Category Archives: Leadership

Leadership attributes can be learned; by observing people you admire, by reading books, by attending training and by experience.

5 Tips for Managing Others

mayur-gala-487It should not be a surprise to me, but the more I deliver training in the  management and leadership space, the more I see that many people struggle with the supervision of others. I wonder if many of us overthink the problems and see problems where they don’t exist. We need to realise that we won’t get it right all the time – people are diverse and sometimes will react predictably and sometimes (maybe more often) will not. None of us is perfect, so we will all, at times, make mistakes, react badly or put our foot in it.

So here are some things I try to live by (and I do not always get it right either)

1. Give people the benefit of the doubt

I work on the basis that most people want to come to work and do a good job, they want to go home and feel good about the effort they have made.

Have an expectation that people will do well. When things go wrong try to find out why, rather than lay blame.  Accept that people will do things in a different way than you,  work hard to resist the urge to micro-manage (even though it might be the first reaction).

This philosophy goes hand in hand with a mindset that sees the good in people. Where are they most skilled, how can you help them to build on that skill, how can you compensate for their lack of skill in another area?

Try it, you will be amazed at how amazing people really are.

2. Provide support where it is needed

Support for your team comes in many forms.  It is the training you provide, the resources to do a good job, the flexibility in hours, the time off when needed, the listening ear, the direction…

In providing support for your team you will come up against the equal versus equitable dilemma. How can you treat everyone the same and also allow for differences in circumstances?

Think about the people in your team. How many have school age children and struggle with school holidays when both partners work- can you accommodate them?  Can the people who have English (and Kiwi English at that) as a second language communicate as effectively with their clients as others- how can you help them?  Does the person who struggles with mental health need a quiet place to work from time to time? Is there someone in the “sandwich generation” who is managing aging parents and teenage children at the same time- how can you support them?

Think of it as an investment in your people, not as a cost and you will reap the returns.

3. Deal with conflict

Conflict is inevitable whenever you get a few people together. Conflict isn’t necessarily bad, so long as it is handled positively. Disagreements can result in much needed change, new ideas and innovation. As a team leader, it is important that conflict is dealt with quickly and positively.

Keep an eye out for behaviour that may result in bullying or harassment and stop it straight away. It is not easy to raise issues, but it is important that you do.

Have those courageous conversations and you will see good results.

4. Manage change

Change is something that we all need to get used to, however, many people do not cope well with change. Supporting people by providing good direction and clear communication about change will help them to navigate changing work environments.

Sometimes people will not recognise their own resistance to change, by getting to know your staff you will understand how best to help them.

5. Have fun

And one of the most important things to remember is to have fun. Your work and business require serious attention, however it is important that everyone has a chance to stop and have fun.

As a team leader you can influence the fun that your team has. Don’t take yourself too seriously,  celebrate successes and (sometimes) failures, allow time for team members to be a bit silly sometimes- whatever works for your team will be good for business.

There are, of course, many other things you need to think of when managing a team. Try to do these five things well and good things will follow.

If you need support in this area, get in touch to talk about how I can help.

Having a thick skin

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In New Zealand at the moment there is a high profile harassment case which is polarising the public, despite none of us knowing what actually occurred.

The public reaction is an interesting glimpse into the psyche of a nation that prides itself on being first to give women the vote. When it involves a man’s career over a woman’s, the choice seems to be that the man’s career is more important.

It also highlights that an organisation “following a process” can end up at a point it probably didn’t intend to get to. Allowing a high profile executive to “leave with dignity” (and I can imagine the conversations that occurred) following findings of serious misconduct has been conducted publicly, providing a forum for the allegations to be rationalised.

The right to “privacy and confidentiality” of the complainant has left her without a voice.

The core of the issue though, is how we expect people to treat each other in the workplace. I have been in the workforce for a long time, long before sexual harassment had a label or a law covering it.  Most of my career has been in a male dominated environment and I will say that, for the most part, I have been treated with absolute respect as an equally valued staff member and colleague. There was sexism, and some behaviour that could be considered to be harassment.

One of the best descriptions I ever heard about sexism is that is is like a cloud, you can see it, you may even feel it, but you cannot touch it or grab hold of it. Much of the behaviour that contributes to harassment is the same.

It is the joke that if you complain about you have no sense of humour, it is the patronising language that is “just what I say, I don’t mean anything by it”, it is the body language, touching and close proximity that is uncomfortable but isn’t visibly threatening, it is the mild flirting that is ‘harmless”. Harassment is likely to be a combination of all of these behaviours.

What is the result of this behaviour? In most instances it doesn’t escalate to a dangerous level, it is often carried out by “a good guy” and doesn’t result in criminal behaviour.

It does result in the recipient feeling uncomfortable, they may question why they need to put up with it and they may leave for another job, they may not be able to have a good working relationship with the person because of this discomfort and fear of where it is going next, they may be absent on days when they feel most vulnerable, it may result in sub optimal performance.

Are you doing everything you can to make sure everyone in your organisation feels valued, has the opportunity to contribute equally and relishes the opportunity to come to work to make a difference?  Or do you expect people to harden up, learn how to take a joke and develop a thicker skin?

 

 

Unfurling HR – conversations for change

koruLast week I attended the Unfurling HR Unconference organised and facilitated by Amanda Sterling of NZLead. The fern was used as a metaphor for unfurling, unravelling and re-positioning the people and culture related disciplines in organisations. It was an inspiring and motivational event and I have included links to other blogs with feedback about the unconference below.

I participated in discussions about leadership, personal development and the internal brand. As a consultant I couldn’t resist putting my feedback into a stop-start-continue format with suggestions for organisations and HR.

  Organisations could…. HR could….
Stop
  • Leaving all the people stuff to HR
  • Leaving all the compliance stuff to HR
  • Creating a consumer brand disconnected from the employee experience
  • Tolerating poor people management practice
  • Taking on all the people stuff
  • Taking on all the compliance stuff
  • Creating employment brands
  • Tolerating poor people management practice
Start
  • Ensuring all managers are trained how to manage people
  • Supporting personal development for all staff from day one
  • Supporting a culture that is living the brand inside as well as outside
  • Developing leadership across the board
  •  Facilitating processes to ensure all managers are well trained
  • Facilitating personal development plans for all
  • Collaborating with marketing and others to develop the culture that supports the brand
  • Identifying leadership qualities that support the culture
Continue
  • To look for better ways to do things
  • To collaborate with HR to create stronger organisations
  • To recognise the knowledge and experience of their people related teams

 

  • Having challenging conversations about doing things better
  • To learn about the business and how they can best add value
  • To learn from each other and share knowledge widely in their organisations

Thoughts from other attendees- #unfurlingHR created a lot of food for thought.

Amanda Sterling – Reflections from #unfurlingHR – what next

Megan Borrie – #unfurlingHR – Baking these things in

Richard Westney – Off the beaten Track

Angela Atkins – #UnfurlingHR

Vaughan Rivett – Attending my first unconference

Jonathan Hagger – One quick recap

PS- this event will inspire at least one more blog from me,  so watch this space.

Exploring the possibilities of social media

Screenshot_2014-01-21-20-06-09I have been using social media for a few years now, learning and exploring the possibilities. Initially, like many people, I saw twitter as a bit frivolous, FaceBook as too uncontrollable and LinkedIn a bit staid.  But, I had read enough to tell me that as a small business I should be thinking about social media marketing.

I began without much of a plan. I knew I had to be business-like and that I had a lot to learn. I was very lucky to get some great advice early on from Sonya at Cue Social Media about how to engage better.  And then I just practised, tried things out, read lots of articles, observed what others did, observed the reactions to what I did, took a few risks and figured out what worked for me personally and for my business.

My facebook page still hasn’t many “Likes”, I don’t think that is the perfect medium for me and my business, but it’s there and serves a purpose when I want to share business related stuff. LinkedIn has grown and I have learnt to use it to promote myself and what I do.

But I have discovered my all time favourite, the one that fits me like a glove, is Twitter.

Why do I like it?

  1.  I like to talk
  2. I can get a bit passionate about some things (some would say opinionated)
  3. I like to understand all sides of a story
  4. I am an open person and am generous with my knowledge and my time
  5. I love to learn
  6. I really like meeting new people
  7. I’m not fazed by “what” people are- I respect you for who you are as a person
  8. I advocate for what I believe in
  9. I support my friends
  10. I connect people and create networks

These attributes make twitter perfect for me as an individual.  I also believe twitter is perfect for organisations to encourage their people to engage with others; to learn, advocate, find out what their public think, listen to other points of view and generally have great conversations that will ultimately create richer workplaces. The open nature of it is not something to be scared of, if you are clear about what you want to achieve and then trust people to make good choices. There will be people like me in most organisations; those who see the possibilities, embrace the learning and understand the risks.

Finding the HOW is part of the journey. Some will have achieved great things already, but for many it will be a frightening prospect.  I think it is well worth organisations spending  time thinking about the possibilities.

Who is ready to come on the journey with me?

 

Resolutions

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The working year of 2013 has begun and most of us are looking ahead with new enthusiasm and renewed commitment to “being better this year.”

So, should we be making New Year resolutions for our business? My answer is to set goals for the business and  make resolutions for yourself.

As I reflect on last year and plan for the next, I recognise that 2012 was a tough year and that resilience is needed to move into 2013 with positivity. I want 2013 to be less tough personally, to be positive about what can be achieved and to take my business to the next step. My resolutions and goals reflect that overall wish.

Here are my three resolutions to make 2013 a better year.

Resolution #1: I will be true to myself  What is it that will really work for you? What will you focus on for the year? How do you really want to spend your time? If you are working on the things that you think are right, then you will put more energy, time and thought into doing it well. The results will be much better than for the things you do half-heartedly.

Resolution #2: I will believe in myself Once you have decided what it is you most want to do, believe in how well you can do it. Seek support if needed, research and learn all you can to help, but ultimately it is your passion and belief that will make it work. Trust your instinct and act on it.

Resolution #3: I will relax more So often we are busy being busy, in the belief that if there is still work to be done putting in the hours will get you there. It won’t always. Spending time relaxing, unwinding and doing things unrelated to the “work” you have to do will often yield a better result when you get back to it. You will also feel better and have more energy.

 All the best for a wonderful 2013.