What to do when the big boss changes the rules?

Within large corporations, senior managers can often find themselves caught between the decisions made by the board and how to get the best from their team in times of change. The responsibility for keeping their team happy and motivated whilst implementing to the ideas from above can leave any leader feeling somewhat isolated, with no obvious support mechanism.

For example, your Managing Director decides to change the way the sales team operates by reducing the number of accounts that each salesperson will focus on. You understand completely that this increased focus by your team should drive better results. However you know that your sales teams will feel constrained because they will see less opportunity for them to succeed. What should you do?

Firstly, be very clear about your views on the changes.  If you support the changes then you are more likely to communicate them in a positive way to the team. If you can’t see anything positive then speak to your boss to raise your concerns, and to get more information to be able to move into a positive mindset. This is vital if you are to be successful in convincing the team to adopt the new approach.

Next, pre-empt who will be impacted the most be these changes and establish what options you have to minimise that impact.

Once you have communicated the changes, listen to what your team is saying and if they have any concerns. Remember that listening is not just about being quiet and hearing what the person is saying. Give the person your full attention and be aware of both their facial expressions and body language, all of which can tell you a lot about how a person is feeling. Leaders who are able to really listen to their team create trustworthy and loyal relationships and make their team feel that they have their best interests at heart.

Understand your team’s concerns. Take the time to put yourself in their shoes, especially if they have a genuine complaint about the changes that are taking place. Sometimes people are scared to try something new and this is where your leadership skills come in. You must try and understand their worries while also encouraging them and showing them that the tasks are possible.  As the team leader you must also understand why the Managing Director has made the changes. For example, are they trying to focus the team, so their efforts are more productive, but the team feels their ‘sales creativity’ is being limited?

Discuss the team’s ideas with them. Listen to what they suggest. If you feel that your team are justified in their concerns then you may need to go back to the Managing Director to discuss this further. However, if you feel that these changes can be worked through then explain the changes to your team in more detail. Show your team you are flexible and willing to consider their thoughts.

Lastly, be positive. If the change is permanent then find a way to talk to your team about it in a positive way.  A demoralised team won’t function. As the team leader you must make this change a positive thing, make the goals clear, show how the job is feasible and possible, show them the positive results of this work. No one will work for an impossible goal.


October 23, 2014 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

I feel constantly over-worked. How can I get my life back without letting my team down?

Being a manager can be extremely challenging and stressful. It can require you to work long hours while constantly trying to whittle down your list of overwhelming tasks and prioritise other responsibilities, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With just a few simple steps you can have the work/life balance you have been yearning for without feeling like you are letting anyone down.

To get the right work/life balance, begin with prioritising. You don’t have to spend an equal amount of time on each, but make sure that the balance you choose is equal in importance. Sometimes work will take priority and you may need to spend extra hours working on an important project while at other times personal matters will be more pressing. Without this balance you will be less productive, stressed both at work and at home and the feeling of being overwhelmed will only increase.

Secondly, learn to manage your time. Set yourself realistic goals for the hours that you have available in your day and remember to allow yourself some extra time just in case there is a work based emergency. Make sure that you list all the jobs that you must accomplish each day and that the top priority tasks are listed first. Use calendars, to-do lists or anything else that will help you to plan your time more effectively.

Thirdly, delegate, as this will free up your time. Delegate entire objectives to other employees, giving the responsibility for the performance and the outcome to the employee. You can make sure that they know your expectations and you can also check the outcome, but you must leave the rest to them. Use a simple dashboard / traffic light system to monitor everything you have delegated. This allows you to focus on your own activities rather than worrying about what others are doing. Not only will this boost the moral of your team, but being able to delegate in this way will mean that your workload, as well as your stress levels, will be drastically reduced.

Finally, stress can affect your health, your relationships and your ability to perform in your job. Use some basic techniques to reduce stress, like getting enough sleep, exercising or even meditation. All are excellent ways to help reduce your stress levels and ensure you are performing to the best of your ability.

If you would like more help with balancing your workload and working effectively with your team get in touch with me today for a free consultation

August 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

What makes a winning team?

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Sir Alex Ferguson’s leadership style drove results for Manchester United. They won 38 trophies over his 26 seasons in charge! But at what cost?

Speaking at the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monte Carlo Sir Alex told business owners that effective leaders must be “ruthless”, and that “winning is all important”. His strategy was to focus on finding and developing young players, and we know this is essential in business too – but what is the best strategy for developing your winning team.

Sir Alex does admit to being ‘a bit of a dinosaur’ – could more flexibility and willingness to accept change have led to even greater success for the Reds?

His strong leadership style was followed by David Moyes’ softer approach and there is no doubt that this didn’t work. Moyes went for a more hands-off approach where players were given more say over their play. Unfortunately after years of being told exactly where, how and when to play the game the Man United team weren’t ready to take responsibility for their own performance.

It was then announced that Louis van Gaal would take over as Manager at Manchester United after the FIFA World Cup, where he managed the Dutch National Team. Van Gaal is known for his ‘abrasive’ management style, and it was thought that perhaps this is what it takes to get the best out of the Manchester United team? He’s certainly experienced success at the World Cup where the Dutch teambeat Spain, Australia and Chile to top Group B. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to have the same success with Man United…and next up is another ‘tough cookie’ Jose Mourinho.

Conversely Roy Hodgson’s England team failed to win a single match despite playing well. Hodgson is very much an ‘old school coach’ (like Sir Alex), he’s most at home in his tracksuit working with the team. He’s a big fan of teamwork, development through praise rather than telling off and two-way communication. He’s developed a reputation as ‘the nicest man in football’, but although his theory seems sound it has led to major disappointed for England this year, proving that winning is still important.

So what is the answer? How can you get the best out of a team, whether in football or business? The answer is in the team itself. How do you get them to do the right things and still win? You can’t apply one management style to everyone. Each individual needs something slightly different and it’s knowing what they need that makes a successful team, a successful manager and means you deliver at the business end of the pitch!

July 3, 2014 at 11:39 am Leave a comment

The effect of the wrong role

It is easy to end up in the wrong place (role) at the wrong time.  You keep working at it, because you don’t want it to fail and because changing your job will inevitably cause BIG changes in your life. However being in the wrong role, can cause huge stress for you, your colleagues or team and your family.

Walking away from the wrong job is not an occasion for sadness and disappointment, it is an opportunity for joy! Look around you at the people you know who LOVE their jobs – how are they different from you? They’re not…they just had the confidence to say ‘no’ to the wrong roles and ‘yes’ to the right one.

It is exponentially more important for leaders to enjoy what they do, as it has such an impact on their teams, the business and ultimately their own success. A leader who loves their job will be motivated, enthusiastic and driven.

As a leader you need to:-

  • Set a vision for your team and have a clear strategy to achieve it
  • Give your team responsibility by delegating goals and objectives (not tasks)
  • Be enthusiastic about your team developing themselves
  • Recognise and recruit people who are better than you are at specialist skills
  • Help, empower and coach your team to be the best they can and succeed

Here are 10 signs to look for, which mean you could be in the wrong role :-

  • You find the role difficult and often make mistakes
  • You feel like you don’t fit in with your colleagues
  • You don’t talk about your work to friends and family
  • You get poor feedback from your team and superiors
  • You are ‘just doing it for the money’
  • You can’t be yourself
  • You feel bored and are easily distracted
  • You dread Sunday evenings because Monday morning means work
  • You don’t dream of promotion and career advancement
  • You watch the clock, waiting for 5:30pm to come

If you are in the wrong role, make a change and you could be a winner!

If you are still not sure whether you are in the wrong role, or you lead people who you think might be in the wrong role, contact us to discover how we can answer those questions for you.

June 10, 2014 at 11:02 am Leave a comment

Husband and Wife Teams

I have worked with a number of husband and wife teams, many of whom have been effective and successful.  But not without some challenges to overcome, due to the complex nature of their ‘multi-faceted’ relationships.

Whether they run their own business(es), or work in the same company, or even the same team, the first hurdle is to separate their work and their home lives.  Really separate them, as in removing any emotional baggage that has taken place at home when they come into work – not easy!

One way to help is to review how our couples are motivated at work, to enable them to have a deeper understanding of what makes each other tick.  Combine this with clear business goals and the right skills and they can be really focussed on business success.  That is providing they can switch off when they leave the office!

For example, one half of a couple, who ran multiple businesses together, as well as separate businesses, decided to set up a new business.  They knew this would take some time to build and ring-fenced the time to enable them to do so.  However, they soon found themselves under financial pressure from their spouse.

When we looked at their motivation profiles it was clear that one was more focussed on money and the other on quality and customer service.  This was clearly causing some conflict, so it was a relief to both to find out the reason behind it.  They were delighted to find that the common ground between their two opposing views was both achievable and very productive for the businesses.  It also enabled them to ‘park’ external factors and really focus on business outcomes.

Of course many teams can find themselves in similar situations to our couples, in fact being in a team can feel like a marriage at times!  Most, if not all, issues can be resolved by understanding what makes each other tick.  Simple, quick and effective!

May 16, 2013 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment

What does your team think of you?

Whenever we run a motivation review for team development we get to hear and see what team members think of their leader – with fascinating results.

We know that staff make plenty of assumptions about their leaders.  After all, leaders see all, hear all, know all, do all…….don’t they?  I mean, a leader would never have a problem with confidence, would they?

So it’s no surprise (to us!) that 99% of teams are unable to identify what motivates their boss.  Perhaps they are too busy looking down to look up.  Those that do look up will see ‘management behaviours’, which imply certain motivators.  However the leader is likely to be using their skills to adapt their behaviours, which may cause some internal conflict with their motivators.

That perception by staff could be very limiting when it comes to communication, collaboration, influencing and even career prospects for each individual.

With a little insight, the team can actually make their boss’s life easier, while enjoying their own roles so much more.  That sounds like a win/win to me……

March 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Banning working from home…

Many large corporations are moving away from the ‘working from home’ concept, with companies like Yahoo banning it altogether.  Unfortunately many employyes will leave their positions in reaction to these new policies.  A one-size-fits-all approach to working hours and conditions is likely to backfire.

Knowing how to motivate your team is vital if you are in pursuit of the greatest productivity.  Dynamic, forward-thinking organisations recognise the value of offering flexible working practices.  They reap the rewards from highly engaged staff who feel motivated and perform their roles to the best of their abilities.  This also lowers staff turnover and thus recruitment and training costs.

Others don’t give the flexibility they could, probably due to poor leadership and management practices and lack of trust.  This leads to some staff feeling de-motivated and under-performing.  Or they might even leave.

However, the ones who will leave first are likely to be some of your best people.  They are confident, competent and are likely to be sought after by your competitors.

The key thing is that some individuals love flexibility, others love being in the office and some like a mixture of both.  So your flexible working policy needs to incorporate the needs of each individual, and what makes them tick.

And your leaders need to be able to get the best from every individual, wherever they work.

Do you understand what makes your people tick, so you can make the most of flexible working in your team?

March 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm Leave a comment

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Alan Adair

Contact Details

Alan Adair

Extra Dimension
Helping you and your teams to be more engaged, motivated and effective.

21 Pelican House
Stone Close
BH15 4GE

Tel 01202 830047

Email alan.adair@extradimension.co.uk


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