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.
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.
‘Do this and your people will fly!’
Feedback! The key to improving performance. And yet so many people feel awkward about giving it or shy away from it altogether. So why do people find it so difficult? Perhaps you’re one of them. You may be the person who makes a joke of everything or someone who says, ‘Well, they know what I think from my body language.’
We all approach feedback differently. To those of us who have a British upbringing, feedback can often be seen as awkward, negative & confrontational. We see giving feedback as daunting. For me, the only reason to give feedback is to inspire improved performance. ‘Inspire’ is the key word. You want people to be walking away thinking, ‘I know how I’m going to do it better next time now,’ and wanting to do just that.
So how do we deliver that? Let’s take a look at ways of giving feedback which will remove the angst. There are two methods. There’s informal feedback – the ongoing, day to day feedback, and then there is the formal performance management to back that up.
Find someone doing something good everyday!
Ongoing, day to day, when someone in your team is doing really well, you want to showcase and highlight that to the rest of the team. Have a philosophy of ‘trying to acknowledge someone doing something good, each day.’ Publicly acknowledge the event and explain why you’re pleased – perhaps it positively impacts a customer or the rest of the team and so forth. It’s all about positive reinforcement – you want more of this.
Spot learning opportunities everyday!
Don’t just walk past the bad stuff. Don’t allow it to happen without addressing it – nip it in the bud. Inaction does nothing to sort the problem and worse still, erodes the trust and respect of the other team members if they think you’ve let it slide. This, if you like, is ‘just in time’ coaching where you again, on a daily basis, seek out learning opportunities. In these circumstances just have a quiet word, there is no need for public humiliation. This time ask the person ‘why’,‘Why is this not acceptable?’ Give them the opportunity to work it out for themselves and see the effects of their behaviour. ‘When you said that to John, how do you think it made him feel?’ If they can work it out for themselves they will take it onboard more than if you simply lecture them. Make it a genuine learning experience.
The EEC Model
Here at MPL we talk about the EEC model:
What’s caused me to comment on the way you’re working? Maybe the way you answer the phone, maybe the way you spoke to a client, maybe the way you completed a piece of work. What is the reason I’m talking to you?
What effect has it had on me, on the client, on the business, the team? Is it a good effect or not so good? Did you forget to smile when you answered the phone, making your voice sound sombre and moody? Did you complete this piece of work, but it wasn’t absolutely spot on in terms of accuracy? Did you get a great customer review?
and then either Continue
‘Thanks so much. You did a great job. Loved the way you’ve got absolutely every detail correct, keep going with that. Customer x was thrilled with that.’ Do more; continue.
When it’s something that you want to correct, then you’re talking about how you want somebody to change their performance. What can they do differently? What do they need to do to be up to standard? Give people the chance to get things right next time.
When it comes to formal feedback, remember that nothing should ever be a surprise. All of the informal feedback that you’ve given feeds into your formal, sit down performance review. We recommend that you do formal performance reviews at the end of each quarter. That you make it routine. It’s a chance to sit down with your team member to talk to them about the great things they’re doing, and to inspire them to do even better.
Many people shy away from that whole idea of sitting down with each team member. Either that, or they only sit down with them when something bad has happened and they want to tell them off. No wonder their team members dread the call, it’s like when I was little, our dogs hated the car because the only time they got in it was to go to the vets! When you make delivering feedback routine, it becomes a more positive interaction between you and your team. It becomes a conversation, a discussion. ‘How can I do this better? How can I improve? I really want to improve, how can I do it?’
Encourage your people to keep their own development journals
This will become a useful tool for development because it will help to highlight where each team member would like to go, how they want to improve, and what they need from you in order to achieve this.
Encourage them to jot down the things they did really well, their ‘Proud Page’.
To note when things didn’t go to plan; what were their learning points. If they had some training or coaching, what three things would they do differently next time as a result, their ‘Learning Page’.
Their ‘Aspirations Page’; what challenges would they like, what training/development would help them get there.
The formal appraisal should be their story; you just need to listen. Then ask these question:
That is how to build trust.
People are more likely to ask for support if you’ve made this whole performance management system part of ‘the way we do things around here’. The way we do things round here is we give honest and open feedback, whether something is good, or needs to be improved. We are always honest and open; though honest doesn’t mean brutal! Make that part of your culture, and you have a real picture of continuous improvement. Everybody always looking to do that little bit better to make that marginal gain.
Do this and your people will fly. Do this and your business will fly.
Do two things:
Thanks for reading
Photography credit: Owen Kemp on Unsplash
I read a great quote by Clare Balding the other day about Pep Guardiola. She wrote, “He (Pep) is the manager not just of a team of players but also of backroom staff whom he always values, praises and thanks. He is a leader who makes them all believe the impossible is possible.”
It just got me thinking about how bosses and managers treat their ‘backroom’ team. One of my pet hates over the years is hearing a manager giving someone a task and apologise for it. How does that person then feel? How can they take pride in their job and feel any sort of fulfilment? I’ve seen it in managers who want to be liked or are worried about a possible reaction, “I’m really sorry to have to ask you to do this…’’
Now I’m not suggesting they do a Tarzan swing and ‘big-up’ a simple or repetitive job but rather to explain to people how their role fits in to the bigger picture. You may think cleaning toilets isn’t much of a job. Okay now imagine you work in an office and they’re not cleaned! I know many people who judge an eatery not just by its food and service but also by its toilets. Have you ever come back from the loo and raved about it or returned to your table vowing never to return to the restaurant?
We had a US vice president at McDonald’s who would always make the toilets his first port of call when checking out a restaurant. Not for a call of nature but to make sure they were so clean that he could eat his burger off the toilet floor. (I wonder if he ever did?)
People want to feel that they belong, that they’re valued, that they are part of the business and that they make a difference to its success. I heard a story recently where a school had called a meeting about its future but had just invited teachers to it. Not the facilities people or the grounds team, those people without whom the teaching couldn’t happen. How to quickly make people feel they don’t count!
On the other hand, I know someone who made a point of working late a few times a week to catch the cleaners coming in so she could learn their names, thank them in person and explain the difference they made to the working environment and the business’s success. Yes, these people were employed by an Agency, but she felt they were still part of the team. She would also insist on clear desks and work areas every night explaining that it made it easier for the cleaners and to get her team members to appreciate their work.
An old boss of mine used to love telling the tale of the man he used to pass regularly on his way to work pushing his dustcart round London streets. He was so impressed that this guy was always smiling, acknowledging people as he passed. His cart was decorated and the pride he took in his work oozed from his pores. Imagine if the person giving him that task had been apologetic rather than explaining that the first impression people get of a city is its clean streets.
So going back to Guardiola, I imagine that when he has a team meeting which is about the future, rather than next week’s tactics, he invites the whole team. And what is so great about it is that the extremes in that team would be hard to replicate in most SME’s; famous multi-millionaires and the person who cuts the grass being inspired by the boss about the future of the club.
Do one thing: make time to ask your team members individually how they think their role impacts the business. If they don’t know, then there’s your chance.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.
’You can dream, create, draw and come up with the best ideas in the world, but you need people to help you turn your dreams into reality.’
As business owners, we rightly focus a heck of a lot of attention on our external customers and what we can do to give them a great experience. We can often forget that our people are our customers too, and without them, we can’t provide a great service, or grow a successful business.
We want our team to be full of ‘go-to’ people, leaders and high performers. We want them to support us in our vision, to be loyal to the business, to work hard for us; but what do they want in return?
If you had to choose one thing that has the most positive impact on your team what would it be? ‘Communication?’ ‘Involvement?’ ‘Trust?’ What would you be looking for if you were in their shoes?
Below is a list of the top 20 answers to the question, ‘What makes you feel valued at work?’
Take 5 minutes now to think about how your team would rate your ‘delivery’ in each of these areas, and rate yourself from 1-5 (1=unsatisfactory, 2=needs improvement, 3=satisfactory, 4=good, 5=excellent)
How did you do?
Are there a few there that might get rated ‘needs improvement’ or ‘unsatisfactory’? How would you say that affects your people’s performance or your reputation as an employer?
If you’re unhappy with the results, there is no better time to act than now, because as Walt Disney said,
‘You can dream, create, draw and come up with the best ideas in the world, but you need people to help you turn your dreams into reality.’
Value your people, turn YOUR dreams into reality.
Do one thing: We've created a questionnaire for your team members ready to use and a ‘How to' guide of how to use it (please download below).
If you do use it we'd welcome any feedback about how it went and any improvements we can make.
If you feel on a roll our Business Efficiency Test will give you further insight into how each of the key systems in your business is operating - including your customer experience system - and will give you strategies for improving them in a pdf report. Take the test now, to see how you measure up.
I want to share an interesting conversation I had recently with a control freak.
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 huge 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.
This particular ‘control freak’ (and I use that phrase because I can - I was one too!) 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.”
Drives me nuts.
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 that rut we talked about recently.
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 someone let you make mistakes when you were learning, someone gave you room to grow and develop, someone recognised that mistakes are how we all learn. 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? Have systems. Set standards. Give your people proper training in how to use your systems to achieve those standards. Manage their performance. Reward good performance and re-train when it's not so good.
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 Systems Scorecard to see where you’re at, right now, in your business.
It’s that time of year again, my car is due its MOT. I sit there waiting for the phone to ring. All those moving parts, they can’t all be in perfect working order, can they? So it’s always great when I get the ‘all clear’. Not that it’s always that straightforward, because you’re then faced with the dreaded traffic light system: green for fine, amber for ‘will need attention soon’ and red obviously, for a fail. I hate getting an amber on a tyre. Is it a green-amber, or an amber-red? What if something happens on the motorway and I haven’t changed it? So I invariably get a new one.
I can understand why MOTs are mandatory, the roads are bad enough without a load of faulty cars on them. It does make you think though, how many other areas of our lives would benefit from a top to toe, annual health check? It would certainly be great for a business, and for a business owner – but where do you go to find a leadership MOT, to have the traffic light system run over your behaviours, to tell you what you’re doing well, what needs attention and what has to stop!
Where do you start?
Well I start with an overview of how well the business is doing because all the leadership that you’re giving is ultimately to that end. Your business dashboard will keep you on track with the headline business figures your leadership is ultimately achieving. How your key performance indicators are doing, things like sales, turnover, profit, customers, speed of service, etc those things by which you’ll judge success.
Then there are other facts that can inform you, for example, how many people resigned, did you let go, failed probation this year? How many people have you promoted? How many are borderline needing help?
A bit of self analysis doesn’t hurt either – getting off the hamster wheel once a month or once a quarter, taking the time to re-visit your vision and values, using the traffic light system and a healthy dose of honesty, to assess how you’re measuring up.
But a great way of checking out your effectiveness but also finding out what people need/want from you as a leader is to ask them. A simple 360 degree feedback system can be really effective. I’m not talking about bells and whistles and expense but a simple question. When you conduct performance reviews ask: ’What’s the most important thing you want from me as a leader?’
Make a note of the answer and at the next review ask how you did. It can be that simple. If you are that busy business owner or manager how great would it be to know the main thing that each of your team want from you and how much easier to focus on delivering it.
You can step that up to a second question: ‘What can I do to make your job better/easier?’
Add caveats if needs be, so if a pay rise is not on the cards let them know so they don’t waste their question. Then follow up at their next performance review - ‘How did I do?’
And then if you’re brave and you can encourage a climate of trust introduce a third question: ‘What do I do that stops you doing a better job or perhaps from enjoying your job more?’
And then follow up again at their performance review.
I have found this so useful over the years and some great ideas have come from it. It’s often little things as well that can be put right but which make a big difference to the individual. You know how sometimes a small niggly thing gets in your head and you can’t think straight?
It’s also great if you have team members who aren’t as vocal in team meetings; by getting them to voice their opinions one to one it starts to build their confidence to speak up in groups.
And as a leader, the follow up at review time really concentrates your mind to make time to do what you said!
The upshot is that people feel they’re being proactively listened to and their ideas acted on which is great for two-way communication, your relationships, team morale and ultimately productivity.
You may want to ask your customers too, ‘What are we doing well?’ and ‘What could we do better?’
I know this works if you stick with it and build trust. It may take time for people to realise that you’re not just ticking a box but that you’re serious about learning and improving. You need to also rein in your reactions and not go on the defensive which I know can sometimes be easier said than done.
You above all need to take action and then follow up at review time just as you would with tasks you’ve set your team members.
In my experience it’s definitely worth it.
Another way to get a really good feel for what your team are thinking and feeling about working with you is to get someone independent in to talk to them confidentially & one to one. We have done this a number of times for clients, and it’s amazing the really honest feedback and ideas for improvement you get from team members who open up to an outsider in a way that they might not feel comfortable doing with you. You get a real feel for what’s having an impact on them personally, or on the performance of the team, whether it’s a small niggle or a massive block. We then feedback the key themes & ideas anonymously to you as the business owner and help you to develop a plan for action.
Do one thing: Give yourself a leadership MOT, and build what you find into your personal improvement plan. Find out more about what we do here
Thanks for reading.
In my business I often come across managers with one thing in common; they are flying by the seat of their pants! People who are ‘accidental managers’. You know, the great team member who is plucked from their team and given a management role or the talented business owner who finds themselves managing people as their business grows. They have little or no training or development and rely on what they’ve learned along the way from managers around them, good or bad. And if you need a great management role model, we can learn some really crucial lessons from Gareth, and his signature waistcoat.*
Lesson 1 - Nurture your Culture
Many clients say to me, ‘I really want to improve the culture of my business. I want to get it right.’ So what can we learn from Gareth? First of all, he had a really clear idea of what he wanted the culture of Team England to be. The thing with culture is that it starts with values; it starts with the values of the person at the top. Gareth clearly is a man who has strong opinions, strong values, a really clear idea of how he wants to operate. What I think he did brilliantly was choose people for his team who shared those values. I don't think it's any mistake that certain people were not brought into the England setup, people who maybe had massive egos, big superstar baggage or people for whom it was ‘all about them.’
Just look at the individuals within that team and how well he brought them together. Regardless of what team they came from, he managed to bring in those people who shared his values, who bought into the idea that ‘we are one team,' and he did a fantastic job of building that culture.
He talks about the England DNA. If you think about the last 20 plus years, the England DNA has been big egos; it's been superstars; its been cliques, it’s not been about pride in wearing the England shirt. Look how many people have pulled out of playing for England, have not seen it as a real privilege. They've seen it as a chore, and he, in a very short space of time, has been able to turn that around.
The fact that he'd raised a few of these guys from a very young age as manager of the England under-21s, proves there’s an awful lot to be said for growing your own talent - bring in the attitude and then develop the skill.
Obviously, with football you have to have natural talent, but attitude is so, so important. In a lot of situations it's not the superstars who win, it's the collective, it's the team. Look at Croatia - great example. Look at England - great example. We got all the way to the semi-finals, and Argentina with Lionel Messi went out. Portugal with Ronaldo went out. The collective, bringing together a great team, will always win, and Gareth Southgate as the manager was responsible for that.
So great first lesson, nurture the culture you want to build. Think about your values; it starts with values, then bringing in people who share those values.
Lesson 2 - Build Unity
Within the England setup, there was no us and them. There was no ‘the staff and the players’. That was really clear from what you saw on TV, how they were with the physios and the psychologist and with Gareth himself. Although a few of them did slip into calling him ‘Gaffer’ they mostly called him Gareth, which was just unheard of in the past. There was no us and them. Absolutely, they were one.
Gareth Southgate was great as a manager in sharing any praise. It was always, ‘We, the team,’ ‘We, the squad,’ ‘We, the entire group of staff and players.’ And taking responsibility for any blame, ‘Yeah, I'm responsible. I'm the manager.’ I absolutely loved that he was brilliant at sharing praise and shouldering blame.
He was also very good at supporting those who were having a hard time. Take Raheem Sterling, the England scapegoat; Gareth was great at protecting him and keeping his confidence high. Not just because he recognised that Raheem was so crucial to the team effort, but also just because this was in line with his values, that he would look after the team. He would keep that person feeling confident and part of the team.
So the second lesson is unity. Make your business one team.
Lesson three - Develop Relationships
As a manager, you need to build great relationships, and Gareth did just that with his competitors.
When you saw him going around at the end of each match they played, he seemed genuine in his congratulations to the other players, to the other staff, made a really big point of shaking hands with everybody. Perhaps that’s easy when you’ve won, but even in defeat, when it must have been absolutely killing him when they lost to Croatia, you saw him going around to every single member of their team and to the staff, hugging them, congratulating them.
Then going to his own team to just remind them how far they'd come and how well they’d done. Building relationships was really important, just as he did with the managers of the players he brought into the England squad. He didn't antagonise them in the old ‘club versus country’ way, but was just very firm, fair, and friendly with everybody that he had dealings with.
So the third lesson is about building relationships.
Lesson 4 - Inspire and Motivate
One of the common questions I get asked by people on our Management Development Programme is, ’What's the difference between a manager and leader?’
There'll be books written on how managers are the logistic experts, they just keep things ticking along. A big part of a management role is making sure that the attention to detail is there, that mistakes aren’t made and if they are, that they're learned from and so on.
But these days in any business, you have to be a leader as well. You have to inspire and motivate the team, and quiet as his media persona was, our Gareth was clearly a very inspiring and motivating guy. He didn't immediately crack the whip. When he first met with the squad, he took them into a room and shared his vision of what it was like to be an England player and how privileged they were to wear the three lions shirt.
That is something I find that a lot of managers and business owners miss. They miss sharing their vision. ‘Where is this all headed? Where are we all going together as a team and why?’ He inspired and motivated them so well.
He clearly showed them how much he believed in them, and as a result, they believed in themselves. Every interview there was no talk of, ‘Oh, well, crikey. If we get to the quarterfinals, we'll be lucky. We'll have overachieved.’ No. ‘We're going to win this. We're going to win this.’ That's what inspired the country. It's coming home. He got those players to believe that they could win it, that they really could win it.
He also treated them like adults. Sometimes, particularly new/young managers feel their role is to be the boss, to talk at people, to tell them what to do. When you have adults or adult conversations with people in your team, when you give them the training and development and support that they need, when you really believe in them and remember that you have a responsibility to help them to fulfil their potential, that's when you get your team to take ownership. That's when people start to step up and go, ‘All right. I'm responsible for this. This is my job.’ And you saw that right through the tournament with England. The team were taking ownership. The team were taking responsibility, and they were acting like adults.
Fourth lesson - look to inspire and motivate your team to build ownership and belief.
Lesson Five - Have fun!
It became obvious as the tournament progressed that the team were enjoying themselves. They had an enormous amount of fun, which was something, again, that Gareth Southgate encouraged. He wanted them to enjoy themselves.
We are lucky with what we do, a lot of us, and why not have fun doing it? Why not encourage our teams to have fun? People are at work for so many hours of the day, it's part of our responsibility as managers to help people enjoy it, not to dread coming into work and be managed by us.
Fifth lesson- create an enjoyable workplace. This goes back to culture and values as well.
Lesson 6 - Learn, learn, and then learn some more!
The final thing that I really wanted to bring up as a lesson from Gareth was his desire to learn, his desire to be the best possible manager he could be. Look how he went and studied other really successful people, both in sport and in industry. He really wanted to learn how the most successful teams operate, and he left no stone unturned. He will continue to learn. He'll have already learned lessons from this tournament. He'll already be preparing for the next because he wants to be the best he can be.
That's really what I want for each of you. I want you to be the best possible people managers that you can be. So think about the lessons from Gareth. Think about your values and your culture. Think about how you can create unity in your team. Think about the development and support that you're giving not to the team as a whole, not just to the stars, but to every single individual, however minor their role is in the team.
Think about the relationships you're building and how they will help you to be a better manager. Think about how much you're inspiring and motivating the team who work with you, and then think about how you're going to become a better manager, what you need to do, the skills you need to develop, where you can learn those lessons that you need to learn to keep improving, keep developing, and be the best manager that you can be.
*waistcoat optional ;)
Do two things: think about how you need to develop as a manager then think about the areas you need help.
We run a highly successful online Managers' Development Programme; the next is starting in August. To find out more, click here
‘I'm only two modules in, but I've already grown in confidence in leading my team and I'm no longer nervous around giving them constructive feedback. Thank you to Marianne for her wisdom and expertise!’ - Maddy Kelly, Boda Skins
‘Since starting this programme, my team’s productivity and progress is going up, consistently, month on month. And not just by a few percent! It’s significant. I’ve got my team into a really good position. Everybody knows what’s expected of them. Everyone is looking at their performance, and looking at their goals. I’ve shared my knowledge with other team leaders in the business, and they are starting to implement change in such a positive way throughout the whole company.
On a personal level, I’ve gained confidence, I’ve become more direct and clear with my expectations. I feel like a manager now, and I can also manage upwards to my boss effectively.’ - Ryn Moser - Chief Language Officer, Supertext
How do you split your time between your superstars, your under-performers and your steady, reliable team members?
I’ve spent some time this week working with a couple of my private clients, talking to their teams, individually, one-to-one to discover:
The first was a revisit, to check the progress that we’ve made and also address any new or remaining niggles. The other was a first visit – new client, new team, many of the same challenges.
What I learned from the new team will help me to help them over the next 12 months. It’s a great exercise for a business to do. The thing I love most about it is that you get to talk to both the old-timers, people who have been around a few years and also the newbies – team members who’ve been around less than 6 months.
Quite often, you’ll hear people say, ‘Oh, you won’t get anything useful from new people, they’ve not been here long enough to know how things work’. But that’s actually the point – you get their fresh view on what has become the wallpaper to everybody else. You know, when you walk into a new house sometimes and you’ve got a wall that you need to sort out because it looks hideous and then you find you’ve been living in the house two years and that wall still looks exactly as hideous but you’ve just stopped seeing it? New people spot things that the longer serving team members no longer see, or recognise as an issue.
Yes, you can learn a lot about a business from talking to those who work there. But how often do we do it.
I was talking to my sister about this very thing in advance of my client meetings, and she reminded me of the analogy of the choir, the crypt and the congregation.
The choir are the people in your team who are the real superstars, the people who you love having around you – your high flyers. The people that you give the big jobs to, to get them sorted.
The crypt are the people who are under-performing. They are sometimes the rotten apples in your barrel, the people who are either constantly moaning or constantly asking the same questions over and over again, or simply very high-maintenance.
Then in between sit the congregation very often forgotten because they are steady, they are reliable, they are consistent. They don’t ask for anything, they are possibly never going to be your high flyers or you may just not notice their potential. But they are absolutely solid as a rock, you know that they will come in, they will do a really good job and then they’ll go home. No trouble, just really consistent, steady stayers.
So, what percentage of your time do you spend on your superstars, your under-performers and your steady reliable team members?
Perhaps your choir, your superstars don’t need too much of your attention because by definition they are self-starting, high-achievers. Your time is spent with them on public praise and in high energy gatherings, on setting new challenges and keeping them stretched and fulfilled. After all, you want to keep them!
What about the crypt? People in here may just need to be trained and nurtured to progress to the congregation or even the choir. But how much time do you spend on someone who you know is just not the right fit but you dread having that conversation with and so put it off? What about the person who does an okay job but who is incredibly needy of reassurance, of constant affirmation who picks on any little thing, who just sucks the life out of you on a daily basis? How much time do you spend and how long do you persevere?
And then how much time does that leave to spend on people who simply do their very best every day, the congregation? They may not be superstars in the recognised sense of the word, they may never achieve greater wealth or status than they have already, but they go about their work cheerfully every day, and they do it consistently well. They are the sort of people who you would want beside you in the trenches (do people still say that these days?); the sort of people who are calm and measured in a crisis; who have had their share of hard knocks, but who just keep bouncing back; the sort of people you can rely on to be…well, reliable!
Someone who springs to mind was a carer for my dad.
Now I loved my dad to bits, and he was a positive, loveable man…but he was also 90, had run his own business since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and as a result of both combined, he could, at times, be a bit difficult. But this lovely lady had him wrapped around her little finger. I’ve watched and listened in awe on many an occasion, as she arrived at 8pm, as cheerful as the first visit she made at 8am, with tales of what she’d had to deal with in the pub (that she also managed) the night before! My life! It’s not like she was paid a fortune for what she did for my dad and others like him.
And he loved her… for her ‘not phased by anything’ attitude, for the fact that she didn’t need to be asked if she saw a job that needed doing, and the fact that she brightened up his sometimes boring days with her banter and cheeriness. I know she’s the sort of person who he would have loved to have working with him back in the day – great at keeping the customers happy, seeing and solving problems before they arose, a good hard reliable worker. I bet we would all welcome someone like this into our teams.
So how much attention do you give these people – the congregation? Do they get the public praise? Do you set them challenges? Do you encourage them to aspire to the choir? Or do you just let them carry on… being reliable?
Do one thing: organise some one-to-ones with your team.
Find out what one thing you could do to make their job easier, and help them to serve your customers better. Let them talk, and listen to them.
And if you feel that you wouldn’t get straight answers then bring in an outsider, bring in a friend, bring me in to talk to your team and get this information because what I’m picking up with my clients teams’ is absolute gold dust.
The sort of stuff that doesn’t readily come out; feedback about where people see themselves; feedback about who’s sitting next to who and how that’s affecting their work; feedback about how poor communication is.
Little stuff maybe, but it’s always the little stuff, isn’t it?
Have a great week.
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)