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Managing Your Team

Your emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

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What is it that allows some managers to get productivity, loyalty and initiative out of people, while others are struggle, even when they seem just as intelligent? We usually say he or she has better “people skills”. And that’s about right. Most people in business would agree that to get results through or from other people is key to one’s success – unless you are a dedicated ‘soloist’.

You’ve seen or perhaps experienced the nightmare boss – the guy who is fussy, short tempered and demanding. Clearly, hard to work for. Why? Because he unbalances people emotionally, and does not care about how he makes them feel. Their emotional reaction drastically affects how they respond and what they will or will not do in return.

Angry Boss

So how much more effective would that boss be if he were patient, calm and understanding in his approach?

We’ve all had the experience of ‘losing it’ out of frustration or stress and saying things in the moment that we regret later. Things, that upon reflection, have further slowed or exacerbated the situation – hardly what we wanted in the first place.

One’s ability to perform work or function properly in a job can be broken into three areas:

  • Technical competency and skills
  • Intellectual capability – our cognitive ability commonly known as IQ (Intelligence Quotient)
  • Emotional capability – often referred to as Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a measure of one’s ability to recognise, understand and manage emotions in ourselves and others. Getting results and performance from your team, demands that you master some basic skills in this area.

The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) became widely known through Daniel Goleman’s book of the same name back in the 1990’s. It’s a “must read” for anyone who works with people on any level (as are several of Goleman’s other books). Goleman argues that EI is a far, far greater predictor and ingredient of business success than cognitive intelligence.

Goleman developed the Emotional Intelligence Competencies Model which breaks this concept down into something that is easily understood.

Emotional Intellignce Competencies Model

Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Competencies Model

  1. It all starts with Self Awareness. One has to be able to recognize one’s emotions and the effects your emotions have on others. You also need to have the correct measure of self-confidence.
  2. This leads to two things:
    • the ability to exert self-control and manage the characteristics that will lead greater achievement: Drive, conscientiousness, adaptability etc.
    • the ability to empathise and be aware of the people around you and your role within the organization and the community.
  1. With self-management and social awareness, one can successfully operate relationships where you can exert your influence, and drive results through others.

In business there is a range of relationships you need to be effective in:

  • Your employees
  • Your peers
  • Your manager
  • Your customers
  • Your suppliers
  • Your strategic partners

And don’t forget your social relationships, family and friends.

So what are the ingredients for being emotionally intelligent in a business setting?

  • Be direct and to the point. Be clear about the facts and tell it like it is. Don’t use sarcasm or emotive words for effect and never be personal.
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be the model of consistency so that people learn to trust you. People will find it difficult to play games with you and the outcomes will be greater.
  • Be transparent. Tell people what they need know. Share. If you treat people like adults, they will respond positively. Don’t be paternalistic or patronising.
  • Be positive. Your team is scrutinizing you every moment of every day. They take their lead from you. You need to show confidence and control.
  • Be caring. Don’t forget how important your team is in helping you to achieve your goals. Get to know the people that work for you. To make your business more important to them, you need to show interest in what’s important in their lives.

happy team

Being emotionally intelligent in the workplace will yield dividends. Your team will enjoy their work more and they will naturally do more. Your business will gain a reputation as a great place to work and recruitment will become easier.

Not only should you take this on, but why not educate your team in Emotional Intelligence too?

Do You Have These Issues In Your Family Business?

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When it comes to small to medium business, one almost automatically conjures up the image of a Family Business. The term is reminiscent of a sitcom and sometimes can be just like one!

Complex Relationships

Working with close family members or even more distant relatives presents many challenges. These relationships have unique complexities that are often beyond the ability of those involved to deal with. Over time some of these relationships collapse, some thrive and the businesses fortunes usually follow suite.

Approximately one third of companies in the S&P 500 index are family controlled. News Corporation, The Ford Motor Company, Wall-Mart and Mars are some of the better known family businesses on this list. But these are sophisticated businesses that have overcome some of the issues that many small businesses have to contend with.

Most smaller family businesses don’t follow a formalised management structure and so there are going to be issues.

These are the issues that may result:

  1. No clear, shared Vision for the business. Without this, there can be no documented strategic plan and therefore long term sustainable growth will be difficult. If the business is in a competitive market, then it could become very challenging as better organised businesses gradually erode their market share.
  2. Lack of properly trained and qualified future leaders. Top positions are held for family members who may be given opportunities beyond their abilities. The original founder or retiring owner may find that their anticipated long term future income from the business may be far less than they bargained for.
  3. Family issues affecting communication. Close family members working together sometimes take their work issues home and bring their private family issues with them to work. Typically, spousal relationships create the biggest problem. Non-emotional business communication becomes a challenge and the business suffers. Tension in the workplace can spill over and affect other staff members.
  4. Family jealousy. Sometimes the eldest son say, may be chosen to run the business whilst an equally capable sibling may be passed over. Family politics ensue creating tension and strife within the family.
  5. Lack of interest in the business by successor generations. Younger family members are often predestined to go into the family business, irregardless of their preferences or proclivities. As they are given greater and greater responsibility, their lack of interest and enthusiasm can jeopardise the business and the livelihoods of the non-family employees.
  6. Lack of formal business structures and documentation. Without these, efficient operations may be difficult and growth and competitiveness is hampered. If retired family members are relying on the business to fund their retirement, they may have no choice but to remain involved to keep things running smoothly and thereby safeguard their income.
  7. Lack of formal planning and budgeting.
  8. Preference given to family members for senior management and leadership positions when they are not the best candidates. Even when not intentional, old fashioned nepotism undermines the system of merit we all expect. Family member can end up in senior positions, displacing better qualified, non-family members. Also, other staff members can become disillusioned or frustrated with the lack of promotion opportunitues and leave.
  9. No formal succession planning. Unfortunately business acumen and natural ability of the older generations is not always passed on genetically (or otherwise). Without formal succession planning, proper contingencies may not be taken and the businesses future could be jeopardised.
  10. Tunnel Vision. Without outside input, family business can isolate themselves from valuable fresh thinking and innovation.

There are surely a great many issues in addition to those above.

Other phenomena

In family businesses where there is ongoing tension between family members, often far too much energy gets invested in the internal issues. This distracts people from their mission and the business can whither. Another phenomenon that occurs, particularly when husbands and wives who are working together and are quarrelling, is sabotage. In these situations one or the other will deliberately do something that will harm the business, to cause the other spouse upset, stress or anxiety – irrespective of the financial or business implications.

What should one do if you are in a family business where some of the above is occurring?

If you are a family member: A good option is to involve an interested but non-family professional who is a forthright, straight-talker and someone with a robust constitution. This person can act as the voice of reason and help the family to do the right things that will keep the business moving forward.

If you are not a family member you have a difficult situation. If you have the family’s confidence and you can be candid with them, then suggest the option above. If not, you will have to bide your time and deal with whatever happens.

If you are involved with a family business, what interesting scenarios have you come up against?

Why All The Fuss About Time Management

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Time management is a really old story. Sure, there have been a few interesting ideas thrown into the time-management ring every now and then, but in reality it’s really quite boring.

Well, not if you run a small business. Many of us talk-the-talk about time management but in reality, very practise it properly or indeed, at all. In most small businesses, getting high levels of productivity can be very challenging, particularly if the work environment is not tightly structured and people are left to their own devices to do their work.

It is not difficult to be very busy. You can spend each day rushing around being very,very busy. It’s another matter being productive. In my experience, most managers in small businesses look at how busy people are far more than they look at productivity. And productivity does not equal busy.

Time management is defined as the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.

It is very easy to turn up to work on Monday morning, plough through the week and provide little value to the business. What is needed is goal directed effort, and there are several ways this can be put into place:

  1. The default diary. Using this system, you work out the time needed for the various regular duties and responsibilities that you have and assign them to time slots in our diary. Then it’s down to self discipline to stick to the schedule. Pro’s: Ensures that balanced and adequate time is allocated across all areas of responsibility; once set it can be continually used. Con’s: Requires self discipline to make this work. Needs special work in the case of set events or varying duties.
  2. The weekly plan. For people whose duties vary from project to project, this is the best approach. It requires that a weekly plan is worked out every week for it to succeed, wherein time requirements can be estimated and allocated. Pro’s: Very flexible. Con’s: Needs to be done each week

As a manager, responsible for commercial outcomes, it is important that time management is in place as part of the company ethos and that attention is paid to creating an environment of effectiveness. An environment of effectiveness involves having everyone trained and respectful of each others time and need to be productive. Everyone understands the the jargon and the principles of the time management system in use.

A discussion on Time Management cannot be held without referring to the underlying need for clear goals. It is only against goals that any form of time management makes sense. By starting with a goal, this can be broken down into manageable pieces that can then be organised, prioritised and finally scheduled. In other words developed into a plan.

It could be argued that time management is at the heart of any successful human endeavour. Certainly insofar as time is a finite or “scarce” resource, it must receive attention from its users for its careful and judicious use. So despite it being an old and boring story, effective time management in business is one of the key business fundamentals.

Hired a dud? What do you do?

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Hiring well is a tough gig. Let’s face it, even the best make mistakes. It’s challenging and time consuming. But finally it’s over and the new person starts. But what happens when you realise that you have made a mistake and hired a dud? How long should you take to act?

Hiring correctly?

Hired a dud?

The answer is as fast as you can. For a number of reasons. Nowadays, every team is lean, each contribution valued. Everyone must pull their weight. You simply cannot permit a passengers to occupy a good spot. Not taking action puts extra pressure on the rest of the team and builds resentment towards you and your bad hire.

Too often a manager will prevaricate, dreading the idea of going through the recruitment process again or perhaps vainly hoping that things will improve with time.

Not to mention the fear of looking stupid.

When someone has to go, they have to GO.

When you have to let a new recruit go, remember that the hirer is the only person to blame. You need to take responsibility for your mistake in judgement and act professionally. If you handle the situation poorly, you will have someone out there broadcasting their bad experience and potentially causing your business damage.

Obviously the best way to avoid this sort of situation is not to hire the wrong person in the first place. Duh! But in reality hiring effectively is not something that many business owners are well versed in.  So here are some important tips.

Hiring well comes down to three main things:

  • Hire on attitude. Most people focus on qualifications and experience. Whilst these should not be totally discounted, they are only relevant if the person has the right attitude; to work, to learning, to teamwork etc. Education and experience can always be gained, attitude is mostly hard-wired.
  • Don’t rely on your gut feel. When it comes to hiring, subjectivity is your enemy. Have a colleague sit-in or conduct their own interview and compare notes. Invest in developing a hiring process that includes some sort of psychometric or  personality testing to help you independently verify the candidates innate degree of fit to the role. Nowadays there are many options available. If you think that spending a few hundred dollars on testing is expensive, just work out the real cost of making a hiring mistake.
  • Get good at interviewing. Learn how to cut-through the “puff” that many candidates present.  Thoroughly analyse the role and understand the underlying qualities you need so that you can conduct a revealing interview.  Make sure that the candidates do most of the talking. Familiarise yourself with every aspect of the job and ask open ended questions relative to it. When you hear something that does not fit or you do not like, ask a deeper question. Remember that often candidates will have put far more time into interview preparation than you have. (Just search YouTube for videos on how to beat the interviewer)

It often happens that entrepreneurs have never had the experience of working in a good team, where each member contributes their full share and real synergy results. It’s truly phenomenal.  Getting your hiring practises to a point where you score bullseyes most of the time is a key business growth factor – especially in businesses with small teams.   Are you going to make mistakes? Of course you are. Could you be doing a better job? ……

Getting Staff Engagement

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Staff engagement is the starting point of productivity; a perennial SME business owner complaint. Many of the business owners I speak to expect productivity to happen either by edict or by magic – as if it’s got little or nothing to do with them. Well here’s a news flash: if it’s a problem in your business then it’s your problem.

High levels of productivity does not necessarily mean “work hard”. It means apply yourself in the most effective way possible; a process that requires thought, planning, good execution and consistency. Staff need to come to work with their thinking caps on, with high resolve and a willingness to cooperate and of course, to work. Such staff members could be said to be “engaged”. Maximum productivity can only occur from employees that are fully “engaged” if you have not taken active steps to engage, you have not earned the right to expect high productivity.

Staff engagement comes about when there is an emotional connection between the member, their boss and the business; a resonance that energises and mobilises, spurring people on to do things that they would not otherwise be inclined to do. In addition, high levels of staff engagement is a great indicator of long tenure and loyalty. In essence these phenomena are the outcomes of great leadership.

All people are different. Different social, ethnic and educational levels mean their individual motivations and dispositions need to be considered in order to drive staff engagement. Depending on the size of your team, this could be a big task.  It requires the organisation’s management ethos and systems to embody adequate levels of Emotional Intelligence to make the emotional connection with individual workers.

Nowadays, it is very common for employees to take seriously the business’s profile within the community, the causes it supports, its business vision and the values it holds.  If these are not legitimate and sincere, there will be nothing for the employees to get behind, low staff engagement and low productivity will result.

Having the vision and values etc. in place is by no means the end of the road. You will still need to invest in building an understanding of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, aspirations and fears, and opportunities for growth within the organisation. This can then be used to shape and improve your communications and incentives for each individual. This will make them feel far more relevant and valued and give you the right to expect high engagement and productivity.

You and Your Comfort Zone

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Comfort Zone

 

There’s an interesting biological, survival instinct present in almost all animals, including humans: Stay inside your comfort zone.

As we progress through life, we accumulate knowledge and experience. These get incorporated into and define our comfort zone. Anything new is effectively outside ones comfort zone, until we reach a certain level of familiarization, understanding and comfort with it. Then it’s in. This then is how we increase our comfort zone or to be more precise, how we grow. So the way to increase the size of ones comfort zone and grow, is through additional knowledge and experience.

Sometimes when we think of a new idea or possibility, our comfort zone mechanism kicks in and makes us resist – because it’s outside of our comfort zone. So we we dismiss it and look for an idea that is more comfortable. So instead of progressing and growing, we look for an easier idea that is within our comfort zone.

Here it is on a bumper sticker: Everything you strive for is outside your comfort zone.

To achieve what you want means growing – gaining new knowledge and experience; sometimes fighting your instincts to stay in your comfort zone.

  • Start by finding out where the gaps in your knowledge are?
  • What strategies do you need to explore to fill these gaps effectively?
  • How do you personally deal with the process of learning and applying new knowledge

Chances are this is an area of challenge.

Getting better results from your team; a quick primer

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By Evan Rubenstein
As a business owner or manager, you have an expectation that your employees come to work with the same motivation, conviction and clarity of purpose that you do.

Mistake.

Whilst there will always be some employees who quite obviously take advantage of the situation and do as little as possible, most will happily work a lot better if you do your job properly as a manager. For many business owners, that may mean recognising that you are short of skills and taking appropriate steps to learn them.

The number one complaint amongst owners of small to medium enterprises (SME’s) is how hard it is to get good people. To some extent that is true, but in reality it is the management of the people they have that is generally poor and, were they to fix that and use that impetus to grow their business, the problem of attracting a better quality employee would reduce.
There is no magic solution to getting better results from your team. It boils down to traditional management practises, thoroughly executed.
So here is a checklist of the things you need to have in place before you can realistically expect consistently good performance that will make its way to the businesses bottom-line.
  1. Recruit better. The best way to ensure that the people you employ are going to work out for you is to make sure that you hire only people that are compatible with your organisation and the intended role, and will thrive within the culture of the business.
  2. Have proper role documentation. Without this, your employees will remain unclear about what you expect of them and how their performance will be evaluated. If they don’t really understand what you expect, how can they deliver?
  3. Introduce a thorough and formal induction process in your business. This is not restricted to corporates. It really helps new employees understand the lay of the land and who is who in the organisation, helping them to get productive more quickly.
  4. Meet regularly in an atmosphere of active listening, and provide constructive feedback. Make sure you master this technique, otherwise you will create unnecessary  tension and the results you are after will probably elude you.
  5. Create systems for your team to work within. This will make difficult things routine and help you bring on new employees quickly and efficiently.
  6. Conduct formal performance appraisals. These are very effective management opportunities; don’t forego them because you don’t know how to do them.
Most important of all, is to get all of the 6 points above completed in your business. Whilst having some of them is certainly better than having none, this list works best  as a complete system. Once you have it set up and properly systemised, your business will be unrecognisable and you will be able to focus on more valuable and important issues.

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