How to stop managers ruining talent!

Case Study for people management: encourage talent, don’t strangle it

(the lessons in this post are evermore relevant to organisations in the current recruitment for talent – consider people you currently employ for your vacancies)

I met up with Jeff at an industry seminar.  After the usual pleasantries, I asked him how his job was going.  A cloud passed across his brow. “Not so great at the moment”, he said, “I’ve got a new director and I’m really not enjoying work any more.  I’m considering my options”.

My friend looked very glum at this point and we went for a coffee where he spilled out his heartache.

Now, I’ve known Jeff for a good few years.  He had an enviable reputation  for being highly skilled in his field, loyal, widely experienced.  I knew that he was not someone who is easily upset.  So I was concerned to hear his story and I will share it with you as a cautionary tale.

(I wish could say that this was an unusual situation but, sadly, I am coming across it frequently in different guises when I coach managers).

Jeff’s story

You would probably describe Jeff as being in the middle of his career.  Technically hot and well qualified, he had spent some years as an independent business consultant. That was before he got his ideal job in a senior position with a small manufacturing company. They produced expensive luxury goods and Jeff worked hard, expecting a bright future.

He ran a small department successfully for a number of years and was looking forward to gaining a position on the board.  However, the global recession went into full swing at that time and the company went into liquidation. So, my friend and his colleagues suffered redundancy and needed new jobs.

Jeff worked in several temporary jobs until he landed a job at his current company.  Whilst he knew that it wasn’t at the level of his previous permanent role, he saw it as an opportunity to join a company that was growing and securing world-wide contracts.

The CEO decided that he would strengthen the board and brought in an external person to head up Operations. This  included Jeff’s growing department.  Deciding not to advertise the position, the CEO engaged local head-hunters.  They eagerly introduced the CV of an external candidate  who showed extensive board level experience in international companies.  On paper it looked that she would excel at handling the new international growth.  Jeff had little international experience, however, he hoped to learn this from his new boss, whilst continuing to grow and nurture his UK operation.

Trouble ahead

Reality kicked in within a couple of months as Jeff found himself under more and more pressure.  He was no longer included in strategic meetings where he had previously contributed ideas. Neither was he instrumental in planning.  Instead, he received instructions from his new boss as a series of random tasks.

Constantly micro-managed, he had to undertake re-work frequently because his boss changed emphasis erratically. These tasks were often given to him late in the day being described as “urgent, urgent, urgent”.  He seldom saw his boss at other times.

Increasingly,  the new boss took over major areas of Jeff’s UK operations as part of “stream-lining”.  Frequently, his attempts to offer suggestions and request for involvement in project work were turned down.  He endured comments from his manager that his suggestions were “Not really in your pay grade”  or “haven’t got time to discuss it right now”. Insult was added to injury when his boss took over a project that he had painstakingly progressed.  He found out later that she had presented the results as being her own, with “a little help from her team”.

Not surprisingly, Jeff was feeling stressed. He had lost his confidence and felt not a little insulted by the lack of respect for his capability.  However, he acknowledged that his boss might still be finding her feet.  Perhaps she was uncertain about whom she could trust?  He admitted that he didn’t have the expertise to handle the international work.  However, his requests for training and development in that area had fallen on deaf ears.

What to do?

I asked him what outcome he wanted and what he planned to do?

He said that he would leave “tomorrow” if he could, but the salary and benefits package was very good.  He worried about “having to start again” in a new company.  Clearly, he was still haunted by his previous experience of unemployment and anxious about being able to provide for his family.

We talked some more and looked at the choices that he had.  By the end of our meeting, he felt strong enough to look at his situation face on and start making decisions.  We agreed to meet for some more sessions.  He wanted to review his CV, discover his true career aspirations and not least his perceived barriers and opportunities. Additionally, he wanted to look at ways of boosting his confidence levels.

He decided that he would make an appointment with his new manager to share his feelings and see if there was any route to salvaging his career with his current employer.  He would also talk to some recruitment agencies to gauge the marketplace for his skillset.  I suspected though that the damage was done and he had lost faith in the CEO and his new manager and would walk out the door as soon as it was feasible.

What lessons are there in this true cautionary tale?

First let’s look at the new manager’s situation.  Why had she “strangled the talent” in one of her team? Was she even aware of the effect that she had?  Was she a “good fit” for the company culture? See if you agree with my list below.

Had the CEO done sufficient homework into her background? Had he really thought about developing the talent that already existed in the firm and considered succession planning?  Was this an isolated case or were there other people about to jump ship, taking their experience and special company knowledge with them?  As the company grew, had the CEO thought about the impact on his workforce? We’ll explore the CEO’s actions under another case study as I want to discuss the actions and attitudes of Jeff’s new manager.

You may already be familiar with this quote (and it’s painfully true):

“People leave managers, not companies”

― Marcus BuckinghamFirst, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (available on Amazon as Kindle, Hardback, Paperback and Audio)  http://amzn.to/2fC35Dw

I’ve listed 13 pain-points this new boss could improve:

  1. Understand the capability of your team (respect)
  2. Allow skilled people to do their job without interference (trust)
  3. Understand current departmental and company culture
  4. Plan and properly delegate tasks/projects
  5. Share as much information with your team as possible (inclusion)
  6. Involve your team in decision-making
  7. Welcome suggestions and consider implementation
  8. Adopt a collegiate style with team; understand the human dimension
  9. Publicly acknowledge work done by your team; never take the credit for other people’s work (integrity issue)
  10. Discuss and plan for career aspirations
  11. Develop people for current and future work demands
  12. Be visible and approachable
  13. Be humble enough to ask for help from your team

Do you have any other solutions?

I hope that you found this interesting and I would love to hear your comments.

Have you experienced a similar situation?  What solutions do you suggest?

© Christine de Caux 2021      All rights reserved

Leader Juggler

Did you realise that as a leader you will become a juggler?

Leadership and Management models exist to help us to make sense of what is going on. The trouble starts when we try to match our everyday experience with the “ideal” of a model. And your real learning starts as you find that no two situations are the same and you are responsible for many tasks and groups of people.

So, what Leadership model could help? John Adair’s model of Action Centred Leadership is still valid today. A well loved favourite to help the leader, it explains what is happening and how to act. The original crisp three-sphere diagram will help you to start. Then multiple tasks turn you into a juggler as you try to keep all the balls in the air. And, of course, these are becoming heavier and of different sizes!

Life as a leader is indeed complex

Your overriding concern, however, is to translate your organisation’s strategy and direction into action and generate performance through people.

Of course you aren’t alone in this. There will be other people with responsibilities in specialist areas and some of what they do with overlap with you. Indeed it is quite likely that the people in your team/s will have a stake in other teams. Ah, another ball to juggle, this one is about compromise, negotiation as you become part of the executive team.

But let’s get back to Adair’s interconnecting spheres

This model is a good place to start and will serve you well. Of course the diagram is short hand for more detailed explanation and I would recommend that you spend some time getting to grips with Adair’s reasoning.

Leadership Model
Adair three centred leadership model

Adair bases the Leader’s role as balancing the needs of the three elements: Task, Individual and Team. These overlap but concentrating on one aspect will mean having to play catch-up with the others. Life isn’t always neat.

Once you are fully clear on the task, you will then supply its needs. So create your plan, identify and arrange sufficient resources, (human and material). Defining its quality and standards you will include a risk assessment, assess financial needs and identify the skills needed to carry it out.

Where the spheres overlap, the elements work together from a leader’s point of view. As leader in the centre, you will inspire and manage each sector’s needs to achieve your results.

New Leader, New Team

If you don’t already have a team, you will be selecting people with the right attributes. However, it is quite likely that you will be working with people who are already available to you, perhaps an established departmental team. In either case, you will need to assess ability and skills and continually develop them.

Don’t underestimate the level of emotional development that you will encourage. You will be using your own influential skills to motivate individuals and bring them together to form your team. This people relationship has emotional roots as you inspire, coach and support each person and build synergy in the team.

Ensuring effective communication at all levels. includes the personal goals of your individuals in your evaluation of the task. You will all have gained valuable experience, especially you as a leader. Assess what went well, what would you do differently next time?  You should recognise both individual contribution and team work of a job well done. When you reward individuals, ensure against being divisive.

You will gain a working knowledge of people’s skills and behaviours, and skills. This gives you a head-start for future projects, ready to catch the next ball that is thrown at you.

Suggested reading

A prolific business writer, Adair has produced many helpful books. If you are a new leader, try this one:



(please note that I only recommend items that I have confidence in. If you choose to use this link to make your purchase, I may receive a small commission from the vendor. However, this does not incur any extra expense for you)

Workplace disciplinary investigation – get it right!

Here’s the scene.  You are faced with an employee issue that looks like misconduct and you must conduct a formal investigation.  [Note: make sure that you act within the law and refer to local conditions/regulations]

You are fully aware that your investigation must be thorough, fair and unbiased.  Use this outlined method, so that you don’t miss anything.

Event arises: an employee allegedly acts contrary to your company policies and procedures.

Gather evidence confidentially– you don’t want information surrounding the issue to be altered or even destroyed. You also need to protect the people involved, including the person who is subject of the allegations.

You need to establish circumstances and establish  time and date/s

  • exactly what happened
  • who else has allegedly committed the issue
  • who witnessed the issue
  • any potential mitigation
  • any control limitations that should have been in place.

Speak to the person at the centre of the issue.  Warn them that it could be viewed as misconduct which may result in disciplinary action.

Speak to the person raising the issue to sort out facts from conjecture.

Identify and talk to everyone involved on an individual basis.  However, be discrete and require them to keep it strictly confidential.

Gather witness statements. Do  you need to talk to more people or collect more data?

Gather any written or physical evidence.  (It might be computer records, copies of emails, attendance records, CCTV etc.).

Refer to any previous similar incidents

Has this individual been involved in an issue before?  Are there any patterns of behaviour?

Remain open minded.  However, keep your investigation only to the specific allegation.  Do not get side-tracked.

Review the evidence gathered during your investigation and identify patterns, corroborating evidence, particular circumstances:

  • Who?  Was it just one individual?  Have they been influenced by others?
  • What? Exactly what is the issue, what effect has it had upon other people or the company?  Is the issue potentially illegal, non-compliance, poor behaviour?  Has this broken your company policy?
  • Why has this happened (e.g. lax management, horseplay, criminal intent or what?)
  • When? Is it an isolated case or part of a series? How far back does it go?  Is there a sub-culture that “normalised” the situation?
  • How?  What controls are missing? Find out the circumstances and managerial attitudes. (may lead to mitigation).
  • Present your notes and other documentation in an unbiased and straight forward manner.  Both the disciplinary officer/s and the accused employee will use these notes.

Consider if any evidence could be malicious or vexatious? Watch out for exaggeration and over-dramatisation by witnesses. But could they be holding something back? (If so, find out why).

Decide on your action.  Is there a case to answer?

  • If no, contact the employee concerned.  Thank them for their cooperation but the issue will be closed without further action.
  • If yes, start your formal proceedings according to your disciplinary policy.  Do this swiftly whilst memories are fresh.

You should only be investigator or witness, or disciplinary chair: you cannot do all these roles for the same issue.  Different people should perform these roles to demonstrate fairness and keep bias to a minimum.  However, you can get help from an independent consultant or trade body if you do not have anyone suitable in your organisation.

Should you involve external authorities, such as the police, immigration control or tax authorities?  Yes, if you uncover something that is potentially illegal then you must do so, otherwise you may be seen as abetting a crime.  Of course, you will still keep this confidential. The authorities will conduct their own investigation and procedures.  Depending on circumstances, you may need to suspend your company proceedings to enable the external authority to act.  Get professional advice from your company legal counsel in such event.

Final Note: fortunately serious misconduct is rare, but even for minor misdemeanour it is worth following a process.  This will ensure that you do not miss anything. Keep matters confidential and demonstrate impartiality.

 


Blog post disclaimer.

The information contained in this and other blog posts is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the blog post, website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

 

Manager’s Top Tips to Delegate Effectively

Do you frequently find that you have more work to do than fits into the time available?  Are you spending more time at work or taking work home and the burden of your managerial responsibility weighs heavy?  Moreover, you often compromise family time with work overspill.  An easy pit to fall into: now it is time to climb out of it.  It is time to delegate!

Do you find yourself saying “It’ll take more time to explain, I may as well do it myself”?  Or “This project is so important, I need to be on top of it”.  These are traps formed by the belief that you and only you are capable of completing tasks.  Not true.  Sure you will need to steer the ship, but you don’t need to be in the boiler room!

As a matter of fact, one of the themes that I constantly repeat to my clients (and echo in my blog) is that

a manager’s job is to effect work through people.

Now this isn’t a work-dump scheme.  You will still co-ordinate business strategy and direction.  The difference is that you will have a much better overview enabling better decision-making.  You will develop your team, build greater capacity and resilience.  Crucially, you can reach the holy grail of planned action and optimal performance with minimal stress.

Start thinking: how can you delegate well!

Sound too good to be true?  No, it is achievable.  Just take a step back and:

  • adopt and strengthen your mindset that others are capable of doing work to the standards that you need
  • consider what should or should not be delegated
  • split out tasks according to employee capability. You will need to train up some employees and coach them but once done they will be invaluable to you.
  • encourage your team to work collaboratively to share skills and experience
  • always delegate routine work (e.g. standard reports, filing)
  • empower your team to take responsibility for areas such as scheduling, making minor decisions and answering routine questions. Empowerment is a great tool: not only does it get the job done, it is a strong motivator and gets people more involved in the business.

The Grand Delegation Plan

  • What: define the task outlining the required outcome and your expectations

Of course, you will need to retain personal control over areas such as emergency or confidential tasks, hiring people and employee relations.  Additionally, there will be some tasks where your particular qualification level is mandatory.

  • Who: decide who is dependable with the right skills and attitude and

has the right skills already

needs training and in what areas

needs detailed explanation and more supervision

can work autonomously and reliably produce the right results on time.  Can you pair up people to strengthen skills and approach?

  • Why: delegate properly explain to your employee/s what you want done and why you have chosen them for the job.

Importantly check their understanding

Listen carefully to their reactions, answer questions honestly.  Equally, ask for their commitment

If possible, let them decide how they will plan out and execute the work to enable them to have ownership of it

  • How: outline their main sphere of responsibility and authority; where your employee can get resources and help

Importantly,  let others know that your employee is doing this task on your behalf and acts with your authority.  This will swerve misunderstanding in other parts of the company

Ensure that s/he is not overwhelmed by the addition of this task by reallocating some of their regular tasks whilst undertaking your assignment

Encourage your employee by expressing your confidence in them and ensure that you are available to mentor and give back up.  Establish regular milestones and monitor progress as well.

Always, recognise and thank your employee when they have successfully completed your assignment

And finally…

Remember you have handed this task over to someone else.  Monitoring their progress does not mean micro-managing!!  Avoid being overly prescriptive about how they should do the task.  Use your coaching skills to help people to solve problems for themselvesBut you are not abandoning them; ask open ended questions to help them reach solutions.

Ensure that delegation isn’t seen as “dumping” work.  Communicate your aims and the benefits of the project to the employee.  Explain its importance and the development they will gain.  Be sure to give due credit to your employee for the success of the project.  Never assume the kudos for yourself.

Delegate well and you will start to get volunteers for the next project!

For further reading I recommend:


*This post from Fantastic-Managers site may contain certain affiliate links for which I receive a small commission. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are mine and not influenced by the developing company. Please see Disclosure Statement on website.

Who wants to be a bad Boss?

Comparison list for best manager behaviours: the good boss

Do you have fond memories about a particularly good boss you knew in the past?  Or perhaps you dread the thought of being like that awful boss that you once had.  I bet you couldn’t wait to leave them behind.

Guess what:

being a bad boss is a barrier to productivity!

So, here are four major types of bad boss that you will not want to emulate:

  1. Micro-manager– nit picking, in your face.
  2. Tyrant – loud, bullying.
  3. Overly laissez-faire – offers no guidance and leaves people to sink or swim.
  4. me, Me, ME – grabs employees’ work and ideas by taking full credit for themselves.

Of course, none of these could be you surely?

Well, I am willing to bet that you want to be a great boss, able to succeed through your team.

Inspiring tips to succeed as a manager

Accordingly, when you are a good boss, you enthuse your employees.  Furthermore you will encourage volunteers to take on projects.  Try these great but simple tips to guide your employees to achieve excellent performance.

  • NOTICE, APPRECIATE and RESPOND to your employees.
  • Treat all FAIRLY and with RESPECT.
  • Be FLEXIBLE to meet changing needs of the business and team.
  • Understand your own VALUES and live up to them CONSISTENTLY.
  • Take RESPONSIBILITY for your team and yourself.
  • MOTIVATE by setting clear goals, monitor performance.
  • COACH your team to deliver results.

Remember that people don’t leave organisations but they leave their boss*.  When your employees perform well, your own reputation as their manager is enhanced.  Most definitely good enough reason to ensure that your manager-techniques are top notch!

*(Attributed to Marcus Buckingham in  “First Break All The Rules”.  http://amzn.to/2fmf0XT)

© Christine de Caux 2016      All rights reserved

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is the online home for CdeC Solutions, created by Christine de Caux, HR Consultant Coach

Mailing address: CdeC Solutions,The Apex,2 Sheriffs Orchard,Coventry CV1 3PP, UK
 
 

Secret Mistake Many Managers Make

Have you ever told your team that you are always available for them?  And you genuinely believe it? Why could this be a mistake?

“My door is always open”, except that is when it is closed, I have visitors, I am out of the office again, taking an important call……

Hmm, is  this your dilemma?  Do you want to do the best for your team but find yourself pulled in lots of different directions.  Result?  You worry about not having the time to complete your own important targets, feel harassed, frustrated and like a hamster on a wheel going round and round.

Do you sometimes wish they would all go away?!

Now in some respects being constantly available isn’t necessarily the best thing: it could be a barrier to people using their own initiative.  After all it is much quicker and involves less effort for the boss just to tell them what to do.  Pity, as giving them directions all day stops your employees’ growth.  And being constantly available could land you in being referee to sort out pettiness when people can just work it out for themselves.

Getting the balance right

Do you find it difficult to get the balance right and be sufficiently available for your team?  Do you feel pressured by your own duties?  Perhaps you need to analyse and create reports, undertake policy matters or  direct client liaison and so on.  It is no wonder that you want to retreat into your office.  Has it become normal for you to stay there?  Have you become remote, losing that essential human connection with your team…

But here’s the rub: your team will perceive your availability quite differently from your intention.  Your actions shout loudly when they are different from what you tell your team.

“Well we never see him down here.  How can he possibly understand what’s going on?” complained some operators to me about their manager.

They felt that their worries and suggestions were being sidelined and that they were not important enough for the manager to walk around the plant even once a day.  Result: some disenchanted employees who never got to sound out their great ideas for plant improvement, squashing their natural enthusiasm.

Why not try Management By Walking Around (MBWA)? 

Well, my manager friend, this involves you randomly checking in with your team members about how things are going.  And you need to see them at their work station frequently, as well as at any scheduled meetings that you may have.  See them doing their work in a natural way.   MBWA is not a particularly new concept but it still does have merit.

Employees often view their “closeted” managers as aloof, even intimidating.  Consciously take the opportunity to connect with your team.  You will be amazed at how much you can learn from them and find out what is really going on.

OK, so you have a desk full of work that you need to attend to and deadlines to meet.  But it is very important to really get to know your team well.  Get a clear understanding of their strengths, abilities and, of course, get to know when people need explanations and help.

Sound time consuming?  Actually this method to reduces your workload and frustration whilst you gain a perspective on individual performance.

Don’t just walk through the office or plant on your way out to the car park.  You need to really engage with people and actively listen to what they have to say.  Avoid the method beloved of some military types “Any complaints?”

Be approachable, informal and be genuinely interested in each of your team members.

Your employees’ ideas are valuable

Use their grass root perspective to help you with ideas for improvements.  You can gain valuable insight into what actually happens, how plant and systems really work and how customers and suppliers behave.  Ensure that you follow up any concerns and listen to negative comments as these give you valuable insight to morale.

Remember too that a great idea doesn’t mind who thought of it.  Your team members can have some excellent ideas for new products, system modifications and are more likely to share them with you if they are able to talk to you informally during the day.  You probably won’t implement all of the suggestions that come your way, but you will encourage your team by talking things through.  In this way, you encourage their involvement. Ultimately this will improve motivation and performance.

Be careful to talk to everyone at some point  

MBWA is more than chatting to people with the same interests as you.  Talking about football or fashion, is easy but remember that the quiet person is also deserving of your attention.  Walking around gives you the chance to share company vision and values in a practical and natural way.

Equally, make sure that you aren’t in anyone’s face and definitely avoid micro-management!

When you use this technique, you have the added bonus of identifying people to train up to do some of your tasks.  Delegating in the right way enhances your team’s development, a step towards succession planning and not least takes away some of your work burden so that you can MBWA!  You will also gain the trust of your workforce and develop great team spirit where everyone can enjoy their job.

I love Dilbert: look at this!  http://bit.ly/2eWMbOu

©Christine de Caux 2016 All rights reserved

Why not sign up to receive news and posts from Fantastic Managers and be the first to hear about additional material, complimentary mini courses and full expert courses.

www.Fantastic-Managers.com

is the online home for CdeC Solutions, created by Christine de Caux, HR Consultant Coach

Mailing address: CdeC Solutions, The Apex, 2 Sheriffs Orchard, Coventry, CV1 3PP, United Kingdom