Sports commentators say a lot that is instantly forgotten and then, occassionally, utter words that become ingrained in our minds for ever. It may not endure in the same vein as “There’s some people on the pitch, they think it’s all over…” but one comment at the end of the England v Denmark semi-final this week caught my attention more than any other.
The standard of the leaders in the past couple of years in this country has been poor but look at that man there… he’s everything a leader should be: respectful, humble, tells the truth, genuine. He’s fantastic, Gareth Southgate.
Whatever your thoughts on many other leaders, there seems to be consensus on this matter. Most agree with Gary Neville that the current manager of the England men’s football team is a great guy and an excellent leader.
He’s not ‘showy’, he’s not egotistical, he seems to genuinely care. He speaks out clearly and thoughfully on important issues. He makes it about his team, not him.
In an interview after this historic win that takes England to their first major final since 1966, astonishingly, Southgate gives special mention to members of the original squad who were then excluded from the final group of 26 that were selected for the tournament. That is remarkable inclusivity and awareness in such a heady moment.
Lots more will be said and written about him, especially if he leads the team to victory in the final, and rightly so. Who wouldn’t want to work with this kind of leader? Clearly his current team do.
Do you use phrases like these with the people you lead? Does your manager use these with you?
“My door’s always open”
“Come and find me anytime you need help”
These are great sentiments, genuinely appreciated and, for sure, sincerely meant…but I do regularly encounter some problems with this approach. Here are three common ones:
team members don’t seek out their leader as often as they should, wasting time and effort ‘working it out themselves’ when they could have really been helped (we don’t want people to become leader-dependent but regular effective guidance can help a lot).
when the leader has to instigate a conversation about some kind of correction / refinement / improvement, it feels like a big deal, akin to being called into the headteacher’s office!
opportunities to praise, encourage and recognise progress and victories are missed.
I think the last of these points is huge and is a major reason why I am a huge advocate for ‘keeping it regular’. There is so much to be gained by the simple act of setting up regular, routine communication both one-to-one and with the whole team.
And what should be first item on the agenda….every time?
Progress & Victories
Both the team member and the leader can contribute to this agenda item. Team member shares what they think they’ve achieved, has gone well and moved things forward positively. The leader also shares from their perspective the progress and victories they’ve noticed, tangible results-wise as well as attitude and behaviour.
If you’re not already doing this, I’d urge you to try it and see what impact it has. I’ve seen many managers and leaders instigate this as a regular practice and report back staggering results in terms of trust, motivation, positivity and productivity.
If you’re the leader, make it happen. If you are the team member, suggest to your boss that you give it a go.
It doesn’t have to be hours out in meetings. 20 minutes once a fortnight might be enough!
My right foot is slightly bigger than my left, hence finding shoes that are super comfortable for both feet can be a bit tricky. I’ve had to try on lots of pairs and discover particular brands that work for me.
Similarly, I didn’t instinctively know what kinds of work would be a good fit for me. I’ve had to try things out, take assessments and profiles (I’ve just about done them all!), consciously reflect on my experiences to identify when and where I’ve felt best about my work.
Here’s a few questions that you can ask yourself, or as a manager you can ask of your team members, to help discover their best fit:
What parts of your work do you enjoy most?
What areas of your work do you feel most enthusiastic about?
What do you care most about achieving?
What do you think you do best?
What do you find most stressful?
In what tasks do you procrastinate most?
There are plenty of others, but these are a good start.
Good fit is worth fighting for. It increases productivity, retention, motivation and morale. It reduces turnover and stress. It has a positive impact on mental and physical health.
It’s half term so there was no major rush getting everyone out the house this morning.
As I thought about the wonderful opportunity this presented for me to get my kids to do loads of useful stuff whilst they have all this time on their hands, that’s when the jolt of empathy hit! Don’t put adult expectations on 14, 12 and 10 year old children.
I used to love school holidays, especially the first morning. Lazing around…reading a bit…playing on the computer….all with no stress at all. Nothing to do and nowhere to be.
Yet here I was loading them up with my agenda of things to do! Don’t worry, I’ll still get them helping out with stuff…just with a bit more give first! I know that if I’m not so self-absorbed and enter into the joy of their world first, both they and I will get a much better result – more help, more willingness, less resistance, less conflict, more fun etc – than if I just launch ahead with what I want them to do.
I hope the jolt I was hit with might help you avoid making the same mistake I was rushing headlong into.
The personal feedback I shared in the last blog came as a result of a structured feedback exercise.
Just recently I was involved in facilitating a two-day graduate programme for a large employer. One of the most valued parts of that training was a structured (set up!) peer feedback exercise.
Giving and receiving feedback in an adhoc way as things happen is a vital skill, especially for managers. There is no reason though that building in feedback to the normal work cycle shouldn’t be done. When it’s systematic and structured it’s often easier for people to receive. Like the graduates’ exercise, they were expecting it; it was part of the programme; therefore it wasn’t personal – or at least it didn’t feel like personal attack!
If you structure feedback to come at the end of every project perhaps, or as part of a fortnightly line-manager/team member one-to-one, it’s much easier to prepare well both to give and receive with an open, constructive attitude.
Finding a good process for feedback is also extremely helpful. My favourite at the moment is the commonly-used ‘WWW / EBI’ format.
What went well. Even better if.
I’d love to hear it you have any others that you find work well.
A very brief article today based on this question: “Is it possible to over-encourage people?”
Yes, you need to have the confidence to confront poor behaviour and manager under-performance through clear communication and constructive conversations. Let’s take that as ‘sorted’.
Without that accountability it’s certainly possible to create a culture that is falsely positive, where poor attitudes and slack work habits go unchallenged.
But, assuming that’s in place because you have well-trained managers (if you don’t, give me a call and let’s get them well-trained!), is it possible to over-encourage or is it the case that the more praise, encouragement and generally positive inputs to the work environment, the better?
What do you reckon? And what will you stop doing, start doing and continue doing as a result?
I’m genuinely really interested to hear your thoughts.
Are you feeling rested, refreshed and energised to launch full-steam ahead into the Autumn? Perhaps for you or some colleagues, “exhausted and glad the kids are going back to school is more like it”?!
However you’re feeling as August comes to a close, the Autumn does tend to be a really productive – dare we say, ‘busy’ – few months where the natural lull in routine created by the summer gives way to full-scale activity.
Here’s a warning right away. As you well know, activity doesn’t equal productivity. Being busy and working hard doesn’t guarantee results.
With this in mind, my ‘one-percent’ recommendation is that you take some time to review and re-establish your routines – the regular habits that keep you on track. After a break in the norm, it can take more effort than we think to get back into good work habits rather than starting with email and seeing where the day takes us!
There are key activities that if practised routinely, make a huge difference to your productivity. Here are just a few examples:
– 10 magic minutes daily planning
– week review & planning meetings
– regular team meetings and one-to-one’s
– booked out periods of uninterrupted time
– finishing work at a set time to do other stuff!
I’m sure you could add to the list. Give it some thought and make a conscious effort (& book it it the diary!) to re-establish those routines that will help you stay a little bit more in control, focused on your high-payoff activities and working towards important goals over the next few months.
This week it’s five things I hear most often that people want from their manager.
1. Consistency – this includes handling problems and mistakes, treatment of different team members & general mood. We like to know that our leaders uphold consistent standards and to feel that we are treated fairly and with respect.
2. Communication – in a nutshell, nearly every conversation I have on this subject contains the sentiment, “I want my manager to communicate more.”
3. Clarity – I read a survey a while back that suggested one of the greatest causes of stress at work was unclear boundaries. We like to know what’s expected. We like to know what success looks like & to have something concrete to aim for. We like to know our roles & responsibilities, & those of our teammates. Strive for clarity wherever possible.
4. Involvement – On a recent day of staff interviews in preparation for designing a line-manager development programme for a company, the appreciation for managers who were present, visible, approachable and who understood what their team actually did day-to-day was huge. NB. This does not mean micro-management!
5. Feedback – for goodness sake, let us know how we’re doing! Are we on track? Are we doing great? What needs changing? Few things stir unrest like the negative annual appraisal that comes out of the blue. Make feedback regular and routine. Both positive and negative.
That’s your Friday Five for this week. Do you agree? Anything else that you’d have in your top five?
It’s been half-term for my kids which generally means it’s bit of a mixed week between work and other things…one of which has been getting my driveway done.
Before you get in any way impressed I should confess that my neighbour is a landscape gardener who’s been doing his own driveway…and I’ve just piggy-backed onto his project!
Without going into the whole shebang in great detail, a couple of things have stood out to me as the project neared completion.
I had a go at some aspects of the work on my own, with my own tools. It involved a couple of evenings well beyond the fall of darkness and some severely sore legs from all the crouching down.
Then I would watch the expert. He had the right tools and (more than) a bit of know-how and the difference in how quick and how well things got done was incredible. A circular saw instead of a hand-saw. A petrol whacker-plate. An open-backed Transit instead of my family-wagon with the seats down. I could go on.
The difference in progress (productivity) between me on my own – getting there but it’s a hard slog – and the expert with the right tools and plenty of experience was immense.
Leading people, teams and organisations can be much like this. You can get it done by instinct, common sense and what you’ve picked up from others along the way or get in the right tools, with some expert guidance and see much better results with less toil and in less time.
I share loads of these kinds of tools for free (one complimentary place for the first person from any organisation) at the Foundations of Success workshop. If you, like me with my driveway, know some help would make a huge difference, you’re very welcome to get along.
We often define change that we’d like to see, even implement change in a positive way. But how many times do things waver or even completely disintegrate so that 2 years, 2 months, even 2 weeks later, the initial enthusiasm and adherence of the new way has evaporated and things are back the way there were before.
In this video, taken from the Foundations of Success Workshop, I share one of LMI’s foundational concepts – the critical importance of securing lasting change through spaced repetition.