Leadership

Some people think that to be a leader you need a position in a company, a job title, or some sort of status. This is simply not true.

You can choose to be a leader in every aspect of your own life. It’s entirely up to you.

You can either wait for people to come to you, or you can go to them.

You can passively accept events, or you can change them.

You can blame others for what’s happening, or you can take responsibility for what’s happening.

You can choose to wait, or you can choose to act.

Choose to be a leader.

Do you regularly chair team meetings? Do you find yourself frustrated with controlling those meetings? Perhaps you have issues with certain individuals? This may be a possible solution for you and your team.

I have been participating in a lot of group work recently and it has made me reflect back on the times when I used to facilitate team meetings in the work place. These rules are transferable to any type of meeting and will help set the ground rules. They worked for me and I’m sure you will be able to adapt the concept for your own team too.

Rule 1

Turn Up On Time

Rule 2

Listen whilst someone else is talking

Rule 3

Listen with the intent to underst and, not reply

Rule 4

No bad language is allowed

Rule 5

No idea is a bad idea

Rule 6

If you have a problem, please follow up with a possible solution

You’ll notice that none of the rules are complicated. As the chair of the meeting you have to lead by example…so make sure you follow your rules too.

Applying the rules

What I did to apply the rules was print them out on A4 paper with a big font size and display them at each meeting I chaired. You could do the same with your own version.

You could also ask your team to put the rules together themselves, and if you know what you are looking for you could guide them through the process.

What would you do?

  1. What else would you include on the list?
  2. Do you think this is too simple?
  3. Do you think it would help your meeting run smoother?

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to be awesome!

Chris.

I was reminded this weekend, after having a conversation with a group of friends, of a piece of great advice that my old boss gave me. She would say to me that “…you have to pick your fights”. I’m sure she will remember this conversation and, from interpreting her at the time, I feel that she learned this through being the one who had to/needed to st and up and challenge the changes that were taking place in the organisation at the time…partly because no one else would.

Without getting too deep into it, this is something that I feel a lot of people still have to learn.

As a manager or a business owner you may come across team members who constantly challenge every single implementation or change you make in your organisation. This can become very tiring, and eventually you may stop listening to them. This will most likely be due to getting tired of having to deal with the constant issues, and it eventually becomes a kind of ‘boy who cried wolf’ situation.

This initial advice is not for business owners as such, but for team members within organisations and businesses. Pick your fights carefully, pick out the things you want to challenge because you feel strongly about the associated issues. Be constructive, be knowledgable, be informative, underst and the bigger picture of what might be taking place and most of all show respect – note: respect is a two way street!

My advice for business owners whom find themselves in this situation is to find a positive way to deal with issues like this. You have to do something to solve this issue if it exists, otherwise you will struggle to implement changes and get the full support that you may require from your team. A few options that spring to mind: –

  1. It may be that some team members require more information than others in order to underst and WHY the organisation is making changes – give them what they want.
  2. You may have to have a private conversation with some team members in order to get them on side and begin to support the changes you are making. 30 minutes of private attention may solve the issue and the team members will feel more considered as part of the wider organisation – make them an advocate and he/she will start to promote the changes you are making.
  3. Communicate regularly with your team – make it personal, make it your mission to connect with them.
  4. It is possible that your team do not feel that they can communicate openly and honestly with you. Perhaps they feel intimidated or not listened to or considered as part of the organisational decision making? Think about how you could solve this issue (See point 3).

I hope you will agree that it is much more powerful to pick up on and focus on the things that bother you the most. Also, you can use your energy more efficiently, and it is far more likely that you will be listened to and have your ideas and thoughts considered.

So, what fight are you going to pick next??

As always, feedback and comments are welcomed!

Thanks for reading,

Chris.

There will always be a time where you will have to complete a task, delegated to you by your boss, that you are not fully motivated to complete. Your lack of motivation could be for many reasons; lack of involvement, lack of underst anding, lack of interest, etc. However, this does not mean that you will not do it, or that it will be done to any less of a quality…but you do need to find a way to motivate yourself, and your manager needs to find a way to positively motivate you too.

If your manager knows you well enough, he or she will know what tasks you like and dislike. The manager can then take advantage of the mother principle/rule.

Remember when you were young your Mum used to say…”if you eat your vegetables you will get dessert”…or…”if you get your homework done first you can then go out and play”…?

Apply this concept to leadership/management and you can combine what employees don’t like doing with what they do like doing.

If you are the boss then you can apply the principle  to what you do…reward yourself with a task you enjoy doing after completing one you don’t like as much.

Thanks,

Chris.

As a manager and leader you really want your team to be empowered to make their own decisions, but that does not happen overnight. One of the first things that has to be done is to sit down with the team and agree the team operating values.

I used this technique with a newly established team just recently. It really helps to get the whole together in one room and chat about what they consider to be important in a team environment.

The flow chart below highlights the main areas of discussion when discussing team work: –

This exercise can be used along with the previous values/motivators discussion which will allow the team to think about why they are here and what they feel is important to them as individuals; setting the scene for this next discussion about team work.

Facilitating a discussion

If you have read my previous posts you will know that what I tend to do when facilitating group discussions is ask a lot of questions and use what the team come up with to steer the discussion, whilst ensuring the discussion is kept relevant and going in the correct direction. This technique will allow for open discussion. Just remember to listen and ask the team members to elaborate on points made; sometimes it is far too easy to spout out one word answers.

What you need

  1. Your team all in the same room
  2. A flip chart to capture everything
  3. Motivation and energy
  4. A positive attitude
  5. An open mind

1. Identify your team

Spend time discussing with the team who they consider to be their team members. It is important that the whole team agree and that you as the manager are happy with the result the team come up with.

As the facilitator you should already know what answer you are looking for. Think about the bigger picture; there will most likely be sub teams within larger teams. It will be interesting to see what the team come up with and will highlight how each person thinks.

2. Agreeing Team Values

Make use of one of my previous posts about getting to know your employees which will help you facilitate discussion about team values and motivators. The result will allow the team to think about why they are here and what they consider to be important about working in the team. This will allow the team to really underst and what their team is all about and why they do what they do. Again, it is vital that everyone agrees with what is discussed.

3. Operating from the bottom-up

By hosting a focus group like this you are allowing the bottom-up approach to take shape; allowing your employees to make decisions and influence the future of the organisation and how their team operates.

I feel that it is vital to open up the communication channels from the very start and show the team that their ideas are listened to and considered. The worst thing you can do is shut them down; you will find that a lot of good ideas will come from your team and you have to give them the platform to expresses themselves and try out new ideas, without the fear of getting into any sort of trouble.

4. One voice

A very important factor in teamwork is to ensure the team are all delivering the the service with the same message; they use the same language, they behave in the same ways.

Again, this forum setting will allow the team to start to form a message and agree on the values of the team.

5. Having a friend at work

Some may think this is not all that important but I have found that having at least one person you can confide in at work is very important. If anything, it allows those who are having a bad day to get things of their chest and know that the person they are confiding will not take it personally and not discuss it with anyone else.

It is important to highlight here that not everyone will have that one person. As a manager you have to pick up on this, it may be that you can be that person.

6. Have an overriding goal

A fairly obvious point; the team must have an objective, something to focus on – quite high level in this case.

Examples could be: –

  • “To deliver the best service”
  • “Get it right first time”
  • “Have no customer complaints”
  • “To be better than everyone else”

Typical Questions

  • If you were able to create a team, what values would you expect?
  • What makes a good team a good team?
  • How should a good team operate?

This is a great start for discussing team work with your team and is the start of many posts about team work.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

In every organisation there are performance reviews and there will be informal
and formal checking and monitoring of performance.

The information below is a guide or set of tips for managers who chair performance
reviews in their organisation and this is how I get the most out of the review
meetings (basically by asking A LOT if questions).

Traditionally managers would be used to looking at WHAT you have done at performance review. It is just as important, if not more important, to consider HOW tasks have been completed and WHY; thus assessing the workers behaviour along with performance and results.

The Aims

  1. To engage with the employees, find out what they are thinking and how they
    feel about their job.
  2. To discuss past/current/future organisational objectives and how they impact
    upon their role.
  3. Discuss personal performance to date (ties in nicely with the Octopus development
    tool from earlier).
  4. Discuss the future of their career and personal development.

Tips
Do not give away information…the chances are you will know the answers
to the questions, but it is better to get the employee to think about the answers
and respond.

Pre-setting

When arranging performance review meetings it is a good idea to give the employee
some advanced warning. This way you have given the employee the opportunity
to prepare for the meeting. Give them a copy of the notes from their review
from last time so they can take time to figure out what they have achieved versus
what was agreed previously.

The setting

You need to break down the formalities to make everyone feel comfortable.

  1. Sit side by side…don’t have the traditional set up where the manger sits
    across from the employee;
  2. Get a drink or water or a cup of tea/coffee;
  3. Give the employee some paper and a pen in case they want to write notes;
  4. Explain that you are going to take notes about your discussion;
  5. Give the employee an indication of how long the review will last.

Introduction

Describe the process to the employee and the structure of the meeting including
the aims.

Starting off – the past

Go on to talk about the period between now and the last review (refer to notes
from previous review)

  1. How has your job changed in the last 6 months/1 Year – is this a positive
    change?
  2. What do you feel you have achieved in the last 6 months/1 Year?
  3. Have you met your objectives? Why/why not?
  4. What challenges have you encountered?

Talking about now

  1. Describe the job role that you fulfil at the moment.
  2. How does your job fit in with the rest of the team/organisation?
  3. What do you like the most about your job?
  4. What do you like the least about your job?
  5. Currently, what would you say are your main objectives?

Go on to focus on the objectives for the next period and provoke thought
by asking questions, which may include: –

Customer Focus

  1. How do you think your role impacts upon the customer service?
  2. What do you currently do, in your role, to enhance the customer experience?
  3. What would you say your strengths are with regards to customer service?
  4. Do you have something unique that makes you st and out from the rest?
  5. In your role, how do you think you can improve the customer service?
  6. Do you feel that you really know what the customer wants?
  7. Comment on the recent survey…why do you think we were rated as we were…do
    you think this truly reflects our service? Why/why not?
  8. What kind of challenges do you face when trying to be as customer focussed
    as possible?

Meeting Targets

Rate your own performance from 1 to 10 – What are you measuring your performance
against?

  1. How do you motivate yourself?
  2. How do you get things done?
  3. Who measures your performance?
  4. How do you make sure you meet your targets?
  5. Are you an organised person?
  6. Is there anything you feel that you could be doing better?
  7. How do you organise yourself?
    1. Do you prioritise your own work or does someone do that for you?
    2. How is your work prioritised?
  8. What challenges to you anticipate in meeting your objectives?
  9. What challenges do you face in your day to day routine?

Behaviour

When we talk about be behaviour we are talking about professionalism and how
that behaviour is tailored for people working inside and outside of the organisation;
the customer and the people you work with.

  1. If someone was to ask you what you do for a living…what would you tell
    them?
    1. Do you promote the organisation outside of work?
  2. What if I said to you “Act professionally“…what would
    that mean to you?
  3. Do you enjoy your job?
  4. Are you proud of what you do?
  5. Are you enthusiastic about your work?
  6. How do you feel about your job?
  7. Why is it important to be professional ?

The working environment

  1. How would you describe the current working environment?
  2. Can improvements be made?
  3. Are you doing everything you can to make sure there is a good working atmosphere?
  4. Who’s job is it to maintain a good working environment?
  5. What do you think we can do to improve the working environment?

What about the future?

  1. What do you see your self doing in the future?
  2. What are your aspirations?
  3. What do you feel passionate about?
  4. What do you think you could be doing to improve your job?
  5. Is there something that we do already that you would like to get involved
    in?
  6. How do you see you career progress in the
    1. Short term
    2. Medium term
    3. Long term
  7. What kind of support do you think you need?

Tips

  1. Follow up appropriate questions with ‘why’
  2. Do not give away too much…get them thinking by asking a lot of questions,
    for example: –
    1. How does that make you feel?
    2. Why is that?
    3. What could have been done to improve that?
  3. Normally with any question you ask you should have a good idea of the response
    you are going to 3. get. It’s best if you know what you are looking for when
    you ask the question, then you can comment on anything that is missing, or
    elaborate on specific parts of the answer.
  4. Feedback your opinion on performance with <em>constructive</em>
    comments.

Closing the meeting

  1. Give an overview of specific areas including the agreed objectives for
    the following period;
  2. Give praise where it is due and comment on areas that require improvement;
  3. Make sure the employee has something to think about when they leave the
    review meeting;
  4. Agree your next meeting date/time.

Managing the process

As before it is important that the manager is well organised.

  1. Make sure you organise your notes
  2. Make sure you read over your notes from the last meeting so you know what
    you want to cover
  3. A day or so later, feedback to the employee with minutes of your meeting,
    detailing current objectives and agreed actions for both employee and manager.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

 

I’m sure that in your organisation you will have some sort of internal review process/performance review, although sometimes it is not enough to just have a meeting once per year or to just focus on the goals related to the role the employee plays within the organisation. This development tool focuses upon the individual with reference to their PERSONAL objectives, on an ongoing basis.

I have designed a development plan that can be used for all team members and I have made them available for download as .pdf documents ( Stage 1 – Self Assessment and Stage 2 – Agreed Objectives).

I personally really enjoy spending time with people and get them thinking about the future and what their aspirations may be. I want to support them in whatever it is they want to do and this tool helps me to do that in a structure way.

A planned development strategy will allow you to: –

  1. Spend structured, formal and regular time with individual team members.
  2. Constructively recognise employee strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Agree objectives and work on areas of development.
  4. Give them more exposure and room to develop.
  5. Monitor their performance and give them direct and constructive feedback.

There are many advantages for the employer and the employee: –

  1. A skilled, knowledgeable and engaged workforce
  2. The individuals know that you care about their personal development
  3. High team morale
  4. The team begin to really enjoy their job
  5. Everyone feels involved and that they are achieving something

Remember to use questions to get information and facilitate discussion.

Stage 1

( .pdf)

Using this form you can either choose to sit down with the employee and discuss or send them away with the form to complete the questions and get back to you…then discuss at a later date. The main idea here is to get them engaged in thinking about their career path and what development they require in order to get what they want. Question 7 “Do you have someone at work that you would consider your best friend” is really just about finding out if there is someone that the employee can fully trust, which I think is important in the workplace.

As far as development is concerned, the main areas to concentrate on are questions 2, 3 and 8. Question 8 is a good place to start you will be able to get a good picture of what the employee is working towards, which will than allow you to approach the areas of development required in order to meet their goal.

Stage 2

( .pdf)

The stage 2 form is then used to break down the goals into smaller chunks, perhaps even tasks that need to be completed in order to develop. You use one form for each objective and you may end up with 4 or 5 which may all be of different time scales.

Remember to make the objectives SMART and give the employee a clear deadline for things to be completed.

When you come to review progress you can use the section at the bottom of the form to take notes.

Building a Portfolio

After you start ‘ticking boxes’ and making progress you find that you start to build up a nice portfolio of achievement for the employees. This could possibly be used as a tool for promotion.

Adopting the correct leadership style

You have to be prepared for things to not go the way you planned. Also, there will be some who require little coaching and guidance to meet their personal objectives, and some who require much more attention. You won’t know until you start the process and find out who needs what attention from you and what style of leadership you will need to adopt.

Managing the process

As the manager it is up to you to check progress and organise the meetings; you are the key support in their development. You will find that if you do not keep on top of it things will not be achieved, although it very much depends on how engaged the employee is. Remember to follow up on any agreed actions; organise a training course, send someone an email or schedule another meeting, for example.

Take the time after each meeting to review your notes and jot down what you think is next and schedule the next meeting in your diary before you forget.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

Introduction

In my current job one of my current goals, as part of a wider programme, is to eradicate gossip.

I have seen the results of gossip, I’ve found myself managing conflict due to gossip and I have been a victim myself.

I am aware that this is not going to happen overnight and I am also aware that there will be many small steps that will help achieve this goal, the first steps of which I have highlighted below.

It would be naive to say that an organisation/department/team will run smoothly everyday without conflict; I am realistic and believe that conflict is inevitable and should be managed in order to keep your team progressive and innovative.

You cannot go through your daily routine avoiding the difficult conversations to avoid conflict, it is important to deal with the issues your team faces head on. As a team leader your team will have more respect for you and you will also learn from the experience; each time you deal with difficult situations it gets easier.

Do not let issues roll on for a long time, this encourages gossip, will ultimately demotivate and could ultimately make your team miserable…’nip it in the bud’.

Dealing with gossip

Before getting into the steps I took the very first thing I did was write to the whole team by the way of a memo.

The memo gave them a brief indication of what to expect when arriving to the forum.

This will align expectations; minimising any fears and getting people engaged in subject thought.

At this stage I also assigned the team a few small ‘thinking’ tasks to get everyone engaged.

My meetings only last for 30 minutes because this is the only window of time I have to minimise the impact upon our customers, but it is enough time to discuss a subject (another reason for the memo; it will get some pre-work done before the meeting).

As the team leader, one thing that is paramount in every team meeting is that you include yourself as part of the team.

Do not refer to your team as ‘them’ or ‘you’; use words like ‘us’ and ‘we’.

Get your team together in one room

Explain to your team why you have arranged this forum.

Dothey agree that there is an issue with gossip and that something needs to be done about it?

Tip – Use a lot of questions throughout, encourage answers and try not to give out any information, ask them for it. (How, What, Where, Why & When)

Define ‘gossip’ specific to your workplace

Facilitate an open forum to first of all define and describe what gossip actually is. See if team members can pull from personal experience or give some specific examples.

This will ensure that all team members agree on what gossip is and therefore be able to identify it in their daily routine.

All team members should underst and and be working from the same definition.

Tip – Have some definitions prepared in order to facilitate discussion.

Ask questions based around them, for example, quote a definition and ask the team if they agree with it or not,
and why.

A good analogy from a writer called Don Michael Ruiz from the book “The Four Agreements”(p37-42)

“Gossiping has become the main form of communication in human society. It has become the way we feel close to each other, because it makes us feel better to see someone else feel as badly as we do.

Gossip can be compared to a computer virus; a computer virus is a piece of computer language written in the same language that all the other codes are written in, but with harmful intent.

After this code is introduced, your computer doesn’t work right, or it doesn’t function at all because the codes get mixed up with so many conflicting messages that it stops producing good results.”

Dictionary Definitions

  1. Rumour or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature
  2. A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumours or facts

Team Agreement

  1. Make sure everyone agrees on the definition.
  2. Define your goals and aims from this discussion – what is it that you hope to achieve? Eradicate gossip?
  3. Identify those that think it cannot be achieved, find out what they are thinking and their reasoning and discuss this openly.

Tip – Look out for ‘nods’ and ‘shakes’ of heads. This will highlight acceptance…also folded arms or a defensive posture. Even if people aren’t saying much, if they are nodding their heads you can be confident that they are listening and agree with what is being said.

Agree on the techniques for stopping gossip

Discuss openly with the team, but have some of your own ideas in order to facilitate discussion. For example, if each individual has agreed to eradicate gossip, then each individual should be able to tell their colleague(s) that they do not want to engage in gossip and walk away from it. If everyone is doing this then the gossip culture will soon disappear.

Tip – One thing that you have to remember is that it all starts with the leader. You must be the example of ‘good behaviour’ and not be involved in gossip yourself.

Monitor progress

It is important to monitor the progress of the team and publically reward those who behave in the way that

has been agreed. Unfortunately not everyone will learn at the same pace and you will have to privately reprim and those who are not behaving in the way that has been agreed.
Remember that the team agreed to these boundaries or rules, so you do not have to appear like the ‘bad guy’.
In most cases you will be able to remind those who are not working towards the goals about the agreements made and be very specific about what it is about their current behaviour that goes against the agreement.

Again, it is important to pick up on these issues early on so team members do no think it is acceptable to behave like that.

You have to be aware that there is a fine line between idle ‘chit chat’, gossip and bullying and it is important to recognise when things are getting serious. That is why it is really important to challenge issues early on.

Small issues build up and eventually become one big issue, which can result in conflict, bullying and upset team members.

The focus should be on having a highly focussed and responsive team who all respect each other.

In order to have a fully functioning team the team members need to be able to express their opinion and discuss topics openly.

What’s next?

The next step is to figure out how the team members are going to work without gossip.

and have the ability to express their opinion without causing offence or taking things personally.

There is danger that the team may think that they are not able to talk without the risk of getting into trouble for ‘gossiping’ or personally attacking people.

Managing gossip is one step towards strong communication,  and it must be addressed, however there are several topics that the team must discuss. For example, not taking things personally, which will be covered in future posts.

I hope that you have found something interesting here that will help you with your own team development.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions.

Thanks for reading,

Chris.

As a follow up from Managing Deadlines 1: For Delegates I thought it would be prudent to give some advice a tips for the managers who set the deadlines and delegate the tasks.

Give a clear date a time
Make sure you give the delegate a clear date for exactly WHEN the task should be completed by. You may even want to specify a time. It is best not to say “ASAP” or “at your convenience”…be specific.

Be clear – be SMART
If you give the delegate as much information at the start this will minimise confusion and lots of questions further down the line. It will also allow the delegate to get on with the task and be very clear on WHAT he/she should be working towards.

Give clear expectations and parameters
Make sure your expectations are clear. Mention the st andards you expect, what the delegate can or cannot do; HOW the task should be completed

Arrange a time to meet the delegate(s)
Depending on the size of the task it may be appropriate to meet and discuss the task or project before it is fully delegated. This will provide a good opportunity to discuss what is to be achieved and allow for any questions to be answered. You may want to set progress meetings up to check in with the delegate over the course of the set period.

Highlight personal and organisational benefits
By highlighting the benefits the employee will be more likely to buy into the task/project and complete it on time. This will provide the delegate with the WHY.

Note down your set deadlines
You will need to remember what deadlines you set and for whom. You should use your diary or a task list system (Microsoft Outlook or something similar) to do this for you; after you have set a dozen or so it can get difficult to manage. It is important that you do this…especially for those who tend to slip on the deadlines.

Inevitably a deadline will be missed and you will have to reprim and someone. However, if you delegate properly and make sure your message is clear your employees will have a better chance at meeting the deadline with the timing, st andard and quality you expected.

I hope this helps you out. Please build on this by leaving a comment below.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

When it’s time for annal appraisals remember to spend time talking about career development and personal goals. Try to look at appraisals as a personal development tool…key word – PERSONAL!!

Give your employees time to discuss their own personal achievements and goals.
Find a way that you can help and support them to achieve their goals and become successful.

Inspired by this quip from Dilbert:

Dilbert Setting Goals