing out tasks.

Have a sense of urgency

It is nothing more than to respond as quickly as possible to those tasks or problems that really need it. It is one of the least common skills and does not depend on age nor education, it is an attitude acquired very easily when a person has a positive predisposition.  The sense of urgency is learned and is passed on to others. I love organisations that have this incorporated into the ADN of their corporate culture.  Despite this, it is still complicated.  There may be resistance from leaders set in their ways and with poor communicative skills and on the whole, a lack of this skill is found in the more technical areas with little client contact.  …

A real case: (sadly one of many):  How can a manager responsible for a critical bug go home so peacefully dead on time leaving a client with their production line at a halt?

What is most valued by a company is not the absence of problems, but the speed and dedication with which they are resolved. One of the best people I have seen deal with clients, Michael Kessler said: “I prefer to have some technical problems with a client than none at all, that way the client can evaluate how we good we are when there are problems to resolve and we can gain their trust”.  To have a sense of urgency means:

To be willing to prioritise tasks to the maximum when they require immediate resolution, even if it means working all night.

  1. It is very important properly to identify what is urgent and what is not, there are managers who generate false crisis for whom everything is urgent whilst there are others for whom only the building being on fire would be an urgent matter.
  2. If common sense is applied it is easy.  Generally, urgent matters are: problems with clients, tasks related to the closing of client deals, critical deadlines and delays and clearly, the resolution of any conflicts.

For this point, I recommend the book: “A Sense of Urgency”.

Possess mental fortitude

The Manager 2.0 is an entrepreneur (internally or externally) and to be so, needs to respond positively to pressure. When I say entrepreneur I make reference to the wider meaning of the term, a departmental leader that has the courage to launch a new product into the market, a public sector employee who backs a new management system that presents advantages to citizens, a doctor investigating a new treatment that could save lives, a manager that offers to take on a complicated projectall of these are entrepreneurs and are who truly make the world go round.  Managers 2.0 should have the capacity to take on risks and challenges and they should be able to do so in a positive and peaceful manner.  I can guarantee you that this can be learned, if someone had said to me 20 years ago, that I would be an entrepreneur taking on all the risks and pressure I do now, I would have said “No way!”

How can we gain mental fortitude?

  1. Positive thinking is the best kept secret of leaders around the world.  I define myself as a pathological optimist:  “Not only do I see the glass half full; at the same time I’m thinking about how to fill the other half”.
  2. Realism, self confidence, persistence. It is very important to evaluate the milestones one wants to achieve and to have the faith in oneself to get there.  Goals should be realistic, it is impossible to run 40 miles without beginning training for running 10 miles.  If you are exhausted after running 3 miles the first day (as in my case), do not throw in the towel, continue with your plan temporarily adjusting the milestones, the will run the marathon in 18 months instead of 12.
  3. Stress control: Key for an entrepreneur, tension must be released and you must sleep well at night without the need for sleeping pills or herbs.  Everyone should find their own method: sports, yoga, reading or a combination of these is usually a good method as they all release endorphins.  Look for yours without resorting to chemicals.

To summarise

In the article today the key points to summarise are:

  1. Be organised, plan, estimate, control progress.
  2. Delegate knowledgably and with care, evaluating what you have delegated and guiding your delegates.
  3. Employ a sense of urgency; do not leave things for tomorrow if it is important they are done today.
  4. Have mental fortitude.  Find your way of facing challenges positively and peacefully.

If you do not have them all, do not worry, you can achieve them; draw up your plan to becoming a Manager 2.0.

Manager 2.0, part one: “People 2.0″

I have been in the management world for over 20 years, have been a student and a professor at business schools. I have literally swallowed hundreds of management, company management and self help books (if you come to visit Zyncro you will see the immense library). In the end I have come to the conclusion that somebody mentioned to me years ago; that with some luck, from each book, lesson or conference you will take away an idea that you can put into practice. The objective of the next three posts entitled ‘Manager 2.0′ is to transmit those practical ideas, many of them 2.0 and others a lot older but absolutely valid and applicable in the current digital environment.

We will structure the articles in three main groups: people, skills and tools. The three are linked and are inseparable but will be easier to understand if we separate them.

People 2.0

We work with people, NOT with Human resources. This is without a doubt the worst definition ever invented in the management world. Apart form the fact that it was created in the 50′s it also seems like it came from the worst and most slave-driving moments of the 18th century Industrial Revolution. Anyway, if you are lucky enough to be the Managing Director of a company 2.0, I suggest you change that department name at once! I was very pleasantly surprised when I met Didac Lee. He had named the department director the Talent Manager and I thought, “Greatl!”. Other excellent options for the department name People Management and Human Capital Management.

Try applying the previous paragraph to the day to day. People do not switch off their personal lives when they arrive at work, they continue to have personal problems, children who are ill, elderly parents, arguments with their partners… Do you know anything about the family lives of the people you work with? If you do not know much, I would start to from today onwards. They are not resources, they are people that work alongside you. Understanding their environment as well as how they feel will ensure that you all work in a much more pleasant and familiar environment. They will arrive at work knowing that it is also somewhere that welcomes them in and listens to them beyond just work. An example of this; modern organisations plan their weekly meetings from 9:30am onwards and always before 4:00pm, this way parents can drop their children off at school as well as collect them afterwards.

Integral training, a company’s training is one of the least 2.0-like disciplines that we can come across today and is key to improved performance. Coaching is now in fashion and I am not saying it is not a great help but we are still forgetting about the most basic and human issues. How many companies offer their employees free stress management courses or even yoga classes? Stress is the main cause of productivity problems in the current workplace, companies continue to believe that it is a medical issue for all employees but it is not. Let us think about training in a wider sense of the term, knowledge, skills and emotions… this last one is always left out.

Yes to coaching, no to it’s-all-good. One of the most harmful managers I have known is probably one of the nicest and charming people we could meet, I will call him John. Helping people progress means giving positive feedback and advise on ways to go about the improvements of weaknesses. Martin never gave any negative feedback to anybody, the bonuses he gave out were always 100% and his team was always the best. The world was such a marvellous place within his department that Martin even began to receive phone calls from fairyland! But the impact was devastating and cruel, the good employees became complacent with Martin and stopped being themselves whilst turning to mediocracy and becoming below average and the lazy cheaters that never used to work (all companies have at least one) literally did nothing at all, they would spend the whole day surfing the web or watching videos on Youtube. I do not believe in the it’s-all-good approach, we are not all born ‘good’ there will aways be people thinking up way in which to work less or find ways to slack off from their jobs. If you really want to be a manager 2.0 and help your team, congratulate them for the good work they do and let them know about the bad areas in a constructive manner helping them to improve whilst giving them ideas ans suggestions.

And last but not of least importance, share, share, share. managers 2.0 share information at all levels of the organisation. If everyone is informed, emergency situations can be identified and resolved earlier, clients receive a better and faster customer service, and time is not wasted by duplicating efforts and searching for information hidden somewhere within the company. All of this equals improved productivity. If information is power, imagine what a company would be like if all the employees were powerful!

To summarise…

In summary, remember this:

  • We work with people, with feelings and families. The better you know a person on the whole, the more you will achieve from them.
  • Training goes way beyond knowledge and skills. Does your team need stress relief? Is it too noisy in your office for them to be able to concentrate?
  • Feedback must be balanced, real and positive, oriented towards improvement and not criticism but without avoiding the weak points.
  • Sharing is the most powerful productivity tool in the world today. Do you share with your team? Does your team share?

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