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The 7 faces of managers

There's more than one version of you

There’s more than one version of you

The ability to wear different hats is essential for anyone managing others. You don’t have to have an acting background but you will need to know how to play 7 different roles, which are as follows:

1.  Leader

In industrial sectors and economies a foreman would be making sure everyone adheres to a system, and organise processes and people. In the knowledge economy management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define a purpose: managers must organize workers, not just to maximise efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

 

2. Catalyst

A manager has to make things happen but through other people. They need to motivate in order to be able to delegate. Sometimes, thus feels like pinning down a fish because what propels individuals to action isn’t set in stone. Honing in on what makes individuals tick is a necessary skill that you can develop.

 

3. Coach

Your team members may need your guidance. Sometimes it’s quicker to do it yourself (got children? Then you’ll know what I mean). The problem with that is they’ll be hanging off your Herman Miller chair and no amount of rotating will shake them off since you’ve just developed co-dependants. Put a bit of coaching in upfront and you’ll free up your time later.

 

4. Observer

To make progress, you need to note what’s going on and how people operate in that paradigm. Then decide how to interact in that world. Whether you need to change your leadership style or the way you influence depends on the status quo you observe. Change is a constant so by keeping your eyes and ears open, you’ll find a way to optimise your teams.

 

5. Peer

You could look on and tell your team what to do or roll up your sleeves and collaborate. Looking on develops a ‘them and us’ situation. There are times when professional distance will not win respect but resentment. Collaboration engenders greater respect and shows that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

 

6. Supporter

A supporter provides support. If you already guessed that, well done to you.

Delegation isn’t always just a matter of sending people off to work on a project or task. You may be the one with budget and resources they need. Support can come in the way of feedback, structure, equipment, being a sounding board, providing space and time to your people. Either way, delegation is not a matter of ditching responsibility. Even if you do let go of the reins, you need to know where they are.

 

7. Challenger

To get the best out of people, a certain level of challenge could keep them on their toes.

Without challenge, individuals can coast, sacrificing the resourcefulness that’s necessary in shifting sands. It also reflects a level of faith in people when you encourage them to reach beyond themselves. Do make sure that this aspiration for them, though, matches the one they have for themselves otherwise you’ll need to sell it more.

 

Have you got anything to add to these roles? Is there one I’ve omitted?

Feel free to let me know in the comments…

Do you make these 9 common management mistakes?

 

BlindleadingblindsmallTake any project you’ve worked on and think back.  How could it have been better?

There’s so much you can learn from a job done badly that I’ve compiled a list, which is by no means exhaustive.  There are many ways a project can be dragged out,  botched up,  and overshoot the budget.

My engineering clients chipped in with this compilation and you can apply the following situations across all technical realms.

Let me know below:  what have I missed?

  1. Too many clashing agendas from all the business partners
    The problem is many leaders don’t use their communication skills to sort out conflicting aims before they become a problem.  Negotiating and setting expectations are key.
  2. Too many people at meetings that don’t stick to the point
    It’s pretty unlikely that a 2 hour meeting really does involve 15 people.  Pick out what’s relevant for whom and only have them present.  ‘Meetings’ can be just as effective one a one-to-one basis, while the kettle’s on.
  3. Too many meetings or lack of agenda and actionable outcomes
    Sometimes the outcome of the meetings is….another meeting.  Who’s doing what by when?  Do they have the capability and know-how?  Have you checked they have the resources?  Individuals need varying levels of delegation and nothing’s going to get done if they need more from you and it’s not given or benchmarked.
  4. Mismatching the skill set with the role, e.g., process engineer delivering electrical deliverables.  It’s like hiring a nuclear physicist as a lawyer.  (Of course, they could probably blow up the opposition for you but I’m not sure it’s legal where you are).
  5. Lack of or incomplete scope of work
    I bet you know this one:  Client:  ‘Here’s the job.’  1 month later:  Client ‘I forgot to add this.’  2 weeks later…’There’s this as well.’  Then they get rankled when you mention pricing and delay of completion.  Part of the issue is the way information is extracted from the client / partner.  It comes down to asking the right questions.  Another point is that managers may take little time out to think how lessons learned in the past can be integrated into the current project.
  6. Roles and responsibilities ill -defined
    Team friction is often due do the scope of the project changing (see no.5 above). Roles and responsibilities shift, causing ambivalence and conflict.
  7. Absence of risk mitigation or contingency planning
    Not reflecting on lessons learned from previous projects dulls the foresight you need to spot and mitigate risks.
  8. Exchanging personnel on a regular basis
    Not everyone does hand overs well, and some staff don’t do hand overs at all so subsequent team members have no idea what’s what.  All you can rely on is management being in the know.  They’ll possibly be out of the loop on small details that can make a big difference unless they’re in close proximity to their teams.  If you know you’re going to have to change people round, ensure the right people are involved when the baton’s passed.
  9. Lack of control of work done resulting considerable amounts of rework
    If the hand is off the steering wheel, the car will end up in a ditch (if you’re lucky).  Likewise, letting projects run without a detailed schedule, risk management and a more collaborative approach, results in having to backing up and follow a new road from the beginning. This adds to cost and time.

 

Management is sometimes leading, other times collaborating, and balancing that with knowing when to step back. .

What’s missing?  Add your own experiences below!  Looking forward to seeing them…

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2 quick tips for productive meetings

Only too often, we sit in meetings, bored to tears by the tangential conversation, the conversation hoggers and the lack of relevance to the agreed agenda.

I’ve put together two magic tips you can use in your next meetings to save your time, increase engagement and maximise productivity.

Your Emails Just Kill Me!

Hi Alex,

You haven’t given me the dates yet for when we’re meeting. Let me know this week, please.

Alison ‘

This email may seem rather too direct for some people, OK for others and a few may regard this as extraordinarily polite: there is a ‘please’ there, after all!

How direct we can be with others depends on the following:

  1. culture: some nationalities are generally more direct than others;
  2. context: maybe I’ve sent you 3 emails for the dates and you still haven’t got back to me;
  3. status: am I your boss, your supplier, your colleague, a trainee?
  4. personality: there are people you know who just ‘say it as it is’, and you can let it go. That comes down to trust: trust in the fact there’s no animosity behind the words. You don’t take it as a ‘stab’. Or you simply trust that they wouldn’t be so upfront unless there was, what you consider, to be some fairness there.


All this would depend on how well you know others and this could mean some trial and a couple of ‘errors’. Regard that as feedback and modify if it’s going to make a working relationship too prickly.

The Directness Thermometer

The Anglo-Saxon culture represents an email minefield for both natives and non-natives and even us Brits need to learn the art of ‘padding’ or softening requests, making them less direct.

However, be aware that ‘padding’ could seem non-committal in other cultures, so being more direct would mean that you actually get your requests fulfilled rather than brushed aside. So here’s a padding temperature gauge, starting with the most direct and progressing to the most polite…

Oy, give me that document now.
Oy, give me that document now, please
Give me that document now, please.
Do me a favour. Give me that document.
Could you please give me that document?
Would you be able to give me that document?
Can I ask you to give me that document?
(Despite the wording, you ARE actually asking for the document, not asking if you can ask for it. This is typical of an Anglo Saxon indirect request)
May I ask you to give me that document?
Would it be possible to ask you for that document?
Please, would it be – perhaps – possible that a chance may exist at some convenient point that you may be so kind as to give me that document?
(At this point, you’re on your knees, begging to a psychopath who has electric probes pointing at your head.  Maybe you’ll need this.  Maybe you won’t.  I’d say, think about re-evaluating the need for this relationship…)

There’s much reading between the lines in certain cultures such as Anglo-Saxon and South-East Asian countries. In his book, ‘Beyond Culture’, Edward Hall defines cultures such as the Japanese and Chinese high -context cultures.  One of the characteristics of such nations is that reading between the lines needs to be a common practice. These nationalities aren’t as literal, as ‘out there’ as cultures like the U.S or Germany, which Hall would define as low context.

How to Read Between the Lines

The Anglo Saxon culture can be a particular nightmare as it straddles both the high and low so here’s a short guide as to the (possible) meanings behind the words:

1.  You’ve misunderstood/You’re wrong!
= Maybe I didn’t make myself clear

2.   How many times do I need to TELL you?!/As I’ve told you…
= I do need to emphasise/Following my email (below)

3.   Why are you sending me this? Seems useless to me.
= Interesting. How do you see me using this?

4.    The client will think you’re (an idiot/going mad…)
= This may be perceived as (risky/unusual)…

5.    What changes! I seem to have lost my crystal ball.
= I wasn’t aware of any changes.

6.    Do this now. You should have done this yesterday.
= May I request you to do this now?

7.   What a rip-off! Do I look like a mug?!
= We’ll need to revisit the costings.

8.    I can’t see you tomorrow.
= I’m not sure I can see you tomorrow.

General rules are as follows:

  1. Instead of blaming others with a finger-pointing ‘you’, the Brits would tend to use the passive form (no person).  For example: “This may be perceived…”
  2. If there’s a problem to be solved, especially in negotiations, ‘we’ would be more likely, as in number 7.
  3. We’ll pad for requests, as in ‘May I request…?”.
  4. Substitute ‘Why?’ for ‘What would be the reasons for…’ or ‘How do you…’ as in number 2.
  5. Brits may use modals of probability such as ‘may/may not’ or phrases such as ‘I’m not sure that I can…’ as in number 8 instead of saying what they mean: ‘I can’t..’

Pick up the Phone

There are those who seem very off-putting in their email communication because they can’t see the effect their style is having or they hear their words differently to how the recipient is playing them back in their heads.

I know a delightful woman who is always irritating others with her email style.  No, I’m not being sarcastic.  She really is a lovely person but because she doesn’t know how to word her requests, she sounds aggressive.  Face to face, you get a completely different impression.

Tread carefully when you need to and you’ll be able to get your point across clearly without severing the relationship (unless you want to, of course..).  Do note, though, that sometimes the easiest action to take, if you do find yourself in a battle of words and wills, is to pick up the phone.

More often than not, hearing the intonation behind the intention will help both parties realise that an over-reliance on virtual contact may not be too constructive.

 

Need some help with how you communicate across cultures?  Click here and I may well be able to help you even more.

How where you sit affects your influence…

I’d been speaking to some accountants who had a disastrous client meeting.

It turned out that it was all in the seating so I’ve made this quick video so you can see how to avoid conflict and steer actions through the simple mastery of the Four Positions for Influence in Meetings.

No choreography, Kama Sutra or Yoga. These positions are much quicker to learn and won’t break your back!

Happy watching!