28. Make sure your employees are 100% clear
on the objectives. If you are not absolutely clear and provide the clarity needed for all to understand, you will have a
confused team. They will not truly understand the mission, vision, and goals. Confusion
turns into anxiety, which then turns into fear. Your team clearly needs to
know what is expected of them, the value of their strengths, and the actions you will take to achieve the objective. With the information you will learn throughout this course, you will be able to
confidently implement the necessary actions for the team to achieve the objectives and goals.
29. Analyze the problem; map out all
possible answers, and then implement. In most cases when faced with a problem, there is not just one clear-cut answer. Making the right decisions when solving problems is one of the most important
aspects of management and leadership. When you start to see the cracks, you
need to fix them as soon as possible, just don’t use a Band-Aid fix on a major fracture. Truly identify the problem, look at all of the possible reasons and needed
resolutions, and implement the best idea to fix the problem. Utilize your
team to help look at all of the possible scenarios and ideas, even the illogical and unpractical ideas might turn out to
be a solid solution to short-term or long-term problems. One very important
thing to keep in mind; focus on fixing the problem rather than on finding the blame.
Finger pointing will get you nowhere. We will discuss more about problem solving and decision making in lesson 6.
30. If possible, take your time on making
the right decision. Unless you need to make an on the spot decision, you should always take your time and reflect on
all of the possible ramifications. Just let your boss, upper management, or
whomever is waiting on the decision know that you will think about it and get back to them as soon as possible, or at
least by the deadline. You are most likely to make the best major decisions
outside of work. It can be before you go to bed, in the shower, on the
train, on the plane, etc. When you’re away from the hustle and bustle of
the office, you can calmly think everything through. This also pertains to
ideas and improvements. Jot down your notes and bring them into work. You can even e-mail yourself so you have them ready to read when you are back in
31. You need to be able to delegate. It
might seem hard to let go of certain tasks because you feel it might not get done right, but as a leader, it is one of
the best things you can do for your employees. Besides, if you do not give
up most of the daily tasks, you will feel bogged down and stressed. It will
also free up some time for you to take on more pressing issues. Do not feel
embarrassed, shy, or like you are passing the buck when it comes to delegating. It is expected of you as manager. It is vital that you let your staff take on most of the tasks and projects. This also gives them a chance to show what they can do. It breaks up the monotony of the day and gives some excitement. You also want them to get the credit on the delegated task to build their self-esteem. It is a compliment to you when they are complimented, and besides, your
self-esteem should already be high since you are the manager. The most important thing is to know whom to delegate to and when.
Make sure you know exactly what needs to be accomplished before you give the task to someone else. You need to confidently tell your employee on what needs to be done, and show
you have the confidence in them to do it. Some tasks will need more
monitoring than others, and some are more important. Set up a timeframe on when you expect the job to be completed, and have them report back to you with
the progress. It is up to you to determine who can get the job done quickly. However,
don’t always pick the same person. Spread the tasks around to those who
show interest. Make sure you have a commitment from the employee, and give
them the authority needed to get the job done. If you have your eye on
someone to promote, delegating to that person is a win/win solution. Just
be careful that you do not show favoritism as you could run into Human Resource issues.
We will discuss more about delegating in lesson 6.
32. Know how to multitask and prioritize. A good leadership skill is being able to handle more than
one project at a time, and knowing which is the most important. You will
find yourself creating a procedure, checking e-mail, answering your phone, a person will come into your office, and on
top of all that, getting ready for a meeting. This is inevitable, and is a
part of being a manager and leader. Don’t stress, make the decision on
what is the most important and put the most energy into that task. For
example, if the employee who walked into your office looks or is acting distressed, that should take priority. You can ask the person to sit down, quickly reply to the e-mails and phone calls
stating you will get back to them as soon as possible, and put your process document to the side. If you are running late for a meeting, you need to make the decision on whether
you should continue to talk to your employee, or schedule a time to further discuss the matter. If you cannot make the meeting, make sure to inform the meeting leader that you
are taking care of a personal issue. It should be noted that your employees
should always come first. We will discuss more about multitasking and prioritizing in lesson 6.
33. Always be ready to react, embrace, and manage change. Always show that you are ready for any challenge
that comes your way. The saying, “The only constant is change,”
particularly holds true to business management. One of the key strengths of
a great leader and manager is the ability to accept change and orders that come down from above with enthusiasm and
confidence. You would then translate the directive with the same enthusiasm to your team. This is how you impress your boss, and your bosses’ boss, and build confidence
within the team that you have everything under control. The leader is the
rock, and gives stability to the group. You will most likely get some
worrisome and sarcastic remarks from a few of the team members, but that’s natural and you should not worry about it. Don’t get angry about complaints, even though you may be angry about the
change yourself. They might just need to blow off some steam, and the best thing you can do is show that you do care
and understand their frustrations. You might want to share some of your own
frustrations as well; as long as the main take away point is optimism for the future.
Your main concern is to make sure the change or transition goes smoothly, and that everyone knows the new
objective. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what you should do. Take the steps to prevent unwanted surprises, continually meet with your boss
and staff to keep them updated, and don’t make or implement major changes until you have consulted with your staff. If you show you are embracing the changes with optimism and leading by example,
your staff will most likely follow. We will discuss more about communicating
change in lesson 7.
34. Strong teams do not need to be micromanaged. If you manage people too
closely, you are subjecting them to constant scrutiny. If a team works well
together and has a sense of unity, purpose, and pride, including being knowledgeable, you should not have to closely
monitor them and continually be on their back. This in turn gives them more
freedom knowing the boss is not breathing down their neck all of the time. This
sense of independence can also be a great motivator. If you have a team where you feel like you have to make all of the decisions, and expect them to
follow your orders like a robot, then you will most likely have a high rate of attrition as it creates an uncomfortable
atmosphere. If you have a brand new team of somewhat inexperienced
employees, then you do need to manage with more direction, all the while taking full responsibility. However, once everyone understands the goals and functions expected of them, you need to back off and
let them act as a true team. Basically, provide more direction and develop
the inexperienced group to become a strong team, and let the experienced well functioning group act as the strong team
that is already created. It is up to you to determine the skill set and
what you have to work with regarding experience and knowledge. Just make
sure you make the right decisions on your approach, and do not feel like just because you are the manager, you are
expected to re-invent the wheel. Pride sometimes gets in the way because of the management title.
You will be more respected if you do not try to fix something that is not broke. Be there in time of need, instead of micromanaging when it is unnecessary. It’s a win/win situation when you have a strong independent team working
closely together that does not need to be closely supervised. This frees up
time for you to work on other projects that can enhance your department. Don’t
feel like you have to hold all of the cards for job security. Sometimes
managers feel they are no longer needed if the team is working like a well-oiled machine.
That is not the case at all. In fact, you will be recognized for the
team you created and most likely given more responsibilities, thus strengthening your position. It may even lead to promotion. Just remember,
micromanagement won’t work when teamwork is, and should be, a priority.
35. Know as much as possible of what your
staff does daily. For example, know how to take a customer call and document it in the ticketing system, or know how to
do the basic troubleshooting for repairs. It is human nature for
leaders to devote most of their time and energy on the functions they know and perform best. This can be a trap, and it is just a matter of time before you find yourself in
a situation where you should have been able to perform the simple task. Keep a list of all of your weaknesses pertaining to what you need to know, and address each issue
one-by-one. You should always seek and strive for constant improvement.
36. Have a clear cut organizational chart. Org
charts give a clear reporting structure for all employees to follow. For
example, supervisor A and B report to you, the manager. Supervisor A is in
charge of Tier 1, and supervisor B is in charge of Tier 2. It should also
show your direct report. There is an example of an org chart in lesson 2 that you can use as a guideline.
37. Remember to think in terms of cost and
always have to balance the two together. You have to look for ways to reach
the goal with minimal cost.
38. Chart it out. Make sure you have a white board for mapping projects, prioritizing tasks, sharing ideas,
modifying schedules, making seating arrangements, etc. This will be a
constant visual reminder for you and applicable staff to see.
39. Hire, then lead, then monitor, then reward, and finally retain the
right people. You will need to get the right people, know their strengths and weaknesses, know
what motivates them, know how to set clear expectations, evaluate the persons performance, and when applicable, reward
for a job well done. If you understand how to apply this information, your
department will succeed and you will have a better chance at keeping the good people.
All of these topics will be discussed in greater detail throughout this course.
40. Brainstorm with key members of your department or fellow managers. There is no reason you
should feel you need to come up with all of the answers, on the contrary, the more help you can get the better. By brainstorming with key staff members or fellow managers, new and positive
ideas that benefit all are usually the outcome. Hear the suggestions,
discuss the possible solutions, work on a plan that makes sense, see if you have the necessary resources, think how you
will implement the plan, then write it and distribute it to all with clear-cut communication. Lessons 2 and 6 go into more detail on planning and problem solving.
41. Create an effective work environment. Ask your employees what they need to perform to their
optimum. It can be a process modification, better tools to get the job
done, and even to make their surroundings esthetically pleasing. The goal
is to create a positive workplace with as much positive energy as possible.
42. Follow the same process you expect your
team to follow. For example, if you expect detailed documentation to be entered into the company database, then you
should not cut any corners if you are the one entering the information.
43. Keep upper management and financial
issues that are considered confidential to yourself. You might think you are showing off by telling some company secrets, but you can
get in trouble, not to mention the person you told will always expect future information.
This is especially important when it is bad news.
44. Always be prepared for meetings. Arrive a little early, and have all of the documentation
and notes you need for the meeting. Make copies of the pertinent
documentation for everyone at the meeting if applicable. You can refer to
your notes if you get asked any questions you are not immediately able to answer. Practice
and refine your speech if you are expected to present. Practice saying some
quips that pertains to certain situations, telling clear and concise short stories, and have a good joke or two to tell
when the timing is right. Know when to shorten or stop a speech, and most
of all, be clear and precise. A few choice statements will go much further
than a lot of mumbo jumbo. Your ability to quickly communicate and have
answers to questions from your staff and upper management shows great leadership skills.
We will discuss more about meeting management in lesson 7.
45. Post important information on the wall
using large-scale wall charts in clear view for all to see. You and your team should
take pride in achieving the goals set. There should be constant reminders
around the office on what you are aiming for as far as goals and objectives are concerned. There can also be large boards for the most important customer issues, work
schedules, tips of the day, etc. These charts and boards can also be in an electronic format such as a monitor and reader board.
46. Fully understand the goals of the
company. Especially the financial goals. You will get this information from management meetings or from CEO
announcements. You need to know the key short-term and long-term
objectives. You should be able to answer questions from your staff that
relate to these matters.
47. Fully understand what upper management
wants from you. You need to be 100% clear and fully focused on what is expected from you so you
can lead your team to achieve these objectives. We will discuss more about company
expectations in lesson 2.
48. Under promise and over deliver. It is better to be honest and
state how long a project might take, or if you’re not sure you can do the project at all. Don’t just tell your boss or upper management what they want to hear. You do not want to say you can have something done by the end of the week, when
you know darn well it would be near impossible to complete. You do not want
to turn in poor work to meet a deadline. By setting a realistic timeframe
upfront, and if possible completed a head of schedule - thus over deliver, not only will it make you look good, but will
also reduce some stress. Just be careful not to push the requested project
too far out in the future. For example, if you are requested to complete a
project in the next week, but you come back saying it will take one month; you will look bad and not a team player. You should be more compromising and suggest two weeks if you feel it can be done in that timeframe. The optimum scenario is to be able to adhere to the requested project deadline,
but that is not always the case. The point here is that it is better to
give a realistic timeframe and hopefully be ahead of schedule, than to agree on a given timeframe and fail.
49. Make and meet your deadlines. As
previously stated, meeting a deadline makes you look good as a manager who plans to get the work done, and leader who
inspires to get the work done. Never miss a deadline. Be known as the person who always gets the job done right and on time. Map out the project if needed by using a program like “Microsoft Project”. You can also just map it out by creating a timeframe for each phase. Make sure you prioritize the most important tasks. You would enter these phases on the calendar by putting the project complete
date first, and then work backwards. This will help you determine the true
start date to be able to hit the project complete date. Make sure to give yourself some leeway and extra time for possible unseen or unplanned complications. If you feel there is a chance you might miss the deadline, you would have to
either modify the phases, or let your boss know you will not be able to make the deadline, which would be the absolute
worse case scenario. Lessons 2 and 9 go
into more detail on basic project planning and project tools.
50. Have a good understanding of the basics
of a business. You should know the functions of each
department and how they interact. You should especially know the
basics in finance, marketing and sales. You want to be able to understand
just what is being said in management meetings. You do not want to feel
like you are blinded with science and have no clue on what is being discussed. Lessons
8, 9 and 10 are dedicated to business basics.
51. Be able to report the statistics that
matter. A good leader understands the value of statistics,
and a good manager understands the data that matters. You can be sure your
boss or upper management will expect you to give reports on your department’s performance. You should add data you feel is important, and eliminate the data that is
redundant or not important. These statistical reports are your report card,
and you always want to strive for an “A.” You need to make sure the
data is 100% accurate, whether the results are good or bad. If the results
are good, you help justify your job as manager and will get a good pat on the back.
If the results are bad, you have the data to back up what you need to be able to improve. For example, if you have long hold times in your customer service department,
and you have absolutely structured your department to its optimum, you can justify hiring more staff. The stats don’t lie and you absolutely need to master all departmental
reports. Although lesson 2 gives reporting examples you can use as a
guideline, it is highly suggested you become extremely proficient working with spreadsheets.
52. Hold a meeting with all of your staff on
the first day. If you are new to the company or department, you want to establish yourself from day one. Introduce
yourself and give them a brief history of your previous work experience, tell them what upper management expects you to
do, go over the vision you have for the department, and what it is you expect from them.
Let them ask questions, and take notes with immediate follow up to any questions you could not answer upfront. Give a quick summary on all that was discussed.
Thank them and close the meeting in a professional manner. Make sure
they leave the meeting with the feeling that the future looks good. This
will instill confidence and break the ice so you can get started on making your mark.
53. The first few months on the job… Make sure you meet with key people within your department, ask a lot of questions, and take
notes of their suggestions. Take these suggestions and incorporate into new
policies and procedures if applicable. It builds rapport and your staff
will start feeling like you are going to make some positive changes. This
works great if you are following a manager who has not done such a great job. Be
careful with this approach if you are following a manager who was loved and respected.
Also, turn on your radar to find the complainers who will try and drag you down, as well as the good people who
will work hard. Make sure you tell the good people how much you appreciate
all of their hard work. Don’t ignore the complainers, however, at least
make some small talk. They just might have some insightful information that
can help improve processes. Last of all, make sure you nail your first
assignments and meet the deadlines given by your boss, no matter how many hours you have to work. You should always meet your deadlines, but it is imperative you do so in the
first few months on the job.