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LME023 – How to become a better manager at work.

If you want to know how to become a better manager at work, you are at the right place. I’ll show you my 3 best tips. They help you to have more productive and loyal employees. Furthermore you to will become more productive and get a higher job satisfaction.

Sounds interesting? – Read on!

Listen to the podcast version

 

The human factor

As a manager today, it isn’t enough to just simply focus on results and the financial bottom line. Today you need also to have good human skills to be successful.

What are human skills? Great that you ask!

I found it very helpful, how Simon Sinek puts it in his video
“What Business Can Learn From the Military“:

 

“There are no soft skills! There are hard skills and human skills!”

Simon Sinek

 

I believe he‘s on spot. Job satisfaction and job productivity of a manager as well as of the employees is directly tied to the human skills of this manager.

Several studies have shown that focusing on both – human skills and hard facts – yields better financial results for a company: https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive

What can you do?

How can you become a better manager at work? There are lots of tips out there – and a lot of them are helpful and important. For example: Learn to delegate, don’t be a micromanager, create a positive work environment or set goals with your employees the right way

My 3 best tips to become a better manager.

These 3 tips are simple but that doesn’t mean that they are easy to implement. But I promise, if you work on them, you immediately will see positive results. Let’s dive into the 3 tips:

1. Lead more and manage less

I know many CEOs who work around the clock and still feel they don’t really do their job. Many are trapped in the rat race of day-to-day operations. They work a lot on management tasks, but they don’t take enough time for leadership.

In my view, there are several reasons why managers think they don’t have time for leadership. The biggest challenge can be summarized in one sentence:

Leadership is important, but rarely urgent!

Developing a business strategy, talking to an employee, discussing the vision statement, thinking about customer benefits or improving processes – all these are leadership tasks – and they are important, but they aren‘t urgent. They don’t have a deadline.

Leadership tasks don’t have a deadline.

If you develop the strategy today or tomorrow, will not be a big difference. If you have this one-on-one meeting with your direct report today or only later next week, this doesn’t change the bottom profit line, does it?

In contrast, management tasks are usually urgent. They have a deadline. But are they always important? Not really.

The solution?

Since leadership is usually important but not urgent, we postpone it. Therefore, let’s outwit ourselves.

Set fixed deadlines for leadership tasks in your planning and put them into your calender and your ToDo List. This automatically makes your leadership tasks urgent and helps you to lead more and manage less.

2. Talk about your expectations

You want your employees to act and behave in accordance to your interest and expectations. They just should make the right decisions if you are not there and if they can’t ask you, right?

Now, How can they know what you expect from them? Correct. You need to tell them. But be honest.

Are you talking about your expectations?

What exactly are your expectations? I experienced that very few employees know exactly what is expected of them. And the reason is usually: Their boss hasn‘t communicated it clearly.

Do you think your employees know about your expectation? I doubt.

My tip: Write down on a piece of paper what you expect exactly from your employees. Just start with your values, for example:

  • Do you expect your employees to be on time? Then write down Punctuality.
  • Do you want loyal employees? Write it down.
  • Do you expect them to reach goals? Write it down.
  • Do you want them to focus on customer satisfaction? Write it down.

You may say:

“Yes, of course. That’s all important. That’s self-evident, isn’t it?”

But it’s not that simple. You have to set priorities and communicate them. It’s not just enough to tell your employees what is important and how to behave.

You need to tell them your priorities.

Otherwise how should they know what to put first? Therefore, set priorities for your expectations and values. Ask yourself: What is more important to you?

For example, is being on time more important than quality? Has customer satisfactiona higher priority than achieving a sales target?

Perhaps you say now:

“Well, that depends.”

Oh. Really. It depends. So make it clear: On what does it depends?

When should your employee focus more on qualty instead of being on time? If you don’t tell it to your employees how should they know? How should they act and behave in your best interest if they don’t know your expectations?

3       Listen actively

You want to understand – really understand – what your employee thinks. Therefore, you listen, you paraphrase and you reflect back what is said.

It is important that you withhold any judgment and advice when you listen. You want to understand and learn your employees perception and standpoint.

I know some managers have problems with listening. They think if they hear something they don’t agree with they must respond right away. But that’s not true.

Always remember:
When listening actively you want to understand but to understand doesn’t automatically mean that you agree.

One mouth but  two ears

Have you noticed that most humans have two ears but only one mouth? We are created like this to listen more and talk less.

My bonus tip

Focus on constructive feedback. It‘s so important if you want to be a good manager and a great leader. Therefore, click here for my video on how to give feedback to employees:

The inspiring quotes

“Great leaders are willing to sacrifice the numbers to save the people.”

Simon Sinek

LME022 – What is the purpose of a company?

What is the purpose of business? What is the purpose of a company? Most people don’t seem to have much trouble verbalizing the response to this question:

“That’s obvious: The purpose of a business is to make a profit!”

But that’s not true!

Listen to the podcast version

The purpose of any business

When you ask a shareholder this response makes sense. To him, it’s important that the company, into which he invested, makes as much profit as possible. This increases the company value, or a dividend can be paid out.

In both cases, the capital invested by the shareholder increases, and this is what he cares about. This is easily understood, but that does not make generating a profit the purpose of a company.

Purpose of a company

Purpose of a company:
photo: Dean Photography/ resource: www.bigstock.com

Is the purpose of a company to create jobs?

But If you ask a union representative, or a socially oriented politician, he will probably tell you:

“The purpose of the company is to create jobs, and to retain these over the long-term.”

This also makes sense, but here as well: To create jobs is not the purpose of a company.

Customer value?

The sole purpose of any company is to satisfy the needs of customers. A company that does not provide a value to its customers will have no customers over the mid-term. Why should customers be expected to buy from this company?

Over the near-term, a company can survive without customers. Over the mid and long-term a company without customers has no reason for being, and no chance of survival.

Profits and employees?

This isn’t to say that profits and employees aren’t important. Both are needed to fulfill the purpose, i.e. to create value for the customer. They are a means to an end.

A company cannot survive without at least making a profit now and then, because it will not be able to invest into its future and the future value added for its customers. A company can therefore only be of benefit to its customers over the long-term if it is profitable.

This is similarly true for employees and their jobs. To provide value to the customer with services and products, practically every business needs employees. For this reason, it must create enough jobs to satisfy the needs of its customers. Not more, and no fewer.

Might I be splitting hairs?

You may think:

“That is splitting hairs. It makes no difference whether profits and employees are the means or the purpose of a company, right?“

By no means. This is critical to how you as the entrepreneur and manager think about it. Your attitude about this has a huge impact on the company success. The following example should highlight the point:

The self-employed programmer Thomas

Three years ago, Thomas became self-employed as a software developer. He wanted to be independent and make more money than he could in his previous employment.

As a recognized specialist for the programming language C++, he can now charge a comparatively high hourly rate for his work.His customers are happy to pay, because as a certifiable expert, he delivers outstanding programming work. He has therefore accomplished his goal to be independent, and to make good money.

Let’s assume that he defines “making lots of money” as the purpose of his one man enterprise. He therefore places the focus on money. This puts him in jeopardy of relying on his expertise and skill, and resting on his laurels.

But now, the requirements of his customers for his programming work are slowly beginning to change. He is reluctant and late to recognize and acknowledge this. After all, he’s focused on making as much money as possible, and not primarily on understanding the needs of his customers.

Over time, things are getting increasingly difficult for him, since C++ is no longer the predominant programming language called for. He has failed to adjust to the changing needs of his customers in a timely manner. His business is in decline, his revenues are dropping, and his customers no longer want to pay the high hourly rate. That’s too bad.

If he had regarded the purpose of his company as providing his customers with the highest possible value, he would have spent time early to study his customers and the solutions useful to them. He would continue to be a recognized partner for his customers, and his customers would continue to pay his high hourly rate.

Purpose and focus of your company

If your company is in a critical situation, it may be necessary over the short-term to focus on maximizing profits and quarterly results, instead on customer value. But over the long-term such an orientation is always disastrous.

The purpose of a company is always to provide value to its customers – and it is therefore clear that this must be the focus of your company. Your business vision statement as part of your business strategy should reflect the purpose of your company.

Purpose and Vision Statement

The inspiring quotes

“Every product and service is sold on the promise of a better future. The purpose of business is to deliver on the promise, and profit is the reward for doing so.”

Patrick Dixon

“Winners are people with definite purpose in life.”

Denis Waitly