The only constant is change and never more so than with the current need to juggle all the issues, risks, demands, people and indeed the future of your business. To keep all the balls in the air, you need to concentrate on the three major roles you as a Manager have to apply.
When planning you need to take a long-term view to ensure your business goals are identified, planned and prioritised wisely. Before you start any planning activity you must stop and think:
- What is my overall objective?
- How can it be achieved?
- What are the alternatives?
- Who needs to be involved?
- What will it cost?
- Is it worth doing?
When you have finalised your plan and are moving to implementation, you need to ensure that it is working. You must find ways of monitoring your progress, even if it is just setting deadlines for intermediate stages, or counting customer replies / complaints, conducting staff training and development or tracking the number of breakages which are a cost to the business etc. Whatever it is, choose something which shows clear progress against your set performance criteria and establish a solid verifiable measurement procedure.
In this role you gather and analyse key information and data metrics required to run the business. Accurate and reliable information is absolutely vital. Surveys of decision making in companies reveal that rapid and decisive decisions normally stem, not only from intuitive and extraordinary leadership, but rather from the existence of an established information system covering the relevant data. Managers who have and know the full information can quickly reach an informed decision.
Gathering information is not enough on its own, you have to process it and be aware of the implications. The trick is to try to predict the next logical step from any changes and anticipated changes you see. A great way of generating information and to include your colleagues in the process is to engage in “what if” scenarios. Have an informal gathering over coffee and put forward a pertinent business related question and brainstorm. List all suggestions, this is not a ‘right or wrong’ scenario, it is a brainstorming session where there are no limitations to the thinking of your colleagues. As a second level to these scenarios, move to asking “what can go wrong?” By deliberately trying to identify potential problems you will prevent many and possibly compensate for many more.
As the title suggests, in this role you provide security to your employees and to your customers. In any business, there are short-term challenges which can deflect your employees from the important issues and which can also impact on your customer’s satisfaction levels. You need to guard against these and to protect the team and your customer base. If someone in your team has a problem at work which is impacting on other colleagues, productivity, quality of service etc. you need to identify the cause and to find a sustainable solution.
Great managers are those who challenge the status quo and who are prepared to lead their teams forward towards a unified business and towards their personal visions. They are the ones who recognise problems, seize opportunities, and create their own future and who inspire their people to create their futures also.
Try to assess yourself in the three roles described above and determine what role you spend most time in, and why.
Remember, if you cannot manage yourself, you will have great difficulty managing your people and indeed your business!
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