I had a number of bosses in my time with McDonald’s - some great, some not so great. But each one of them taught me something about the sort of leader-manager I want to be and the sort of manager I definitely don’t want to be!
I remember one boss I had who was very black and white, who wanted everyone in her team to be the same, who never looked at the individual and the skills they brought to the team, but wanted them to be mini versions of herself. She was all about command and control, a micro-manager who used her position of power to bully people into doing things her way.
Happily, for me she was a one-off, an anachronism, a great example of how I was not going to manage my teams going forward, and I had plenty of great leaders around me to model. Others are not so lucky, and ‘grow up’ believing that being a manager is all about power and authority, about throwing your weight around - and the bullied become the bully.
There are a few manager stereotypes - you might recognise a couple from your own experience:
The Budgie (Everyone’s best friend)
This manager still wants to be one of the team. They hate confrontation and giving constructive feedback and would rather ignore poor standards than talk to one of the team, no matter the consequences. They often work late to help out the team or to correct mistakes they’ve made. They still know all the gossip and will often be the team’s agony aunt. They want to be everyone’s best friend first and their manager second.
The Woodpecker (Micromanager)
This manager is obsessed with the details - everything has to be perfect and ‘just so’. Mistakes get on their nerves because their team should be able to get it right by now. They want reports at every stage of a project, and will regularly check up on the team to see what they’re doing and that tit’s being done exactly as they would do it.
The Peacock (Aloof/Hands-Off Manager)
This manager operates from a distance. They give minimal information to the team about what they want and then leave them to get on with it. If things go well they take the credit, if things go badly they blame the team. They’re rarely around for advice or support. Always out of the office or in meetings with the boss. They don’t get involved in the day to day because they don’t see it as their job - they have people to deal with all that.
The Seagull (Non-stick Manager)
This is the manager who swoops in, dumps all over everyone and then flies off again. They are erratic, poorly prepared and extremely arrogant, and damage team morale by treating them like idiots, talking down to them, and blaming everyone else for their failures. When things turn out badly or they run into a problem, they swoop in to assign blame and then become the hero by sorting it out.
The Eagle (Inspirational Leader)
This is the well respected manager that the team would walk through fire for. They’re inspirational, firm but fair, and hands-on when they’re needed. They do what they say they’ll do, and are always straight with their team who know exactly where they stand. They give credit whenever possible, and when there’s a problem, they take responsibility. Always looking to develop their team and better their leadership skills, they have a great relationship with their boss.
They are the leader-manager we all aspire to be every day.
Do one thing: Have a think about the managers and leaders that you’ve experienced. Who have you loved working with or admired, and why? Who have you hated working for or been glad you didn’t, and why? Then take a look at your own style, what are you happy with and what do you want to improve?
The 5 Management Styles are taken from my latest book 'Mission: To Manage' due for publication in July 2020.
Thanks for reading
Leader? Manager? or Hybrid?
The challenge for the small business owner (and yes, the photo is a long shot - A Labradoodle 'hybrid' - but who doesn't love the odd dog picture?!)
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch
There are many business owners who are inventors, creators, skilled in one specific area - perhaps that’s you. And you may not see yourself as a natural born leader; as someone who could inspire a team to walk through fire for them. Or maybe you’re an ‘accidental manager’ - someone who never wanted to manage people, but now finds themselves with a small team.
Back in the day, there was a very clear distinction between a leader and a manager. In a nutshell, leaders were considered to do all of the strategy and big picture thinking, while managers did all of the organising of resources and looked after execution of the strategy. In the corporate world, this can often still be the case, but in the world of the successful small business, there is a very real need for leaders to be managers, and vice versa.
The view still exists today that management skills can be learned whereas leadership is less tangible; more an ability that you’re either born with, or you’re not.
I’m a firm believer that anyone with the will, can learn and develop leadership skills just as they can learn and develop management skills.
Yes, I think without doubt, some people are born leaders; they have a charisma and an energy about them that can’t be taught or learned. Some come from backgrounds where there were no positive role models and yet they still emerge to inspire and lead others. And there are many types of leader; take Ghandi for instance who galvanised a nation by his quiet example and perseverance.
But I know equally, that you can learn leadership behaviours. And it’s fair to say that charisma on its own, without the leadership behaviours to match it, can be a dangerous thing. Remember Bill Clinton? He is a great example of a man with amazing charisma and energy, who was a little flawed when it came to being a leader.
So what are the qualities of a great leader? Here are my personal top 7:
Every manager needs to be a leader and every leader needs to be a manager. In your role as a leader you’ll make sure that your team know where they’re going, that they feel comfortable, that they grow as people and contribute to achieving team goals.
But people need structure to succeed. So as a manager you need the skills to organise your team’s activity and make best use of the resources you have to deliver on your goals. A manager without leadership skills won’t optimise their team’s potential. On the other hand, a leader without management skills will be chaotic and drive their team mad.
Great leaders are also managers because they understand the best way to harness their team to get the work done to achieve their goals.
Great managers are also leaders because they know how to make best use of their own skills and talent and more importantly how to get the best out of every individual in their team to deliver even greater results.
All of these skills and behaviours can be learned. But there is one last quality I’d like to share that marks out a leader/manager who is committed to being as good as they can be: The willingness to ask for help
“What is the bravest thing you've ever said”? asked the boy.
“Help!” said the horse.
Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Don’t ever be too afraid or too proud to ask for it.
Do one thing: think about your role as a leader manager. What skills or behaviours do you need to develop so you’re better able to grow your team? What help might you need?
Thanks for reading.
I love Vera. I love her complex character played by the great Brenda Blethyn, the people in her CID team and of course gorgeous Durham and Northumberland. And the storylines are just perfect Sunday night viewing, for me anyway.
Whereas she has got some great qualities as a leader (more of that later), when it comes to her management style, I have to take issue with a few things.
First of all I frequently find myself saying ‘please’ out loud as she gives another directive to the team. Now I don’t know if this is how the police operate since it is a command and control structure. I have no experience of working in an environment where people have to call me ‘ma’am’ but even if you do give out orders, I still think you could add a ‘please’.
I know in the police, the armed forces and the operating theatre there will be times that you need to snap an order in the quickest possible time because of the urgency of the situation. By the time a surgeon has asked, "Would you mind awfully passing me a scalpel please", the patient might have died. So ‘scalpel’ has to be barked out, and that seems reasonable.
The thoughts of the army shouting, "Fire! please," wouldn't be quite right either. But I just wonder then, if someone is used to operating like this, say in the NHS (no pun intended!), how easy it is to revert to a more collaborative or even merely polite style in everyday situations. If anyone has worked in this type of environment I’d love to know what your experience is.
When my dad ran his coal business I don’t think he would ever have got his lads together to ask how they should do something. His was very much ‘do this or that’ and that style was very much of it’s time. But my experience at McDonald’s and with clients since, has shown me how much more people buy in and take ownership when they’re treated like adults and are involved in establishing and developing the ‘one right way’ for an exceptional customer journey.
The other thing I wonder about with Vera is how she treats her team individually. The long-suffering Kenny receives a fair bit of rib-pulling and mockery which a less robust individual could wilt under. And then I’m never sure about how fairly she treats them. Which would I rather do, get driven round the countryside in a gorgeous old Defender, meeting potential suspects or look through six hours worth of CCTV footage? Mmm tough one that. So maybe Aiden her sidekick is a higher rank than the others but if not, the others could feel hard done by.
And there’s the dilemma for business owners or managers. How to keep people sweet when you probably do prefer some of your team members to others or when someone is great at a role but which they find maybe boring or unsatisfying. Do you change roles round to keep people happy and potentially lose effectiveness or productivity? How do you ensure you’re not playing favourites even subconsciously?
If you have a ‘one right way’ of doing tasks in your business, it is much easier to train people up, to multi-skill. That is one of the ways where people can develop and have variety in their work. You may also uncover a diamond, and people over time have a chance to develop niche roles if that’s what you’re looking for. As for playing favourites, I think you just have to ‘police’ yourself :)
So that’s two things I don’t like, but there are a couple of things about Vera as a manager that I absolutely love. Firstly she really really cares about the victim whoever they are and secondly she perseveres until she succeeds.
So despite some of her management short-comings, I will continue to be a huge fan of Vera and tune in every Sunday night.
Do one thing: watch Vera and see what you think about how she manages her team and then think about your own style. Are there any similarities or things you’d like to improve?
Thanks for reading.
Image property of the Radio Times
Much as I love the words ‘please', ‘thankyou’ and ‘sorry’, there’s another word out there that can make a big difference.
It’s a principle of human behaviour that if you’re asking for a favour, you’ll be more successful if you give the reason why. If you’re asking people to do something they like to know why they should.
A psychologist Ellen Langer carried out a simple experiment on the power of ‘because’, back in the day. She asked if she could go ahead of a large queue of students waiting to use the xerox machine (before the digital age) to make 5 copies. When she offered no reason, 60% let her cut in. When she explained, “because I’m in a rush” people letting her cut in significantly increased to 94%
Now you could think that people had done her the favour since “being in a rush” was a valid reason but she tried a third time using ‘because’ but with a feeble reason: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” Once again 93% complied.
The researchers surmised it was not the reason as a whole, but the word ‘because’ that made the difference. This was true even when the reason was not very compelling. They theorised that people go on automatic behaviour as a form of short-cut, and that hearing the word “because” followed by a reason, no matter how feeble, increased the likelihood of compliance.
They repeated the experiment for a request to copy 20 pages rather than 5. In that case, only the “because I’m in a rush” reason resulted in a heightened figure.
So they summarised: “When the stakes are low people will engage in automatic behaviour. If your request is small, follow your request with the word "because" and give a reason - any reason. If the stakes are high, then there could be more resistance, but still not too much.”
This has got application for management, sales, trying to get your kids off their phones or trying to queue jump when you’re in a rush. (I wonder if “Now wash your hands” followed with “because x y z..” would work!)
This is the reason why we advocate developing ‘how to’s’ which not only explain or demonstrate the ‘one right way’ to do the task but also explain the reasons behind that process. So useful too when you're training new people in that task that they understand the 'because'. People respond much better knowing the reasons and benefits rather than just being told what to do. (And of course being involved in establishing the ‘one right way’ increases buy in even more.)
Now the question is, "Is ‘because’ still as powerful today; after all, the research was from 1978?"
Do one thing: Try the power of ‘because’ and see if it works either in a ‘safe’ environment or, if you’re feeling brave, try it next time you’re in the queue at a coffee shop….
I would love to hear how you get on. I’m going to experiment too just not sure how brave I’ll be!
Thanks for reading.
As featured here in HRD Connect
2020 will be a big year for new beginnings. How can leaders ensure their best people stay put?
A new decade can be a catalyst to kick-start your own journey to accomplish your life goals.
Members of your team who dream to be somewhere else and start their own business, move to the seaside or whatever they aspire to may well be more likely to up sticks this year, however those that do were never fully invested in your business anyway.
So, my question to you is, is the culture of your business a nurturing and positive culture, or is it stagnant and negative?
Do your team have a clear career progression plan, or do they drift along in the day-to-day seemingly ‘stuck’ in their job for life or until they leave? If it’s the later then worrying about the high turnover of your workforce increasing dramatically this year may be valid. If you have a low staff turnover and a happy team, you’re probably on the right track in terms of your business culture.
The real question here is: How do you improve your business culture?
If you want a culture of ownership and accountability, a positive and engaged workforce and lower staff turnover, ask yourself:
Hiring the right people
The ‘right’ people are those who share your values; who get what you are trying to achieve with your business; who see your vision and are inspired by it.
It’s important to immerse every new team member in your culture from day one. Tell them stories that demonstrate how people take ownership in your business, and how you empower and encourage everyone to make decisions and be accountable.
Show what your culture is through your actions: arriving on time, everyone greeting the new starter warmly, explaining your ‘rules of the game’ to them, and demonstrating your personal values through everything you say and do.
Engaging your people
A strong business culture relies on the whole team buying into it. If you’ve taken your time in hiring the right people you will have no problem in engaging them in your vision and goals for the business, and in your culture.
You have the right people, so involve them in finding solutions to problems, planning for the future, setting their own targets. If your current team is far from engaged, call a meeting and share your vision, help them to understand what they’re a part of and why they’re each so important. This isn’t an overnight thing, so keep sharing wins and positivity. Say thank you.
Develop simple, logical and repeatable systems, and train your team to follow them.
Help them to understand why consistency is so important. Make sure that they understand not only what is expected of them, but the high standard you expect them to perform to. Give them all of the information they need to do the job on their own, and then get out of their way and let them get on with it!
Monitoring and measuring performance
Engaging with great people is easy. But on occasion, you will get your hiring all wrong, and you’ll take on someone who just doesn’t fit your culture, your values or the ethos of your business and they will have to go. It may be that 2020 will be the catalyst for this anyway.
It’s always good to give people a second chance, and I’m personally very big on forgiveness, but when a second chance has been wasted, make sure that you have the performance management system in place to manage them out of the business if needs be.
The negative impact of someone who doesn’t fit is simply too great and, in a growing business with a small team, you simply can’t afford the consequences for your customers, your team and ultimately lost revenue and profit.
Have quarterly performance reviews, but at your annual performance review, build the following questions in:
With the members of your team who are the right fit and who are invested in your business and who can see themselves progressing, their answers to these questions will be detailed and show a will to progress up the ladder. They will ask for things from you.
You will also have your loyal ‘steady stayers’ who love their role and don’t wish to progress. This is ok too of course, some people aren’t naturally ambitious. However, still try to work out some sort of target and reward system for these team members and make them feel part of the journey.
Communicate Communicate Communicate
While your business is still growing, you are your business, you are the leader, and people will want to contact you personally – both your customers and the individuals in your team.
How you handle this will say a great deal about you and your business culture.
Communication is vital in any relationship. Your business simply can’t do without open and honest communication through channels that are clear and easy to use. If you want to build a culture of ownership and accountability it’s absolutely essential.
I don’t know about you but I love posts you see on social media about businesses going the extra mile for their customers. Delighting the Customer, going the extra mile, or as I heard it referred to as, Sprinkling the Pixie Dust, costs businesses very little but the repercussions, the return for just naturally putting their heart into service can be huge.
So I thought I’d share what happened to my sister recently. She was gutted to lose her prescription sunglasses and wanted an up-to-date prescription for their replacement. She opted for Specsavers (in Loughborough - to give them a plug) who had a free eye test, (being a true northerner :) ). They also do retinal checks for £25 so she thought she would check out white flashes she’d had in her eye. The optician could not have been more thorough and told her she had a retinal detachment and to get straight to eye casualty before they shut. My sister grabbed the referral letter and flew out in a state of anxiety to get there on time. Only later that night she remembered she had not paid.
The eye casualty confirmed the retinal detachment and next day lazered her eye. She got home that evening to find a message from her optician and she thought it would be just to remind her she’d forgotten to pay. But no; no mention of money, just her optician personally ringing to ask how she’d got on and hoping that she was okay. This for a first time customer who hadn’t paid her bill! On ringing to thank her and pay her bill, she was told that the bill had been voided. Guess who my sister will be going to from now on? And talk about fate; if she hadn’t lost her sunglasses….
As if that wasn’t enough, she was having a Tesco delivery that day and was saying to the taxi driver on the way home from hospital that she thought she’d be back just in time. The next minute her taxi driver is talking to his mate who delivers for Tesco to check if he was delivering to her, with a view to saying they were nearly there! As it was he was on a different route but again just such a thoughtful thing to do.
Great stories… great customer experience.
Do one thing: Sprinkle a little Pixie Dust for your customers.
Oh and if you happen to get white flashes in your eye when you switch the light off at night, may be worth getting them checked out!
I want to share an interesting conversation I had recently with a control freak. (I use that phrase because I used to be one too!)
Business Owners come to us for help to escape the day-to-day operation of their business, but the truth is that so many find it hard to let go of their role, even the small tasks.
Some believe that they are the only ones that can do a certain task to their exacting standards, and we come across this so often that a large part of our work is changing the mindset of the business owner to let them know that they can trust their team with the right systems in place. They can take a step back to work on growing their business, while it runs smoothly without them, or with only a little input from them.
A particular ‘control freak’ was telling me how he hates to delegate - doesn't trust his employees to do anything without some sort of supervision, because they cock things up, make mistakes, take longer to do the job than he would.
"I check EVERYTHING' he said, 'I don't want my customers to have anything but a perfect service’.
It's the perfect excuse for the control freak - “I’m not doing it for me, I'm doing it for my customers.”
Here's the thing, for those of you who recognise that you may be borderline, if not full-blown freaks, you’re keeping yourself stuck in a rut.
Just like the bindweed in your garden - you know the one with the pretty flower that pretends its trying to make your garden look lovely, while its tentacles set about destroying it? You too are strangling the growth of your people and your business.
You've forgotten that:
You've forgotten that all of the successful people you look up to have built their success on a bucketload of failures, and much bigger failures and mistakes than any of your people might make if you gave them their head.
You want to limit mistakes?
People want to learn and develop, they want to grow - it's much more of a motivator than money. Give them ownership of their job, help them to feel like they belong to something, that you're relying on them to help you build something that you can all be proud of.
I saw this quote on Facebook, and it is oh so true - 'A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust one another.'
Trust your people and build a high performing team, that runs your high performing business.
Get control of your freak. Pull out the bindweed that's stifling your business.
Do one thing: Want to see where you’re at right now? Complete our business effiency test:
Thanks for reading.
Your daily routine is the key to your personal productivity and effectiveness. It should be crammed full of habits that will maximise your focus and efficiency, and move you closer to achieving your big vision. If you’ve already sorted your to do list into, ‘ditch delegate or do’ then you’ll be focussing on those tasks which only you can do as a business owner. Now it’s a case of maximising your time.
I like the habit of planning my day the evening before (and my week on a Sunday evening). At the end of the day you’re usually very clear about what still needs to done, what the priorities are, what tomorrow’s priority will be. Advanced planning like this makes sure that you hit the ground running. It can also make for a better night’s sleep as you put tasks to bed!
Chunk your tasks
I recommend chunking your work into ninety-minute segments. This is a good timeframe for focus, and focus is the key word; don’t multi-task – if you’re going to work on a sales letter, work on it for the full ninety minutes, or until it’s done, if you can do it quicker.
Work out which part of the day you’re at your peak; for me it’s first thing in the morning, and use that ninety minutes to ‘eat your frog’ – i.e. do the thing that you don’t necessarily want to do, but that’s weighing you down mentally, because you know you really need to get it done. Just get focused and eat the damn frog….gulp! It’s a really good success habit to get into.
Set yourself mini deadlines, always good for those of us who like a bit of ‘last minute pressure’; make them ‘drop-dead’ lines too! Absolute must delivers!
Breaks are always a good deadline. Holidays are also excellent. Ever noticed how much more you get done in the days leading up to a holiday, or the minutes leading up to any deadline. Both breaks and holidays are essential for your long-term productivity too – refreshing and re-energising your mind and body. The most successful businessmen and women really get this and have made breaks, long and short, a habit they will always keep.
Other daily routines and success habits that are good for your mind and body include taking at least thirty minutes exercise a day even if it’s just a walk down the road and back and drinking plenty of water – two litres is the recommended amount, isn’t it? I’m no scientist, but I can testify to the power of a lunchtime walk for clearing your head and re-charging you up for a productive afternoon.
Do one thing: take a look at your existing routines and decide if they need a tweak.
Thanks for reading :)
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.” Zig Ziglar
In a recent blog I asked you to look at your to do list and sieve it into Ditch Delegate or Do. So now you have a new to do list which reflects those tasks which as a business owner you need to do yourself. Now to maximise your productivity, Focus is the key!
Even with a clear vision, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the mountain of ideas, tactics and goals that might lead us towards its achievement. So we need a way to chunk the mountain down into smaller more manageable hills. I call these smaller hills my Focus Areas!
The corporates may look on them as strategies, some may think of them simply as priorities. The name doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you have them – that you take your mountain, look at what it’s made up of, and group similar goals, ideas and tactics together.
Remember though, this is all about focus, so you can’t have a dozen focus areas, it kind of defeats the object of the exercise. Four or five, maximum six, will keep you properly focused and make your planning and delivery a whole lot easier. For example, McDonald’s focus on People, Place, Promotion, Price, Product.
So, what will be yours? When you are clear what your focus areas are, and what you want each focus area to deliver for you, your aim or intention, you can then begin to develop fully focused goals and plans.
The Urgency and Importance Matrix
Another strategy which really works for me is this simple 4 box matrix which enables you to prioritise:
Box 1 Urgent but not important - these may be urgent for someone else but not important to you, they may be small things you can quickly get done and out of the way or allocate small bites of time at the end of the day.
Box 2 Important but not urgent - these are tasks which are really important for which you need to allocate quality time. You have a deadline but it’s not today or tomorrow.
Box 3 Urgent and important - these are the tasks you need to prioritise. You need to get them done today or tomorrow and you need quiet time to concentrate on getting them right.
Box 4 Not important not urgent - this should be empty! If you find yourself allocating tasks to this box ask yourself ‘why’. Re-visit your original to do list, is this something that should have been ditched then?
I love this little matrix, once you’ve honed in on what you really need to be doing it’s a great way of prioritising and planning. It certainly changed my life for the better and I’m so much more productive.
Do two or three things:
I hope this works for you and I’d love to hear how you get on if you give these a try.
Good luck and thanks for reading.
So, you have a Big Vision that gives you goosebumps and it’s plastered on your wall in huge letters. You’ve started to plan with your team about how together you’ll make that Vision a reality. And you’re all buzzing about the future and cracking on. Great stuff! I can feel the energy from here.
Now, all that’s missing is an effective Personal Management System. Not the sexiest title I’ve come across but even the most inspiring vision, and the smartest of plans will be wasted if you don't have the means to keep yourself on track.
A Personal Management System
Your daily routine is the cornerstone of your personal management system, and should be crammedfull of habits that will maximise your productivity, and move you closer to your Vision.
1. Get into the habit of planning your day the evening before (and your week on a Sunday evening). At the end of the day, you’re usually very clear about what still needs to done, what the priorities are, what tomorrow’s frog* will be. Advanced planning like this makes sure that you hit the ground running.
2. Chunk your work into 90 minute segments. This is a good timeframe for focus, and FOCUS is the key word - don’t multi-task - if you’re going to work on a sales letter, work on it for the full 90 minutes, or until it’s done, if you can do it within the 90.
3. Peak Practice - Work out which part of the day you’re at your peak - for me it’s first thing in the morning - and use that 90 minutes to ‘eat your frog’ - *do the thing that you don't necessarily want to do, but that’s weighing you down mentally, because you know you really need to get it done. Just get focused and eat the damn frog! It’s a really good success habit to get into.
4. Set yourself mini deadlines - always good for those of us who like a bit of last minute pressure - make them ‘drop-dead’-lines too! Absolute must delivers! Breaks are always a good deadline. Holidays are also excellent. Ever noticed how much more you get done in the days leading up to a holiday, or the minutes leading up to any deadline.
5. Switch Off. Both breaks and holidays are essential for your long-term productivity too - refreshing and re-energising your mind and body. The most successful businessmen and women really get this, and have made breaks long and short, a habit they will always keep. Learn to have switch-off time every day - practice is the key.
6. Daily Exercise. Other daily routines and success habits that are good for your mind and body, include taking at least 30 minutes exercise a day - even if it’s just a walk down the road and back - and drinking plenty of water - two litres is the recommended amount isn’t it? I’m no scientist, but I can testify to the power of a lunchtime walk for clearing your head and setting you up for a productive afternoon.
For budding entrepreneurs, there are three other personal management essentials:
A Personal Management System takes discipline and time to develop, but when you learn to manage yourself, the business will be a piece of cake!
Do one thing: look back over today/yesterday. Did your work take you towards your Vision? Did you have frog for breakfast? If not, look to adopt these good habits and improve your routines.
Thanks for reading :)
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)