Most managers put in the necessary effort to be successful. Unfortunately, the gap between effort and positive results can be huge. What gets in the way? I’ve identified five fatal flaws of management.
Flaw #1: Unclear and inconsistent communication
Do you ever feel like nobody gets it? Do you get tired of always trying to clarify the meaning of what you say and apologizing for not saying what you mean?
Five ways to deliver a better message
- Know your objective.
- Be clear, specific and concise.
- State your point in 25 words or less.
- Check for understanding.
- Watch your body language.
Often the biggest stumbling block to good communication is poor listening. What can you do to improve your listening skills?
Five ways to be a better listener
- Eliminate distractions.
- Get rid of excess paper to reduce distractions at your desk.
- Know your blind spots (assumptions and prejudices).
- Be an active listener. Paraphrase, ask questions.
- Be an empathic listener. Listen for “context clues” within the message.
Flaw # 2: Failure to acknowledge change
In the business of management, you’re either moving forward or falling behind. Even if you don’t see changes on a daily basis, it doesn’t mean they’re not happening. Research shows that many managers ignore change for four reasons:
- Emotion (fear of the unknown, anger, uncertainty, mistrust)
- Perception (don’t see the need for change)
- Attitude (belief that most changes aren’t for the better)
- Reluctance (adopting a wait-and-see attitude)
Remember, your team will sense and react to change whether the manager chooses to accept it or ignore it. Communicate change using what I call the “Change Message Model”:
- State the change. Be clear, concise, truthful.
- Payoffs — why the change?
- Support — how are we going to get there?
- Optimism — be positive about the future.
Flaw #3: Managing everyone alike
Members of your staff each require a different level of care and attention, so it’s imperative that you adjust your management, coaching and mentoring skills to each individual person on your team. One way to do that is through developmental coaching, a personalized approach to growing, developing and motivating team members. Never assume that what’s important to one team member will be meaningful to the next.
One way to start the development coaching process is to take a SNAP shot:
- Strengths: What does your team member do well? What do they most enjoy doing?
- Next goals: What are the team member’s short- and long-term goals? What do they want to accomplish this year? What would they like to do better in the future?
- Assistance: How can I help them get there? What are the best ways for them to learn?
- Professional development: What skills would they like to improve or learn this year? What skills are necessary for them to meet their stated goals?
Flaw #4: Failure to establish clear expectations
- Make sure all tasks are clear and understood.
- At the beginning of the year, establish each individual’s performance appraisal criteria.
- Establish a contract with difficult employees to ensure success.
- Create smaller and achievable incremental goals that are measured on a monthly and quarterly basis.
- Provide variety in the scope of work.
- Form a sponsor or mentor program.
- Create individual development plans.
- Establish a quarterly review process for your team.
One approach is to ask each of your salespeople to create their own individual success formula. Questions to address include:
- What is your sales quota per month?
- What is your average order size?
- What is your close rate?
- What is the average length of your sales cycle?
- How many qualified prospects must you have in your pipeline at all times?
- How many suspects do you have to call to achieve your qualified pipeline?
Flaw #5: Poor time management
- Know what you want from your time.
- Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding and Timely) goals.
- Learn the difference between “urgent” and “important.”
- Know and respect your priorities.
- Plan your actions for achieving your goals.
- Schedule time for your tasks.
- Know how you spend your time.
- Analyze time-wasters.
These “best practices” should help you overcome the five fatal flaws of management and see much-improved results from your team.
Vistage speaker John Boyens heads the Boyens Group, a sales productivity, management effectiveness and business strategy firm based in Brentwood, Tenn.