Tag Archives: Workforce Development

How to be a Great Boss!

Many people are thrust into the position of managing others with out formal training in the business world.  People achieve a higher role because they have added value to an organization by either being extremely good at their particular discipline, or have shown exemplary dedication to the company.  The company (or individual) wants to reward that person so, poof!…… you’re a manager!.

The Problem:

Seldom are these people trained and disciplined at the art of management, which results in haphazard “On the Job Training”.  OJT can be costly for all parties involved.  Some of the time this happens to a person that is a “natural” and is good enough at balancing relationships with productivity.  More often than not, these newly appointed “Managers” have no formal training at developing their interpersonal skills, nor even understand the importance of getting people to like their job.  Too often have I heard “ just do it ‘cause I said so”, “I’m the boss and I said so…”, or “joke” about disciplining someone if they don’t do the simplest thing.  Far too often the people that decide to promote don’t see, or don’t have the ability to assess their new manager in these regards, because they are busy with their own job.  The other extreme is having someone in that role that is overly sensitive and doesn’t want to upset anyone, so they do too little.  Both of these are common occurrences  in our business environment and how this change is handled can have a great effect on your businesses ability to generate revenue.

I suspect we can all relate to both of those examples.

So what makes a Great Boss?  Who should be the judge of who a great boss is?  What is the secret to being a Great Boss?  What do employees want in a Great Boss? Lastly, how do you be a great boss in a poor environment?

It comes down to 3 + 1

Every manager needs to spend dedicated time on developing these 3 area’s….

Management basics

Interpersonal Skills

Personal Competency

…….and they need to follow one common trait….

Consistency

10 basic Management rules to follow 

  • All of these rules speak to humans basic needs, and if you meet them while managing, you will find that those stubborn work-born problems seem to solve themselves through your people.
  1. You must show you understand what their job entails, without ever being asked
  2. Show them how to succeed, give them the tools they need
  3. Always train and develop everyone at all levels
  4. Lead, brand first.  Your actions need to be traceable to your company, brand, and business culture.
  5. Be unselfish and patient.  Serve others, not yourself.  Give credit and even if its your accomplishment, give the credit to the team anyways.  Your employees are your most important customers!
  6. Deal with problems immediately, or educate why it’s not a big deal to employee’s that think otherwise.
  7. Find them doing something RIGHT, and make a big deal of it.
  8. Your always “on Stage” someone is always watching you.  Many look up to you.  Everyone judges you.  Don’t make them want to turn the channel!
  9. Set clear expectations, always have a plan, don’t assume they know what you mean
  10. Hold everyone accountable, there are many great teaching moments everyday.

I have no doubt you have seen many or all of these before.  These are taught at many management symposiums.  They alone do not make you a Great Boss.  These will make you respected at your position by most people and likely bring some good results by your staff.

Interpersonal skills 

  • Often this take a large time investment to pay off (thus easy to skimp on) but is a necessary part of being a Great Boss!  This is about relationships, and if a manger has no interest in building relationships, then they will never be a “great boss”.  Older methodologies cite that “building a relationship” with employees is unnecessary or even wrong.  This outdated thinking has been replaced by newer abundance mentality leadership that focuses on the power of synergy (1+1=3). That said, clearly it needs to be an appropriate relationship.  I like to look at careers that rely on relationships for inspiration,  Ambassadors, Project Managers, Sports Coaches/Managers, to name a few.  They know enough about a person to figure out their drives, goals, and shortcomings.  If you, as their manager, find a way during their job to incorporate their drives with their job duties, help achieve their goals (even if goals are outside of work), and improve on their shortcomings, you build on their esteem and you have made an impression on them professionally.  This builds loyalty, which is a key to being a great boss.  It is difficult to discover these motivators without developing a certain relationship.

Personal competence 

  • Specifically with in your discipline.  Many times “the manager” is simply another hat that someone gets to wear.  If you have a role that you perform(separate from managing), you need to insure you maintain your competency with that discipline.  So often people get too caught up in other manager functions and it takes focus away from their specific role.  Your team will notice if you are slipping, if it affects them directly or not.  Many will focus more on what you are NOT doing with your role then what you are asking them to do in their role.  If they don’t respect the job you perform, chances are they will not consider you a Great Boss.

 

 Consistency is King

Studies have proven the importance of a manager being consistent.  Consistency in personal style, interpersonal skills, consistent expectations and consistent accountability.  When an employee is not sure what to expect it adds significantly to their stress levels and will compound throughout your staff.  This increased stress will manifest multiple ways through attendance, turnover, production, and loyalties.  When employee’s know what to expect, even if it is less than a “best practice” behavior, they can better deal with it and will be more productive overall.

A vast majority of the “People” related problems I help businesses with can be linked to Management inconsistencies.  This WILL greatly effect your ability to generate revenue.

 

How do you know if you’re a great boss?
What is your turnover?       Do employee’s recommend their friends to work their?      Whats the mood of the workplace?       What’s the profit line say?  High Employee engagement?       Do you have a formal Feedback system? Are employee’s asking your advice?       Do you insure that you and your team of Managers provide a consistent work climate?
Challenges –

It can be difficult to champion these traits in an angry, competitive environment, which may be inherited when you take your new role.  This may result from either the person who previously held your position, or your boss not having the same values as what I have listed here. Either way it may be the existing culture. Once you determine the root cause, this needs to be addressed.  If it is the prior manager’s creation, stay the course, follow what I outline here and employees will come around.

If you suspect it is your supervisor, or the company culture in general, then you need to share how this plan of yours will make your supervisor(s), your staff, and you more successful.  Share it with supervisors and subordinates alike.  Be strategic, but not shy, don’t forget that this may be why you were put in this role in the first place.  Also, you don’t need to be the highest ranking manager to initiate a change in culture.  To achieve this it is an investment or your time and efforts, not their capital.  If it increases productivity, decreases attrition, and has a positive effect on financials, how can supervisors argue?  If it makes your employee’s know your a GREAT BOSS, why would they argue?

It is worth it!

Being a great boss means getting the work done through others, consistently and fairly.  Creating an appropriate culture where the individuals can contribute to the company while growing at their own pace, meanwhile meeting(or exceeding) company expectations, makes you a Great Boss!  This means delivering excellence to your staff and inspiring the same from them.  Remember that “Excellence is an attitude”, it’s a choice, and a destination.  Being a great Boss is about excellence and a conscious effort to deliver it.  Great Bosses continually work at being Great Bosses.  Great Bosses create a legacy, a reputation that is attached to them for years to come.

Carpe diem!

Can YOU beat earnings with lower revenue?

Ironically, today’s earnings report from Wal-Mart proves the point I made in my Blog      “Low earnings /Low Profits – What to do?”

I have a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart.  I often shop their begrudgingly. I would prefer to support a local business, but when I am buying toothpaste my choices are generally a Wal-Mart, Chain Drug Store, or grocery store.  There really aren’t too many local businesses to buy toothpaste from.  Wal-Mart is cheaper, and there are always other items that I get while there.  They save me time and money and there for they are a value.  I support local when possible, but frankly I couldn’t afford to buy as many things if I shopped only local and I am a typical American who wants as much stuff as possible.

Yesterday Walmart announced that 2015 Q4 revenue was down, and they expect very little sales growth for all of 2016.  Same store sales were reported to increase less than 1% in 2015. To insure they can meet or beat earnings, they have decreased operation costs and reinvested in Human Capital, choosing to focus on culture over new market channels.

Announcing the closure of 269 stores worldwide and releasing close to 10,000 workers will surely get a lot of attention.  But Wal-Mart is focusing the narrative on developing its Culture.   Wal-Mart is investing by raising the wages of it workers. This is very strategic since they have a history of Legal and Public Relations issues around wages and practices.  Improving employee engagement will help drive business into their well established retail presence.  I support this strategy, but I think they have a lot of work to do besides raising wages.

Walmart recognizes that the growth of online shopping has impacted brick and mortar and they have already begun testing new strategies to target these areas.  Experiments in the Grocery offerings (Organic Product selection & home delivery), introducing their price matching app (which is awesome), the ever expanding electronics section, and the “No Questions return policy” to name a few will go along way to exceed customer expectations and build loyalty.

So…… sales are stagnant, they are giving nearly everyone a raise, and adding to their operational costs….how is this a good plan?

Well to start, the Thursday announcement also mentioned that they beat earnings and brought in a higher dividend than forecast.  Earnings came in at $1.49/ share on a projected $1.46 and quarterly dividend was .50 on a projected .49.  At the open of today their stock is down ~4% and they have fallen ~27% over the last 12 months.

But they still had a 2% increase in dividends and profit!

What would your business do in this situation?  Can you bring in a higher profit while loosing expected revenue?  Would you give a raise to help increase store sales?

Proper planning, strategy, and vision makes the difference.

Carpe diem!

How to make Excellence achievable

I have been a student of Management for 30 years. Management is as much of an art as it is a science and understanding that you practice management rather than it being a degree on the wall shows that you continually evolve in this position. To be a successful Manager you must have an understanding of how to achieve Excellence. Excellence is a combination of several factors depending on what industry you manage in.  Today I am going to discuss the number one thing to do to achieve Excellence in what YOU do.

Excellence is an Attitude

You do not achieve Excellence by completing a checklist, you do not achieve Excellence by doing what the boss said, and lastly, you do not achieve Excellence through watching an inspiration video (although there are some very good ones).

Excellence is a lifestyle

Excellence needs to be how you address everything in your life.  Excellence means never saying “whatever”.  It is setting the highest standards to hold yourself to and having the discipline to hold yourself accountable.  I don’t care what you are doing, you can be excellent at it.  Washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom at home, creating reports, or providing customer service, all can have levels of Excellence attached to them.

You will not achieve Excellence if you think it only applies to a “work” atmosphere.  Excellence can’t be turned on and off.  It’s just in you.

Lets define a few terms;

Excellence – The quality of being outstanding or extremely good (Webster).   Achieving or distinguishing a superior quality in an action or outcome (Simons)

Attitude – A settled way of thinking typically reflected in a persons behavior (Webster).  An approach or outlook demonstrated through actions, communications, or outcomes (Simons)

Pride – A feeling or deep pleasure derived from ones own achievements (Webster).  Personally Responsible In Delivering Excellence (taken from my Corporate Training days)

I am certain I have been “picked on” by those around me for having an Excellence mindset.  I have extremely high standards for myself.  I hold myself to higher standards than I have ever held an employee too.  Why, because it is important to me to do things right (whatever right is).  I look at whatever I do as a product I am producing, and I don’t take it lightly.  Some think I am too hard on myself.  No, I am not.  I just don’t say “whatever”.

Excellence is also about precision.  You need to know exactly what needs to happen in order for it to happen.  Once again, this will carry over to other aspects of your life.  In addition to Management, I am also a classically trained Chef and a life long Drummer.  Precision follows me in both of those.  Playing drums is as much about where you hit the drum or cymbal, and at what angle and with how much force as it is about the rhythms or change ups.  If you match the rhythm but you aren’t precise with your stick, you are a hacker.  If you do it right, you are a drummer.  Doing it exactly the same way every time is Excellence, and much harder than you might think.  The same goes for cooking.  Many people can flip an egg but having the timing to have an entire meal or banquet “go out” together, where no food has had to sit (which degrades quality) and everything is cooked or prepared perfectly can be like conducting a symphony.  Variations will always be noticed by someone in your audience so it is important to be consistent EVERY time.  You need to be very precise with your planning and execution.  You need to know ahead of time how it needs to happen.   Both are great examples because when you haven’t achieved Excellence, you know right away!

Does Excellence allow for mistakes?

Absolutely!  I am far from the best there is at so many things.  Some people confuse my quest for Excellence as thinking that I think I don’t make mistakes.  I certainly do make mistakes, but because of my attitude, I likely work harder to not repeat mistakes than others that don’t have this mindset.  Mistakes are a very important part of learning and you can’t learn from them if you don’t recognize them.  I must confess I get mad if I repeat my own mistakes though.

If you haven’t read the short but EXCELLENT book about the FISH Philosophy, I highly recommend it.  It applies to everyone and will help you realize what attitudes you are choosing.

This is why Excellence is achievable, because it is an attitude, and as you may read in FISH or my other blogs about FISH.

“Choose your Attitude”

Carpe diem!

 

Why Goals Fail

Being a “realist” helps create worthy goals and many confuse what they wish to accomplish as the targeted goal in place of what will actually have a valuable contribution or a permanent solution to the issue.  Many look at problem solving as a bandaid, as a method to get them by or kick the can rather than finding the root cause to eliminating the issue.  The only real solution is to stop a problem at its source and many spend their time on goals that don’t address the problem at its source, they focus on various symptoms.

Having been inundated with blogs and newsletters  since the end of December about how to manage yourself to create goals, I felt the need to tell you why most of what you have read this year falls short and that if you follow them, how your goals may fall short also.

There are really only a few steps in the process of goal setting but before any of it starts you need to ensure two things;

    1) Is the person looking at the problem able to see the root cause?

    2)  Does the proposed goal eliminate the root cause of the problem?

If not, go back and keep trying until you can answer yes to both.

Once you have a worthy goal, use the old but proven “S.M.A.R.T. Goal” acronym for planning your goal.  I am sure you know the one; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time based. It not only works, it works really well.  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel looking for a quicker, easier, or sexier way.  This has been used by the largest, most efficient companies throughout the world for decades, yet some blogger somewhere has come up with a new, better way?  Even if it sounds boring, do it the proven way because at the end of the day (or year)

it’s about the results isn’t it?

The last thing you need and the reason why your goals may fail this year boils down to one word: accountability.  Who is holding you accountable for these?  Yourself, a Supervisor, a spouse?  While we don’t like to believe this, few of us have the self discipline to make sure we follow the plans we make to the letter.  It is easy (and human) to make adjustments as you go which changes a goal and lessens the positive effect these actions will ultimately have on you, your business or your family.  Some how you feel justified doing it at the time, but at the end of the year, the problem still exists. You’ve either shifted your goal or accomplished part of it and let yourself off the hook.

A partial goal should be considered a failure.  If not, why set the goal in the first place?

Being accountable to someone changes that by increasing the rate of success.

Questioning someone on the progress of a planned goal makes them pay attention.  It is human nature to not feel comfortable when reporting that you did not complete something.  Discussing the obstacles you encounter with an Accountability Partner can help considerably to keep you on track.  When goal setting with my clients or employee’s I always recommend an “Accountability Partner”(usually me, but I can be tough) someone to periodically report milestones to or be questioned by to help maintain the focus on results.  A good Accountability Partner will continually ask about results even if you didn’t have any at the last meeting.  They don’t need to be an expert on the subject, they just need to follow up and get you talking about it.  Think squeaky wheel…

Easy right? Here is a recap-

You want your goals to work?  Remember these 3 things

  • Does the goal solve the problem?
  • Is it planned correctly (SMART)
  • Is it managed correctly (Accountability)

 

Carpe diem!

 

Click here to contact  C.S.Simons Consulting for a FREE template to help you establish and organize your goal setting process.