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Management tip of the day

  1. Management Tip of the Day
  2. Take Control of Your To-Do List  Having an unruly to-do list can be overwhelming. If you find yourself rushing around, but not actually getting anything done, try the following process:  Write it all down. Put everything on one list. Determine which tasks are easy and which are more difficult.  Do some easy things. Spend 15 minutes doing the easy tasks. Focus on speed: make the quick phone calls, shoot off the brief emails. Cross as many tasks off the list as you can.  Turn to a bigger task. Turn off your phone, close all the open windows on your computer, and focus on one of the more challenging tasks. Do this for 35 minutes without distraction.  Take a break. After 35 minutes, take a 10-minute break. Then return to step two. 14/12/2011
  3. The Right Way to Issue a Company Apology  When your company messes up, avoid the half-hearted, half-baked apology. Instead craft a clear, strategic message that explains what went wrong and how you're rectifying the situation. Here are three tips for doing that:  Keep it simple. Get to the point and don't deviate. Don't include any veiled attempts to shirk responsibility or appease investors. You'll just upset customers and muddle the message.  Mean what you say, and say what you mean. If you're truly sorry for your company's actions, say so and leave it at that. Avoid clarifying phrases and long, self-lauding explanations.  Reaffirm your company's core values. Reaffirm what your company stands for and communicate how you intend to bring the company back to the values that guided it to success in the first place. 14/12/2011
  4. 3 Ways to Get People to Change  You can change strategy, products, and processes all you want, but real change doesn't take hold until your employees actually change what they do every day. That's easier said than done. Here are three ways to take on the challenge:  Embrace the power of one. People need clear direction. If you bombard them with eight values or twelve competencies you want them to practice, expect the status quo. Instead, focus on changing one behavior at a time.  Paint a vivid picture. Use stories, metaphors, pictures, and physical objects to compare "where we are now" to the new vision of the future. This taps into people's emotions, a powerful lever for change.  Activate peer pressure. Peers can set expectations, shame others, or provide role models. Ask your employees to set high standards and put pressure on one another to stick to the new rules. 09/01/2013
  5. Forget Self-Esteem. You Need Self-Compassion Self-esteem has long been considered the bedrock of individual success. But high self-esteem may not be all that it's cracked up to be. Thinking you're great (which of course you are) comes with pressure to live up to your own self- image. You may live in quiet terror of making mistakes, and even worse, feel devastated when you do. When faced with a challenge, you don't need to believe in your own brilliance as much as you need to confront your flaws head on. Develop self-compassion, a willingness to look at your own shortcomings with kindness and understanding. With a realistic sense of your abilities and actions, you can figure out what needs to be done differently next time. Being perfect doesn't lead to success, but being able to avoid the same mistake twice does. 09/01/2013
  6. Regain Your Focus  Multitasking may speed you through your to-do list, but it also makes you more likely to make mistakes and less likely to retain information. Here are three ways to focus:  Think good thoughts. Positive emotions improve the brain's executive function and encourage creative and strategic thinking. Improve your emotional balance by actively thinking about things that make you happy.  Ban distractions. Be aware of what steals your attention. When disrupted, make a conscious choice to return to the task at hand.  Leave things behind. When you turn to a new task, part of your brain is still thinking about the last one. Before starting something new, go for a walk, climb stairs, or do some deep breathing to clear your head. 16/04/2013
  7. Act with Care When Someone Cries at Work  It's natural to feel helpless or uncomfortable when someone cries in front of you in the office. But remember that tears are a normal human reaction, not a sign of weakness. If someone you work with starts to well up, here's how to handle it:  Acknowledge the tears. Don't ignore them. Use the occasion to analyze and assess what's going on, not judge the crier.  Offer a tissue. This gives the person a chance to breathe and gather thoughts. It also communicates that you're paying attention.  Recognize a problem. Crying means something needs to be addressed: The person is overworked, stressed, sick, or frustrated. This is an opportunity to identify the underlying issue and move forward with clarity 17/04/2013
  8. 3 Rules for Making Your Writing Clear  In business writing, you get points for clarity, not style. Instead of trying to wax poetic about your division's plans for the next 60 days, just make your point. Here are three ways to do that:  One idea per paragraph. Novels hold several complex ideas and emotions in a single paragraph. In business writing, limit your thoughts to one per paragraph. When you have another suggestion, thought or idea, start a new paragraph.  Put your point in the first sentence. Don't entice your readers with background information and build-up. No one has time for that. Make your primary point first. Then go into supporting detail.  Make it "scannable." Few people read every word in an email. Use headers and bullet points so that your audience can quickly scan your message and understand your point. 17/06/2013
  9. 3 Tips for Leading People Older Than You  Seniority no longer reigns in today's organizations. In fact, it's not uncommon to manage people 10 or 20 years older than you. Leading is hard enough when you have experience on your side. Here are three ways to make sure your age doesn't betray you:  Be confident. Start strong. Don't qualify your statements or ideas. Speak with conviction and assume that your ideas are good ones.  Be open-minded. Balance your poise with an open mind. Put your proposals out there and then solicit opinions and ideas. Give your colleagues a voice.  Ask for feedback regularly. Make sure people know you care about continuous improvement. They'll be more likely to give you useful feedback about your performance. 02/07/2013
  10. How to Handle an Abusive Client  Some clients are demanding; others are downright rude. If you’re not in a position to stop working with a difficult person, prepare yourself instead. Expect your greedy, selfish, or angry client to act poorly so you won’t be caught off guard. When you sense that he is about to say something hurtful, say to yourself: "Here it comes." After he delivers the blow, take a deep breath and pause until he realizes he hasn’t provoked you into losing your cool. Then say something like, "Say that again?" or "Do you really mean what you just said?" This is often enough to cause him to reflect on his behavior and change his approach. If not, at least you didn’t get flustered. The conversation may still be stressful, but preparing keeps you from being blindsided. 11/07/2013
  11. Don’t Be Late for That Meeting  When you can text or email a colleague and let her know you’re running late, it’s easy to push back meetings. This ability to quickly communicate is helpful when you’re unavoidably detained, but overusing it has costs. One study found that staff lateness costs the UK economy £9 billion per year. There's something to be said for old-fashioned punctuality. Sixty years ago, it was important to keep commitments because there was less opportunity to reschedule on the fly. But even in this era of always-on technologies, being on time is important. It keeps you focused. It conveys to others that you’re reliable. And it shows respect for the people who don’t have to waste their time waiting on you. 06/08/2013
  12. Stop Thinking Like You Always Have  To surface groundbreaking ideas, you need to challenge the long-held beliefs the people at your company hold about doing business. Here’s how to kill the status quo:  Impose artificial limitations. It may seem counterintuitive, but this can spark creativity. By enforcing mock constraints – for example, focusing exclusively on existing customers – you are forced to dig deeper to uncover more inventive solutions.  Compare your organization to others. See how your company’s best practices stack up against others, especially those outside your industry. This is not about emulating others; it's about stimulating new ideas that might not come to light otherwise.  Look for unorthodox opportunities. Don't confine your creative thinking to products or services. Instead, consider every touch point between you and your customers to improve how they interact with your organization. 27/08/2013
  13. Leaders, Stop These Behaviors Now  If you want to empower, engage, or motivate others, don't just focus on increasing your positive behaviors. Pay attention to the things you need to stop doing at the same time. Here are three to avoid:  Judgmental body language. No one likes perceived condescension. Watch out for scowling, furrowed brows, and quizzical or sarcastic looks (as if to say, “Are you stupid?”). While seemingly harmless, each of these subtle darts creates a considerable amount of relationship damage.  Interrupting. It's almost impossible for people to feel safe if the boss takes up most of the airtime or cuts people off. Do more listening than talking, and let people finish their thoughts.  Being inconsistent. It’s hard on employees to wonder who is going to show up: "smiling, charming, funny boss" or "judgmental, intense, snapping manager." Try to keep your tone and personality consistent so people know what to expect. 31/08/2013
  14. Find a Champion for Your Business Case  When preparing a case for a new project or initiative, be sure you have someone at a senior level who will lobby for it. Look at each member of the committee: Whose goals and concerns will your project most directly address? Reach out and ask what his or her department is trying to achieve in the coming year. Get a sense of what big projects are under way and which efforts need more support. Explain how your initiative can help fill in gaps or address trouble spots. Of course, having someone influential on your side does little good without a strong case that meets a business need, a solid project concept, and well thought-out financials. If any of those elements are missing, even a powerful champion can’t help you. 25/09/2013
  15. Help Your Company Cut Back on Email  You can’t control how many emails you receive, but you can control how many you send. In a recent study, one firm’s workers followed suit when their executives reduced overall email output. You can spark a similar reduction and improve efficiency across your organization by doing the following:  Choose the right medium. Consider whether your communication merits a phone call or in-person meeting, where vocal tone and body language provide real-time feedback on how clearly a message is being understood.  Be deliberate. Don’t forward messages unless strictly necessary, and limit the number of recipients on each outgoing note.  Make it real. Set a target for reducing the number of messages you send. Include it in your performance goals to keep yourself honest. 27/09/2013
  16. Make Good Decisions Faster  A simple approach can help replace your slow deliberations with fast decisions. Try this framework:  Know your ultimate objective. The biggest hurdle to fast decisions is criteria overload. Of the seven or eight possible objectives you would love to meet, which one or two will make the biggest impact? Consider which stakeholder you least want to disappoint—which goal would they care about most?  Get a second opinion. Asking one other person can broaden your frame of reference and help eliminate judgment errors. Plus, the act of explaining your situation anew often gives you fresh insights.  Do something. Select one option while letting go of all the other "good" ones. No amount of deliberation can guarantee that you have identified the "right" option, but remember: The purpose of a decision is not choose perfectly, but to get you to the next decision. 27/09/2013
  17. 3 Tips to Build Better Relationships with Your Employees  When people feel connected to you, even difficult conversations feel less threating. Here are three tips to forge stronger bonds with your employees:  Relate whenever you can. View every interaction as an opportunity to get to know someone a little better. Make a habit of asking employees one question about their work or their personal lives each time you encounter them.  Take note of subtleties. People seek emotional connection through countless small “bids” for attention—questions, gestures, or looks. Take stock of how much you notice these cues . You might also solicit some feedback from friends and family on how well you listen and respond to social cues in general.  Regularly express appreciation. Research shows that the ratio of positive to negative interactions is 5:1 in a successful relationship. You don’t need to pay someone five compliments before offering criticism, but do be mindful of the ratio 01/10/2013
  18. Make a Plan for Professional Growth  With the right strategies, even the busiest leaders can find the time for development. But to make that effort fruitful, you need to determine what types of development will increase both personal fulfillment and value to your firm. To come up with the right possibilities, try these techniques:  Look over your job description for activities that you would love to pursue, but haven’t gotten to yet.  Think about the dreams that you had for your current position before you started. What did you hope to accomplish?  Set up a lunch or coffee with people in similar positions, either at your company or at a different company, and ask how they invest in learning. 11/10/2013
  19. Tackle the Tough Business of Hiring New Employees  Responsibility for talent management is increasingly shifting from HR to frontline executives—and hiring may be the single hardest task in of them all. Screening applicants is expensive, and a glut might actually signal poor recruiting. Set apart your best fits by urging away unsuitable candidates (for example, in the job listing’s requirements) or communicating the ways in which your organization isn’t for everyone. Because the process is so rife with variables— candidates may overstate their qualifications and many managers are subject to personal biases—some hiring managers opt to simply outsource it. And unless you regularly hire for similar types of jobs or operate on a very large scale, you’ll probably get better results if outside recruiters gather applicants and winnow the field to a small number from which you can select. 14/10/2013
  20. 3 Simplifying Tips to Increase Productivity  All organizations are slowed down by unnecessary behaviors that choke productivity. These practices can help you clear some of it away:  Pick up the phone. An email chain can be a useful reference, but it frequently takes more time to write an email than to have a conversation. Conversations can get your questions answered immediately and prevent future back-and-forth messages.  Encourage streamlining. Ask your employees: What meetings can we eliminate? What reports can we stop doing? What steps in a process can be removed? Let your team know that their suggestions won’t be taken as complaints but as creative ideas for improving productivity.  Stop reviewing low-impact work. It’s wise to thoroughly review documents being sent to potential clients, but not all work products are mission-critical. Tell your team that it’s their responsibility to ensure their own quality control — and that you trust them to do a great job. 23/10/2013
  21. Don’t Extend the Deadline—Plan Better  You may want to rethink postponing that deadline. Although it’s a relief to be “given” more time, we rarely use extensions wisely; instead, we lose motivation, procrastinate, and wind up facing the same situation again later. Address poor time planning with these tips:  Shorten the distance to your ultimate goal. This will keep motivation high, and keep the pressure on for procrastinators. Impose interim deadlines, breaking a larger objective up into mini- targets spaced out strategically in time. These deadlines need to be meaningful, though— if it’s no big deal to miss the deadline, then it’s not a real deadline.  Become a realistic judge of how longs things will take. Consider how long it’s taken to complete similar projects in the past, and try to identify the ways in which things might not go as planned. Break the project down in detail, estimating the time needed to complete each step and allowing for snags in your schedule. 13/11/2013
  22. Give Feedback Like a Sports Coach  As a manager, you play different roles at different times – but the job of a manager, just like that of a coach or teacher, is to inspire people to be better. Most people respond better to encouragement than to criticism, so give praise when you can. According to Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the most successful coaches in sports history, nothing is better than hearing: “Well done.” He says, “Those are the two best words ever invented. You don’t need to use superlatives.” At the same time, giving clear criticism is important when your team members don’t meet expectations. If you are too soft in your approach, you won’t be effective – but showing your anger all the time doesn’t work, either. There’s no point in harping on criticism; pick your moment, do it right away, and consider it done. Your timing and tone matter. 13/11/2013
  23. How to Manage Someone You Don’t Like  If you’re like most leaders, you probably gravitate towards direct reports who act nice and don’t deliver bad news. But it’s often those who provoke or challenge you—the people you like less—who prompt new insights and help propel the group to success. When you dislike an employee you might—consciously or not—mismanage him, treat him unfairly, or fail to see the real benefit he can deliver. To get the most out of someone you don’t like:  Learn how to handle your frustration. Don’t let your distaste show. Everyone wants their boss to like them, and your employee might presume that any disapproval has to do with his performance. Remain fair, impartial, and composed.  Check your bias. If you’re having trouble being fair, seek counsel from another manager who is familiar with the employee’s work. Ask whether your evaluation matches the outsider’s.  Keep an open mind. It might help to spend more time with the problem employee, perhaps by collaborating on a difficult task. Remember that perspectives change, and your favorite employee today might become your least favorite tomorrow. 13/11/2013
  24.  Motivate Your Customer-Experience Team Outstanding customer experience requires motivated, empowered frontline employees. To engage your customer-experience team and motivate them to provide an exceptional customer experience:  Hire for attitude, not aptitude — and then reinforce attitude. To get friendly service, hire friendly people. Recruit frontline staff with a natural service bent by conducting group interviews. Seeing how applicants interact with one another will help you assess their communication and people skills.  Focus on purpose, not rules. Rules are necessary, but they go only so far. To motivate employees and give meaning to their work, define your company’s purpose: a succinct explanation of the intended customer experience that resonates at an emotional level. When you set clear expectations and trust your people to do their jobs, they’ll feel valued and empowered – and they’ll go that extra mile through passion, not compliance. 01/02/2014
  25.  Tweak Your To-Do List to Really Get Things Done  Deciding in advance when and where you will complete a task can double or triple your chances of actually doing it. Add a specific when and where to each task on your list. For example, “Call Bob” becomes “Tuesday after lunch, I’ll call Bob from my desk.” By creating a specific plan for calling Bob, you can seize the critical moment and make the call, even when you’re busy doing other things. You’ve already done the hard work of deciding what to do — now you can execute the plan without consciously thinking about it. 02/02/2014
  26.  Blast Through an Email Onslaught:  Email is one of the biggest productivity challenges that executives face. Sorting through the daily barrage consumes a ridiculous amount of valuable time that could be spent elsewhere. But this is a solvable problem if you learn how to efficiently manage your everyday communications.  Don’t check your email incessantly; only look at it every hour or two.  Discipline yourself to read only the subject matter so that you can discard irrelevant or unimportant messages right away. You can purge more than half of incoming messages this way.  Practice “OHIO” — Only Handle It Once. Immediately decide what to do with each email, and answer important ones quickly instead of filing them away. Because once you’re finally ready to tackle them, you’ll spend half an hour just searching through folders. 01/04/2014
  27.  Get Specific When Giving Credit  Most of us have witnessed moments when credit was given unfairly – a supervisor unabashedly claims credit for his invisible staff’s work, or a quiet performer is inadequately recognized for her contribution. This damages organizational culture and deflates employee motivation. (Why expend the effort if no one will recognize it?) If you regularly award credit to deserving individuals, people will see that the system is fair, and this will drive performance.  Recognize those who recognize others. Thanking team members who highlight others’ efforts shows that you value generous and honest attribution of credit.  Elevate the quiet heroes. Quiet contributors are seldom concerned with taking credit, but making an effort to reward them will create a sense of integrity in your organization.  Remember there’s plenty of credit to go around. There are no limits to how many individuals can be recognized for contributing to an outcome, but recognition loses meaning when everyone (even slackers) gets it. Specific attributions of credit always trump blanket statements of praise. 10/04/2014
  28.  Time Is a Midsize Company’s Most Valuable Resource  While poor time management hurts any firm, it’s especially pernicious at midsize companies. These companies must move quickly to make up for smaller competitors’ agility, but they also need to tackle big projects to compete with larger firms. Time, not money, is the most important resource for midsized firms.  Honor deadlines from the top down. Project management is worthless if the CEO disrespects deadlines. Make missing deadlines unacceptable at every level. Promote your best time-managers, and make the consequences of missing deadlines clear.  Ruthlessly cut projects until only critical ones remain. When a company tries to do too much with too few resources, projects inevitably end up late, mediocre, or unfinished.  Be transparent about a project’s status. In midsize companies, core projects affect every department since the business isn’t big. Leaders must keep team members informed about advances and setbacks, including missed deadlines, to assess the project’s overall progress. 31/05/2014
  29.  Keep Your Meeting from Going Off-Track  You can follow all the guidelines for holding an effective meeting, but things can still go wrong. The best way to handle problems is to prepare ahead of time and to intervene at the right moment to get things back on track.  Think about the attendees. Is there a windbag in your group? Ask him to focus his comments on a particular aspect. A constant critic? Have the person lead part of the discussion. Someone with a habit of being late? Give her a job to do during the session.  Make sure everyone has a turn. If one person is hogging the conversation, walk closer and closer to him. This draws group attention to you and away from the speaker. Thank him and call on someone else.  Don’t be afraid of silence. Allow silence for one minute – people might need time to process. Ask if you should clarify something, or if there’s an issue people are avoiding. Take a short refocus break, or if people seem worn out, reschedule. 31/05/2014