We know the value of benchmarks in project design. Sometimes, however, when it comes to managing, we manage by default and do not identify our benchmarks. What are your benchmarks for managing your team this year?
If you want to create your benchmarks, you can get started by identifying your Manager Values (see my previous blog post on manager values) and how you want to lead. Then, do some benchmarking by identifying managers or management approaches that resonate with what you and your team must accomplish. Identify a set of benchmarks for your managing this year. Some examples: regular communication with team on project progress and performance; 90% on – time achievement of team performance goals; limit duration of and attendance at meetings to what is necessary for performance; valuing work/life balance for yourself and team members, while assuring performance.
Keep your benchmarks visible and check your managing against them periodically. Benchmarks help you focus on the effectiveness of your managing and will improve your performance overall.
Boundaries can be seen as limiting and constricting – something to avoid. If used in your own interest, however, the opposite is true – boundaries can set you free. How? By keeping out things that do not serve you, creating the time you need to manage well, eliminating people and things that drain your energy and creating space for things that fuel you.
The tricky part comes with setting boundaries. There is plenty of room for conflict, misunderstandings and more energy drains, if you do not set your boundaries clearly and calmly. How to do it?
First, get clear on why you want to set the boundary. For example, you may want to stop a constant flow of interruptions during your workday, because they are counterproductive and work is not getting done at the rate you want. You could either set specific “open office” hours for non – emergency situations or specific “closed office” hours to have concentrated time to work.
Second, communicate the boundary well. Make your communication about you, not others. Be clear and state your reason for setting the boundary. Be open to what others have to say, but stay firm on your need for a boundary.
Third, stick to it. Whatever the boundary is, do not relent. You may make changes, but the end result has to be improvement of the situation that created the need for the boundary in the first place.
Boundaries, well considered and well placed, can set you free to manage effectively and lessen the stress of your everyday.
In nature and in your own biology, renewal is a constant. It is a foundation of life itself. Maintaining an awareness of the power of renewal brings both promise and new energy to your managing and your work.
What is the promise and new energy of renewal?
• Assuring you are fresh and in touch with changes that are occurring around you
• Keeping your work interesting, by bringing in new ideas
• Stimulating your mind and your creativity
• Contributing to a positive environment for your team
If you’d like to go further with this, find ways to incorporate renewal into your managing and your work. Some potential ways – periodically shaking up your team’s routine, doing things at work that are positive and also at the edge of your comfort zone, reinventing one team process every few months and establishing “open space’ opportunities for you and your team to foster creativity.
Teams need diversity to innovate, excel and succeed. Inherent in diversity are differences. As a manager, how do you handle differences and incompatibilities among team members and maintain diversity?
Diversity has many forms – among them personalities, culture, work styles. Differences do not lead inevitably to disagreement, but do need to be acknowledged and observed. Some teams have people who are outliers. They stand apart in skills, by choice, or otherwise and the distance can be significant.
Managing a team with one or more outliers calls first for assessing the value and origin of the outliers’ distance. Do their differences contribute or detract from the team? If they detract, challenges lie ahead for you – to minimize the detraction if the team member is worth keeping on. If the differences contribute, a good challenge lies ahead – to manage your team by honoring each individual and creating an environment for each team member to do the same. Malcolm Forbes offered this positive definition of diversity: Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.
Team outliers can make the difference between excellence and the commonplace. Inherent in diversity is difference, which makes it so valuable. Value your outliers. If you do not have one, bring some in and manage them well.
Do you have a plan to develop your management skills? How can you assure that this time next year you will be a better manager than you are today? What areas will you focus on?
Managing involves a wide range of skills and motivations. Continuous improvement is essential if you want to excel. If your organization or others provide manager training, take advantage of it. If you can find a good mentor, do it. If these opportunities are not available, you can observe others and their management techniques – seeing what works, what doesn’t and what approaches you want to adopt. Read – pick books that attract you – your management style cannot be prescribed, you will build it yourself to fit your values and leadership style.
Don’t wait for others to do it for you. Create a roadmap to being the best manager you can be.
As a coach, I often focus on finding work you love. What about work that loves you back? Is this a radical notion? Maybe.
Unrequited love is not fun. Think about it. With all you put into your work, don’t you deserve to love what you do and have all that you put into it come back to you? Does your salary or profit alone fulfill you? We are told that work is hard and success comes with struggle. We are told to manage our expectations. Those messages hold us down and keep us under others’ control.
How would your life be different if you found work that loves you back?
The company GitHub optimizes happiness for team members, product users and shareholders. A recent Fast Company blog post, “GitHub’s Code for Work Place Happiness” presented GitHub’s approach which includes: a radically flat structure; allowing team members to choose the work they want to do with responsibility to the collective; and a belief that profits will rise naturally because happy team members create great products and great products have users who love these products and will pay for them
Do you believe that happiness is achievable in your and your team’s work? Start there. By believing it is possible you can start defining what makes you happy and have your team do so as well. Implement what you can. It could lead you to another organization, eventually, or you could find happiness right where you are. Is there a good reason not to be happy in your work? I don’t think so.
1. Take the time to thoroughly prepare and organize any meeting.
2. Get input on the agenda from participants prior to the meeting. Ask for suggestions on efficiencies.
3. Limit meetings to no more than 90 minutes. If more time is needed, schedule a series of meetings.
4. Start on time and state the goal and desired results for the meeting, as you start.
5. Begin the meeting with a 30 second “check in” from each participant to gauge the energy of participants.
6. Follow the timeline on the agenda. If more time is needed on an agenda item, readjust the timeline or table for later discussion.
7. Rotate the “facilitation” of meetings by having one participant track the timing on the agenda.
8. Halfway through the meeting, ask participants for a 30 second statement on how the meeting is going and to constructively and briefly suggest efficiencies. Adjust accordingly.
9. Ten minutes before the scheduled close of the meeting, wrap up and identify action items resulting from the meeting.
10. Send a follow up e mail to all participants after the meeting and thank them.
The only place where you are fully alive is in the present moment. Amazing sometimes how much of our time is spent in the past or future. How much time you spend in the present moment is a good measure of your effectiveness as a leader.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
• How often am I fully focused on the task at hand?
• When I am in conversation, am I fully attentive to the person (people) I am speaking with?
• To what extent am I aware of what is happening in my immediate environment?
• When stress shows up, do I bring myself to the reality of the present before deciding how to deal with it?
• Am I aware of the physical. mental and emotional aspects of my experiences ?
“The point of power is always in the present moment.” – Louise Hay
To move forward, open communication is a necessity. In reality, however, open communication is rare. By open communication, I mean conditions where each person has the opportunity to speak their truth in a calm, considered way, without retribution.
Many things inhibit open communication – hidden agendas, strong emotions or lack of emotional intelligence, fear, organizational dysfunction or a desire to control, for example. You could decide that you will communicate openly, but there are risks. Until a safe space for open communication exists, you can employ some elements of open communication by allowing others to speak to you in an open manner, developing your own emotional intelligence and not reacting to poor communicators, unless one of your boundaries are crossed. You also can become more knowledgeable on open communication and, when you can, foster its development.
Without open communication, progress is slowed. With open communication, progress gets on a fast track along with innovation, harmony and collaboration.