Do You Pass The Leadership Test?

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KEY POINTS:

  1. Be a positive role model.
  2. Take responsibility and give credit.
  3. Communication is the top priority

IN A NUTSHELL

What is it like to work for a person with good leadership skills? With a good leader you are inspired to work hard and perform well for that person. You feel respect and function smoothly as a team to produce excellent results.

A good leader is a role model for his/her employees.

BE A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL

Employees watch what the leader is doing. It could be good or bad. For example, if the supervisor arrives late for work every day, some night think that it is OK for them to copy this behavior. Others would consider this to be a negative behavior. Sometimes it is easy to forget that people are looking at your every move.

WORK HARD AND WELL

Again, you need to set the example. If you work hard, it is likely that they will too. If you work well, you set the standard for them. Laziness and incompetence are bad traits for a manager.

BE AWARE OF WHAT IS GOING ON

Keep up with developments around you. That includes those above you and below you as well. The policy of “no surprises” is a good one. At the same time, be on the alert for jobs well done and tasks poorly executed. Let your people know that you know

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND GIVE CREDIT

Take the responsibility when things go wrong. Do not get into the blame game. Mistakes happen. Work to correct what is wrong without getting angry and blaming others.

On the other hand, for successes, make sure that the credit is distributed generously. Don’t take credit for what others have done. Make it clear who deserves the praise. Your people will love you for this quality.

COMMUNICATE,COMMUNICATE,COMMUNICATE

You primary job may be to communicate clearly and honestly with those around you.

LOOK FOR TALENT

Your employees can be a rich source of skills and talents. It is up to you to mine this resource by knowing your people well.

How to Keep in the Loop

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Connect!

KEY POINTS:

1.Give and get information

2. Be careful about rumors

3. Don’t isolate yourself

IN A NUTSHELL

The result of your being in the loop means having timely and useful information. You are part of the information system within the company. If you never seem to know what is going on, watch out! Here is what you need to do:

THE IMPORTANCE OF INFORMATION

It is important for your career to know what is going on in the company. Is there a big new contract coming up? Is the CEO leaving? Are big changes in your department under consideration? This is  just a sample of what you need to know. If you are in the loop, you have a good idea of what is going on. Sometimes your boss will keep you informed, but not always.

BUILD YOUR NETWORK

Ask people from your team or others to lunch or for a coffee. Attend company sponsored social events. Go to the break room at least once in a while. Stop and chat with people on your way to your office.

STUDY THE POLITICS AND CULTURE OF THE COMPANY

Your networking should offer some good tips about the structure of the culture of the company. Look for people who always seem to have valuable information. Sit back and think about who are the people who have the CEO’s ear, who get the prize assignments, or who seem to get promoted.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Read the annual report of your company and any other articles that may appear in journals or other publications about your industry and your company. Find out about the background of the top people- check out their biographies. Ask yourself some questions like “Where is this company going in the future or what new products/services are being introduced?” Then ask around to see if you can get some answers.

BE CAREFUL ABOUT RUMORS

In some companies information is tightly held. Then employees may fill the vacuum with rumors. These may be false, partly true or totally true. Analyze what you hear, be skeptical and try not to forward any rumor that you suspect to be untrue.

BE AN INFORMATION GIVER

This can be a little difficult. If your job allows you to have certain confidential information, you need to honor that commitment. On the other hand, you can share information that you know to be true of a more general nature.

How to Say “No” to Extra Work

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo……

KEY POINTS:

  1. Be Clear about your agenda
  2. Explain why you are saying “No”
  3. Practice

In a Nutshell:

You can’t say yes to everything. Nor can you say no all the time. There is a balance and in business it is important to know when to agree to do something and when you can say that you can’t Here are some suggestions:

  1. Check your calendar

Before you agree, tell the person that you have to check your calendar to see if time is available. Respond quickly and explain why, if it is no, you cannot take on the assignment.

  • Be clear about your boundaries

Establish in your mind your priorities and limits. Let people know what they are.

  • Know the areas of competence of your colleagues

It may well be that the assignment is within the scope of someone else. Point that out. This also prevents you from invading the territory of another person and causing problems.

  • Ask for time to consider the request

Train yourself to say “Let me think about it,” or “I’ll get back to you.” Most reasonable people will give you time to consider the offer.

  • Negotiate.

Make it clear that if you take on this assignment, you will have to give something else up.

  • Consider who is making the request

Does this person have the right to ask you to take on an additional assignment? If it is not your boss, tell the person that you will have to consult with your supervisor before you agr

Giving Bad News As A Manager

Be Careful!

KEY POINTS:

  • DON’T TELL STORIES
  • DON’T BLAME OTHERS
  • DO SUGGEST POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

You have to tell your boss the bad news: you missed the deadline, a bad mistake, you lost the contract, etc. It is critical to do it well—your career might just depend on how you handle these situations. Here are some suggestions:

START OFF WITH THE BAD NEWS

The very worst thing you can do is tell your boss a long story ending with the bad news. Start with “I have some bad news….” Then get right to it, “we lost the contract,” “we are being sued,”” we can’t meet the deadline,” and so on.

DON’T WAIT

It is tempting to put off doing something painful or unpleasant. Do it as soon as you have all the information.

DON’T BLAME ANYONE

Avoid criticizing members of your staff or other departments.

ACCEPT THE RESPONSIBILITY

You are much wiser to take responsibility for what happened. Your boss, if he or she is any good, will know exactly why it happened and who did it.

SUGGEST SOME SOLUTIONS

Have some ideas on how to resolve the problem. The focus of your discussion with your boss should be on what to do next.

How to Avoid Conflicts in Your Office

BE A PEACEMAKER

KEY POINTS:

  1. Conflicts are  inevitable.
  2. Be  alert to conflicts among your staff
  3. Be ready to take a role in resolving them

Conflicts are inevitable in the workplace. However, if they continue without resolution, they will damage staff morale and affect productivity. To ensure a smoothly running department, it is important that you pay attention to these matters. You have to be alert and keep your ears to the ground.

Therefore, as a manager, you may need to take a role in helping your employees manage the conflicts that arise. You need to communicate very well and be sensitive to the personalities of those involved and the culture of the workplace. Here are some suggestions:

Act quickly to resolve the problem

It is easy to postpone getting involved in settling a conflict. You hope that the parties will work it out themselves. That doesn’t usually happen. Instead, it is better to deal with the problem sooner than later, especially if you can arrive at a satisfactory solution.

Investigate and get all the facts

Try to get as much information as you can before you start the process of resolving the conflict. You may find that some people will come to you voluntarily to offer information and opinion. Use your observation skills to keep track of what is going on.

Get the parties to agree as to what is the problem

Meet the parties first on a one to one basis. Your purpose is to get a clear view  of what the problem is from both sides  without conflict and emotional outbursts. From these conversations, you are trying to get each side to define the problem.

Brainstorm different solutions

By now you should have lots of information. Now bring the two parties together in a neutral and private location where you will not be interrupted. State the problem as you see it and ask both sides to brainstorm possible solutions. Make it clear that this situation cannot continue and the alternative would be a more drastic solution imposed by management.

Arrive at a solution that solves the problem and, hopefully, is win-win.

Both parties should be motivated. You want to make sure that each side is at least moderately satisfied so that the conflict will not interfere with operations.

Make Feedback Your Friend As a Manager

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Communicate

KEY POINTS:

  1. Give Feedback  in many different ways: verbally and non-verbally.
  2. Feedback affects performance
  3. Watch carefully for opportunities to give feed back

Feedback is communication. In the business world feedback refers to the information that is received from a supervisor to a subordinate regarding performance either of a particular task or in general.

This information could be passed in various ways, verbally, non-verbally, as feelings or as fact. If you are a supervisor, it is important to remember that your employees are always looking  for some sign of approval or disapproval. Take this into account when you are in their presence. This may have an impact on their performance.

Be particularly careful with negative feedback. If you observe something that you do not like, discuss the matter with the employee in private. Criticism in front of other employees is bad for morale, but also for your image.

Good feedback on the other hand builds trust and reinforces the belief that you notice when good work takes place.

GIVING GOOD FEEDBACK

Keep it simple. Make sure your message is easily understood. This is important when you are dealing in English, which is not your native language. Use words that are appropriate to your audience. For example, do not use technical words when talking to a non-technical person.

Negative communication

When you are not happy with someone’s performance, try to criticize his/ her behavior, not the person. In addition, do so in private so that the person is not embarrassed in front of his/her co-workers.

Observe Carefully

In this case, your eyes are your best friends. Observe carefully what is going on. That way you will know who is deserving of praise, and who needs correction. This will help you build trust among your employees. Watch the body language of your employees.

Ask Questions

A good question is worth a lot. It shows your interest in what is happening. It gives you some vital information, and it shows that you understand what is going on. Be ready with some good questions.

Hold Back

Sometimes it is better to stay silent. You may observe behavior that makes you angry and the first impulses to jump in and tell the person off. It is better to back away, cool off, and handle the situation more professionally. But, it does need to be dealt with right away.

Be Impartial

It is natural to like some people more than others. Even so, this should not influence your use of this tool. Remember, it must be even handed. Praising a favorite while neglecting the good work of someone you don’t like will diminish your credibility.

How to Ask for a Pay Raise

I Want More Money!

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KEY POINTS:

  1. Know how to approach your boss.
  2. Do your research.
  3. Organize your presentation

It may well be that you deserve more money than you presently receive. Many factors come into play when you ask your boss for an increase in your salary. Just as with any other business decision, you will have to be ready to prove that you deserve more money. You have to prepare well. Here are some suggestions to consider before you ask.

TIMING IS IMPORTANT

Most companies have a cycle for making annual increases. If you want a pay raise above  normal, you need to contact your boss well beforehand.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Before meeting with your boss, find out what is the going rate for people in your position. You can use resources such as Payroll, Glassdoor and Salary.com on the internet. In addition, you could inquire of recruiters and others in a similar position.

PREPARE YOUR PITCH

It is important to be ready to make your case to your boss. You need to show that you are producing well beyond the expectations for someone in your position. In other words, you have significantly added value to the company. For example, you earned more profit, cut costs significantly, got a fat new contract, etc. In this regard, it is useful to keep a record of your significant accomplishments to use when you need it.

PRACTICE YOUR PITCH

This is important. You need to prepare by practicing what you will say in this meeting.

ASK FOR A PROMOTION INSTEAD

It may be that you are performing functions well out of the requirements for your position. Therefore, instead of asking for a raise, you could ask for a promotion to a new level or a new position.

KNOW HOW MUCH TO ASK FOR

Find out what is the normal increase that is given every year. This could come from fellow employees. For example, maybe everyone receives a  2% increase. You want to ask for more than this, perhaps a 5% increase depending on the situation.

BE PREPARED TO RECEIVE A “NO”.

There are many reasons why you may receive a negative response to your request. If that happens, don’t argue, but do ask what you need to do to receive a pay raise for the next time.

How to Hire Great People and Succeed

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KEY POINTS:

  1. Hiring good people is a key factor in your success
  2. Think carefully about what you want
  3. Look for People you like

Hiring great people means success for a manager. It is not easy to do. In fact many fail at this task. This is a skill that you need to develop

It all starts with you and your personal values. What do you want tom accomplish? Give a lot of thought to this. Before you hire, know what you want. Think about what type of person fits with your team and the goals you are trying to achieve. Skills are important, of course. But, I believe that attitude and compatibility are even more important.

Keep on the lookout for the right people. They might be in another department, another company. You might meet them at a conference.

It may be hard to get the right people through traditional channels. Consider creative ways to recruit the team that will bring you success.

Listed below are some suggestions based on my experience as a manager and as a professor that may help:

Know what you need.

This sounds obvious, but many people fail right here. Exactly what is it that you need? Does your organization have a problem that needs to be solved? It is essential to be very clear on this point.

Hire someone you like.

Let’s say that you have several candidates for a position. Maybe one is even better qualified than the others, but you don’t feel comfortable with him/her. Another candidate is less qualified, but you do get along with that person. Logically, you would choose the best qualified candidate. I disagree. I have always believed in valuing compatibility over skills since you have to have a good working relationship with that person. Of course, you may have to justify your decision.

Are they trainable?

Every company has its own way of doing things. Look for indications that the person you want to hire is adaptable. (See Interviewing for Managers)Remember the motivation to learn and to make changes is needed for the current business environment.

Do They Get on Well with Others?

Will his/her personality fit in well with the others? Multiple interviews involving different levels of your company may be useful. Sometimes, it is difficult to get honest reactions, but listen carefully to what others have to say.

Do you value creativity and initiative?

Great employees have these qualities. They will not go to work for someone who does not value these characteristics. If they do accept a job, they will not stay if the conditions are not right.

Should You recruit someone you know?

I have done it and it worked well. Keep your eyes open in your own company for good prospects. The best person might be right under your nose. Sometimes you can offer him/ her a better opportunity. Go for it!

Are You a Hard Working Manager and Not Getting Noticed?

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Visibility or getting noticed at the office is essential if you want to be recognized for your excellent work. More than that, it is also necessary so that you can get promoted and take on interesting new assignments. All this happens only if they have you in their minds.

A lot of us, me included, think that if we do a good job and work hard, we will be rewarded. We hate to beat our own drums.  This is especially true if you come from another culture. Unfortunately, life is not always fair. Here are a few suggestions to help you advance your career and maintain your dignity.

BUILD A NETWORK

There is an old saying: “If you want a friend, be a friend.”

In this case, it means help others and they will help you. Then you will have visibility.

Build alliances with people throughout the company. When some exciting new project comes up they will tell you or even recommend you. You do the same for them. Listen to shop talk and contribute your part.

Take the time to sit down at lunch or a coffee break and talk with a wide range of your fellow employees. Even, go out for a drink after work. Don’t just sit at your desk.

ANALYZE WHAT THE COMPANY NEEDS

Try to figure out where the company is going and what skills will be needed. Think about how you could contribute in areas where there will be a shortage. Make sure that you are ready to advance with the company to the next level. That will add to your visibility if you make sure that people know what you are thinking.

Try to combine competences. For example, if you are a specialist in IT, see if you can develop a soft or non-technical skill like coaching. Be flexible and willing to take on challenging new assignments.

DOCUMENT YOUR WORK

Keep a record of all the work you do. Collect compliments from satisfied clients or supervisors. Make sure that you have a handy way to refresh your mind regarding your accomplishments. When it is time for a performance appraisal or writing a new resume, you will be ready to show exactly what you have been doing.

BE PATIENT

Build a long term view of your career and where you want to do with it.

LOOK FOR A MENTOR

Few people get to the top without the help of some that are already there. Look for someone who could take an interest in your career. It has to be someone who likes you and is impressed with your ability. You in turn may be able to help that person. Then, when the time comes, and you are in that upper level, give someone else a boost.

COMPETENCE COUNTS

All your efforts to succeed will collapse unless you do competent work. Keep up to date in your field and add new skills. This includes being a good people person.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  1. RELATIONSHIPS COUNT
  2. ADD VALUE TO YOUR COMPANY
  3. BE PATIENT

How to Handle Complaints and Keep Your Clients Smiling

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Key Points

  1. Have a system to deal with complaints
  2. Train your staff carefully
  3. Make this a priority

Do you hate to get complaints from your customers or clients? In a business, it is almost impossible to avoid getting complaints. However, it is important how you deal with them. An unhappy customer will do you damage. On the other hand, a happy customer is an asset.

This assumes a complaint by telephone, but it can also be adapted to customers in person:

Here is a time tested way to handle complaints from customers something you should follow and train your staff to use.

1. GREET AND REASSURE THE CALLER

Step one is to identify your company, yourself and ask how you can help. At this point, the caller may be emotional so reassure him/her that you are there to help. Remain calm and pleasant. As soon as possible, go to step 2.

2. ASK FOR THE DETAILS

Now question the caller to get the details of the problem. It is helpful to write down the information. Make sure you get all the details. go to step 3.

3. LISTEN AND EMPATHIZE

It is important to listen carefully. Repeat back any information such as numbers to be sure that you have the correct information. Express empathy and understanding for the feelings of frustration of the caller. This should not be an adversarial encounter. Go to Step 4

4. SUGGEST POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

Depending on company policy, suggest possible solutions to the problem. Make sure the customer fully understands the choices available. If at all possible, do not refer the person to another department, but try to take ownership of the problem

5. AGREE ON A COURSE OF ACTION

Now get the customer to agree on the best solution to the problem. This may take some selling because the customer may not get all that he/she wants.