Monday, 10 June 2013

Manage your staff so they aim for excellence

I believe that Successful Management, which is the key to success in business, can be achieved by the following:

  1. Have clear aims.
  2. Ensure the aims are communicated openly to your staff – and make sure you listen to their responses.
  3. Monitor their progress.
  4. Give and receive feedback.
  5. Be honest in your dealings with all around you.
Step 1, Have Clear Aims, may not be easy at first.  Often I have found that the best approach is to involve all the staff in a group discussion where each person speaks about what they believe the aims should be (guided by the manager), with the agreed aims being defined at the end of the meeting. 

Using the business strategy as a guide helps here.

This leads to Step 2, Communicate the Aims Openly, which means making sure the staff know what you expect them to achieve.  But please ensure you listen to and address their responses.  I have worked with too many managers who think it is their role to speak to their staff without listening.  (If a member of staff says a target date is not going to be made, listen to their explanation why and then go home and think about it before responding.  Often they will know better than you what is really going on.)

Don’t be afraid of setting a challenge, but the key here is Step 3, Monitor Progress.  Depending on what it is you actually do, targets may need to be monitored daily, weekly or monthly.  Share the good and bad news – it is wonderful to discover the commitment staff have to achieving the impossible.

However Step 4 Give and Receive Feedback should be applied much more often.  Make sure you meet at least some of your staff every day.  Exchange a casual word with them.  (Don’t spend ten minutes discussing the cricket score).  Say “Everything ok?” or “How are things going?”.  At this point you don’t need to do other than listen.

Throughout all this apply Step 5.  Be honest.  Why be honest?  Well, the simplest reason is that if you are not honest you can guarantee that you will eventually be found out by your staff.  I've worked with managers who made a habit of telling different stories to different members of staff.  This simply created an atmosphere of mistrust.  If they believe you can be trusted then they themselves will act in a trustworthy manner.

For example, before claiming unjustified expenses or taking long lunches, ask yourself what would be reasonable for your staff.  How would you react if you found they were doing this?

If you pay one staff member more than another, you can guarantee that they will find out.  How will they react?  Are you being fair?

I have found that by following the above short set of steps, by engaging with your staff as adults, they begin to act differently.

They relish a challenge when they understand why it has been set, or have been involved in creating the aim.

If they can talk to you about how they are feeling then they don’t waste time complaining to other members of staff.  If you give them appropriate, honest, feedback then they will perform well in carrying out their job.

If you talk about Excellence, they will understand what you mean, and Excellent Performance will result.

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