Step-by-Step Journey Toward Managerial Effectiveness (Part 2)

Step-by-Step Journey Toward Managerial Effectiveness (Part 2)
Dave Mather
Dave Mather

Once you start developing ideas that fit your objectives, it’s time for the next step in our journey toward managerial effectiveness.

Get busy collecting data, especially performance data, but avoid the common error of analyzing data too soon. Concentrate on personal observations, interviews, and feedback. Train others to vet their observations of speculation and early conclusions. Like an effective detective, let the facts take you to the truth. Coach your team to become objective observers rather than trying to fit the facts to their prejudices. This is not easy but worth the effort.

Staying Close to Customers

An important way of collecting data is to get closer to your customers and invite their feedback. One client told me, “We talk to our customers every day.” Yes, but do we really know what they are thinking? One of my coaches told me, “Dave, you know what a customer is thinking when their lips are moving and they’re telling you.”

Get a few customers in a room and tell them that your team (a representative small group of listeners) promises not to talk but only listen during this conversation.

Gather the data and immediately do a debriefing to establish what your team heard. Consider what you are doing that customers really like, don’t like, or want you to do differently. Then take prompt action.

‘Divide and Conquer’: Testing Replaces Speculation

Keep your customers in the loop about your action plans. Create several action plans and then “divide and conquer.” This means creating several teams and having each team take one action to apply, and then a week or so later reviewing every team’s plans, direction, and preliminary results to determine which actions are easily implemented and produce immediate results.

Shut down actions that are obviously impractical or sounded better than after they were implemented. (This is not a contest; it’s trial and error and no one is to blame if an action doesn’t produce results.) The idea is to pick the best actions and assign people and resources to implement them across the organization.

This approach avoids speculation and posturing for our favorite ideas without testing them. Teams I’ve coached to do this are amazed at the time saved and results produced. Testing replaces speculation.

Then during implementation, analyze performance. Did we meet our objectives? If not, why not? Are those objectives still important? If so, what will we do differently? Be willing to change goals if they are unrealistic or impossible to achieve.

Nurturing Your Competent Team

Focus training on the competencies required to achieve your desired outcomes. Avoid faddish training or simply following what others are doing. Instead, concentrate your resources on creating a competent team of passionate advocates of your clearly articulated objectives.

Competence builds confidence, not the other way around. Focus on behaviors required to take you to where you want to go—together. Along the way, encourage and support each team member, in person, directly, and in real time.

If employees are surprised at their regular “performance” appraisal, then you are doing something wrong. Effective performance appraisal is an ongoing conversation, not an uncomfortable dialogue or an ordeal like what one organization’s employees labelled “hell week.”

Let’s end on a somewhat controversial note. Avoid tying performance appraisal to pay rates. This smells like a bribe and is distasteful to capable employees who want feedback and want to be highly effective. Share the wealth, but avoid the temptation of outdated “carrot and stick” methods. Hire the best and pay them well from the wealth you create together.

Now you are leading!

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Dave Mather is a 40-year veteran Dale Carnegie business coach.

Dave has been a business coach for over 40 years. He has travelled across Canada, the United States, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, and South Africa giving presentations and coaching business people to improve performance and create breakthrough results. Dave specializes in helping senior managers/owners turn desired outcomes into viable business realities. Dave’s clients have created millions of dollars of tangible short-term results on behalf of their long-term visions.
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