Beyond Teambuilding

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Management Made Simple

The following forms part of some feedback from a 3-hour session with a Management Team whereby we reviewed feedback for a Team Climate Survey and discussed the impact on management and what simple steps we could take to add more value to the role we play as Managers.

 Why Management?

Need to understand what is expected of us in a MGT role. MGT is only required if a team is unable to manage itself. Why is a team unable to manage itself?

  • No clear goals or defined deliverables
  • No processes to follow
  • Not trained or enabled to follow processes or do the jobs required
  • Inconsistent expectations of quality
  • Uncomfortable working environment
  • Inappropriate work environment
  • Unruly or badly-behaved work colleagues
  • No support or trust

There are more but these are the things MGT need to ensure are in place, consistently applied and supported. This also defines WHAT MGT should be doing.

Beyond Teambuilding pride ourselves in creating events, activities and challenges that push any team past mediocrity, allowing them to express themselves in a way that unleashes a team synergy that is often lying dormant. Our teambuilding is done in two definitive ways; formal and informal. Both have merit and are used to create the specific objectives of your particular team’s needs.

We then went onto the HOW?

For all intents and purposes, text books are full of the HOW to manage; so I suggest read, read and read some more. We used the feedback from the survey to look at more specific HOWs.

  1. The survey is a means to allow MGT to understand what the concerns are of the team. Most concerns are not real but are perceptions as to what people ‘think” are real. If MGT acts proactively, most of the perceptions can be eradicated long before they become problems.
  2. The team does not have one focused concern or even weakness, and it appears as if there is an environment of either individualism or “cliques” within the organisation.
  3. Openness in communication will only occur what we create an environment where there is NO FEAR. Staff should not feel that they cannot express their opinion without being belittled or blamed, or speak or report the truth without being “targeted” This has to start with MGT asking for the truth, asking for opinions and actively listening and showing appreciation for such behaviour. When staff sense that such openness is appreciated and will not be punished, it will become a work ethic and become your culture.
  4. We spoke of the Conflict Sandwich as a means of dealing with issues of misguided behaviour, poor or inappropriate performance and differences of opinion. We identify the act or behaviour that we feel does not fit our culture, be very clear of this and don’t mix it with others. Deal with this in a linear mode.
    • Ask the staff member to meet in a non-threatening area (not opposite your desk where you impose a threat to start with)
    • Start the conversation with a positive statement about the persons contribution to the company or a compliment to their relationship with you in particular. This will take away the perception that there is going to be a blaming session.
    • After the appreciation, bring up the issue and explain how it affected you both as a manager or as a fellow worker. Ensure you give the person a chance to clarify the issue as factual or not. You will not be able to correct a situation if the staff member is in denial about the situation. Once you have this “fact” don’t dwell too long but move straight into the correction.
    • The correction should not be you telling but should be you asking how you think it could be resolved or fixed. If a person owns the solution, they tend to be more responsible for its implementation.
    • Don’t leave until you agree, once you do agree, thank the staff member and offer your support.
    • Follow this up in writing and do a recap soon after to ensure all is corrected.
  5. When identifying anything that doesn’t agree with you, make sure you are not making a mountain out of a mole hill. Check with your peers about how important that issue really is, what is the worst that could happen to you or the organisation, the latter being the more important.
  6. Where possible, invite the full team into give ideas or find solutions to internal issues. You are merely the catalyst to discussion and ideas, you are however responsible for the implementation and successful role out of agreed processes or initiatives. Always give feedback of the success or not of agreed internal ideas.
  7. TRUST is a problem in all teams as it forms the basis of our ability to delegate and request or give support to others. Without trust we become an organisation of DIY people with no synergies resulting from teamwork or collaboration.
    • To trust someone, they need to be both smart/competent and reliable. It has to be both because they go hand in hand. It is no good if someone is extremely competent to do a job but they don’t bother pitching up or bothering to deliver.
    • Competency and reliability will depend on the RISK of failure and the consequences of that failure. As a manager, you need to apply your thought process to this all the time when delegating work to staff. If not, you will be relying on “blind faith!”
    • TRUST is not mutual! Just because I trust someone, does not mean they have to trust me. Trust is dependent upon the task or challenge at hand.
    • To be of value to an organisation, you need to be trusted more, and by more. An individual’s worth increases exponentially when they are deemed “the only person I can trust for this!”
    • If given TRUST, remember it has been earned by being and doing the right things, don’t destroy it by being inconsistent or by having an “off day”. TRUST is very difficult to get back once lost.
    • A title gives someone an indication as to what they should expect from you. So, if your title is that of MANAGER, revert to WHY MANAGEMNT and ensure you are all these things and more.
  8. Decision making is something managers and staff are actively involved in every day. The better the decision the more likely the outcome will be favorable. However, in order for a decision to be favorably implemented, it needs others who need time, information, training, motivation and skills to actually do this!
    • If we delay a decision too long, it places pressure on the implementors. This is unfair.
    • If we decide too early, the decision may be missing some logic and again could result in a poor outcome.
    • It is important again to understand the consequences and risks involved in the decision and resultant outcomes as this will guide you in the level of trust you place in the information gathered and the people who need to implement such.
    • When in doubt just communicate your concerns and await opinions.
  9. Look for tell-tale signs of “busy for busy sake”. People don’t like looking idle so they can and will fill up the day with stuff that can look good but is often unnecessary and time filling.
    • As a manager get into the habit of engaging staff about their work
    • Don’t come across as threatening. E.g. Don’t say “what the hell are you doing?” Rather, “Hi Bill, I sense that what you are doing is pretty important, talk to me about what it is?” As the conversation engages, you can move to discussing WHY we do this specific job? Then move towards asking “Bill, if I asked you to do this job the smartest way possible, how would you change it?” And then you listen and you will be amazed at what transpires.
    • Sometimes you will be frustrated by “but why didn’t he say that before?” Again, fear of change, fear of upsetting what is perceived as managements way!
    • Acknowledge smartness and do it regularly
  1. Dealing with a person’s worth.
    • Most people believe they deserve more
    • The challenge for a manager is to give staff that opportunity without destroying their dreams or aspirations.
    • G. if a person earns R 10k but thinks they deserve R 20k per month, firstly ask them why they believe they are not getting the R 20k. This will either result in a Manager not seeing their worth or having a misperception of their worth. At this stage you do not challenge the reality as this will destroy the productivity of the conversation.
    • Next discuss what the staff member thinks the Employer would need to see more of to see the value in the R 20k per month?
    • Next ask them what steps they think they could introduce to their own work repertoire that would help them become that R 20k person. Also ask what support or input they would need from others to get to this pinnacle in their career.
    • Be honest with the staff member in that if there is no need for that R 20 k person in the business, don’t lead them along to be that person and then deflate them with no opportunity to get a position to compliment that effort. Rather ‘cut them loose” so that they can grow , rather than try to keep them motivated in a constrained environment.
  2. Turn meetings into open discussions about things more important than just RESULTS and DELIVERABLES.
    • A manager is responsible for both results and the engagement of their people.
    • The results are an operational day-to-day functionality and usually look after themselves.
    • Be prepared to spend more time discussing how to become more engaged, what stops us being engaged, and use these discussions to strengthen your internal culture and work ethics.

There is more, lots more……

John Ingram

Director of Training

HiSide Group

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