How to improve your satellite leadership and management

Establishing a company culture is a long process that takes continuous effort to embed it. It is easiest when everyone works in the same place but in an organisation with physically disparate teams, it can be difficult for a culture to take hold and even more difficult to sustain it.

Here we look at four habits for you to adopt for effective satellite management.

  1. The process plants the seeds

For any company culture to take hold, there has to be an agreed way of working. Everyone needs to understand it and there has to be consistency in its implementation. There can be some latitude from departments or regions in how the detail of the process is executed, but it has to feel like one company with one way of working before you can successfully create a company culture. Get your processes clear.

  1. Walk the floor

In large organisations, it can be difficult for CEOs to be visible, but it’s an effort worth making. A regular walk through your departments can lead to interesting conversations and opportunities for improvement. If you physically are separated from all your teams, make sure the management in those areas takes the time to walk the floor. For all your offices, schedule in regular visits for yourself too. This ensures that you are seen evangelising about the future and the vision for the organisation – demonstrating your authenticity and belief that it is the right way forward. Being visible to everyone in your organisation helps get your vision across more than the occasional ‘email edict from above.’

  1. Sweat the small stuff

Although it is a manager’s job to focus on the bigger, long-term strategic issues, often it’s the small stuff that can trip up entire organisations and can get in the way of people feeling like part of a larger team. Small daily niggles like car parking, communal kitchens and office temperature can fall between the cracks in terms of who is responsible but they affect the morale of entire teams. When a senior manager from another floor/department/region steps in to address small but critical issues, it sends out a positive message about the priorities of the company.

  1. Don’t force it

Putting a table tennis table in the break room does not make your office a great place to work. Good HR, clear vision, regular open communications, fair treatment and enjoyable roles have more of a part to play in establishing a good company culture than trendy gimmicks. Put the foundations down first, then stand back and let the team build on them.

By implementing these four techniques into your managerial strategy, you can improve your role as a leader company-wide.

What does the ‘promised land’ look like?

“And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

You can hear the passion in his voice, even when simply reading the quote in your head. It’s emotive, aspirational and probably nothing like the content of what was said in your last all-staff meeting, but the difference between being a boss and being a true leader comes down to this ability to create the vision and then motivate everyone to work every day in order to achieve it.

Seeing the promised land

When defining the vision for your organisation, you have to put some thought into what will motivate your team enough to help deliver it. A cold financial target is unlikely to do that, but a vision where everyone can definitively see a clear benefit for themselves as well as the organisation will improve the likelihood of you reaching that “promised land”. The vision can be hugely ambitious, but as long as there is a map of how you are going to get there, your team will follow you on the journey. The vision does not have to be glib or be a corporate cliché either. For example, Honda’s vision in the 1970s was simply: “We will destroy Yamaha.” It’s a clear statement of intent that everyone at every level, could get behind.

Reaching the promised land

So how do you get there? Every aspect of your organisation should be closely examined with the vision in mind. Do you recruit the type of people who are going to get you there? If not, why not? Where are they and how do you get them? Do customers trust your brand enough to allow you to support that growth? If not, how are you going to change that? Are your IT systems and internal communications and processes fit-for-purpose? How are they going to cope with the journey to your promised land? Are your managers adequately trained to provide the leadership necessary to fulfil your vision?

Many of these changes will be painful to achieve and there are few quick solutions, but that’s why it is too difficult for most. Every day the organisation needs to move closer to that vision and be reminded why it is doing so. It’s long, slow and hard work that needs constant oversight, but that’s what the leader does – keeps everyone focused on the promised land.

Good luck on your journey.

To find out how St Andrews Consulting could help you become a true leader and drive your business towards the promised land, contact us today.

Are you spending enough time in the top right hand box?

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is one of those simple-yet-effective leadership tools that crops up in leadership skills circles all the time, although sometimes under a different name. The idea was derived from an Eisenhower quote, ‘What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.’ As leaders, we can often end up dealing with the top left-hand corner of the matrix – things that are both important and urgent. Crises, deadlines or problems demand our team’s immediate attention and send stress levels soaring.

But always reacting can become a pattern.

Fighting fires in the top left-hand box isn’t the way to get fewer fires; the way to do that is to spend more time in the top right-hand box with tasks that are important, but not urgent. Why? Because it is these tasks – discussing progress, considering new strategies and, of course, planning – which will have the most influence on whether we end up in crisis again. If we consider Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the first three habits all take place in that top right-hand box.

1 – Be proactive

2 – Begin with the end in mind

3 – First things first.

None of these rules are reactive. They are all about making sure you do the important things and lay your foundations.

It could be said that spending all your time in the top left hand box means that you are spending all your time in management activities. Whereas the important stuff to do with strategic leadership sits in the top right hand box.

Not everyone is comfortable up in the planning box, though.

Good leaders know that different team members are motivated in different ways. You’ll have someone on your team who only wants to plan but really struggles to react to rapidly changing circumstances. There will be others who can only work at their best when deadlines loom and crises are imminent. However, as their leader, it does not matter what your personal preference is, it is vitally important that you spend time in your top right corner. Nurturing your relationships with team members will help you to know who you can give which tasks to, making sure that the natural planners are working to their strengths, whereas more reactive members have more time and space to fight fires.

If you’re starting to feel like your team is always reacting, and if it’s a never-ending story of close deadlines, crises or unexpected events, then try spending some more time in that top right-hand corner – that is where the real magic happens.

When was the last time you went out to lunch together?

“Once a month, go to lunch with someone who knows more about your business than you do.” Author H Jackson Brown.

Working days are getting longer and there is pressure on business decision-makers to make every minute of the day count. Lunch is for wimps, right?

That is not true if you want to build trust, team spirit and connect to fellow executives and staff in a meaningful way.

Lunch is for leaders. Two of the most important attributes leaders need to demonstrate to their teams are competence and warmth. You undoubtedly get the best out of people not just by being super-efficient and skilled, but also by building authentic working relationships that help build trust.

Taking time out of your working day to fully engage is a solid investment in a strong working relationship.

Let’s face it, most people open up and relax more when they are eating in a restaurant or canteen while making general conversation. This doesn’t have to be idle chit-chat. Taking time to breathe, relax and chat can throw up all sorts of workplace opinions, thoughts, ideas and anecdotes you might otherwise miss out on.

A crucial tool in a business leader’s box is intelligence from the sharp end of the organisation. No matter how many staff focus groups, appraisals, board meetings and other structured methods you use, it is sometimes hard to get to grips with what your team is really thinking and feeling. It is only by spending time with them that you can start getting behind what is being said in more formal environments.

Over lunch they could feel on an equal level with you, and are able to be more honest and open.

Even if the conversation is about last night’s television or Donald Trump’s latest exploits, that time spent chatting over lunch is an investment in revitalising your team, making them feel appreciated and listened to.

If you treat people like robots, then that’s what you will get. If you connect with them on a personal level, and make them feel valued, then you build loyalty and commitment, two things that only come to executives who earn it.

St Andrews Consulting develops teams and develops people, helping them to find their full potential, and we know how important it is to be able to show both competence and warmth. If you want to know more about this, then we would be happy to take you to lunch one day!

How the mood in the boardroom affects an organisation

Your attitudes, values, emotions, and moods will influence how you behave, whatever situation you are in. How you feel about a particular task that day will directly affect how much effort you put into it and, consequently, the success of that task.

The impact of the mood in the boardroom

Attitudes and moods have the same impact in the workplace, particularly when it comes from  the boardroom. If there is divergence and conflict within the senior management team of an organisation, that mood will quickly permeate through all levels of the organisation.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how big your organisation is, the team at the top should cultivate an ethos in which common values and a common vision are shared. If this is achieved, people working at all levels within the company will replicate their manager’s and team leader’s behaviours.

The consequence of a less than enthusiastic or discordant management team is often reflected in poor staff engagement and silo working which results in reduced performance and output. At the extreme, it may result in low morale and high staff turnover. In contrast, a company whose management are clearly enthusiastic and sharing a common vision of the future tends to have employees who are keen to stay and work that bit harder within the organisation. Workers are also more likely to become involved with non-job related activities and social events as they want to deepen the relationships with their colleagues..

Productivity and customer satisfaction

Your employees feed on the enthusiasm and positivity that comes from their management team, resulting in increased drive and a desire to do the very best job that they can. As a result, employee job satisfaction increases and productivity rises. Workers who are driven to succeed with be more open to further training opportunities, leading to an increase in the skill level of your staff members and a higher-quality end product.

There is also a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and customer service. Motivated, hardworking staff members produce better quality products and give better service to your customers, which is clearly of the utmost importance in a business with customer-facing elements.

If the customer has an enjoyable and satisfying experience when using your company’s services or buying your products, you will be repaid with their loyalty and repeat business. In addition, you are likely to see increased sales as a result of referrals and word of mouth recommendation.

Contact St Andrews Consulting today to find out more about how to maintain enthusiasm in the boardroom and beyond.

The ‘right to disconnect’ from work emails and text messages

Having a life outside of work is highly important; not having one is detrimental to the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in the organisation. There is a lot a pressure on people and having a demanding job or boss can sometimes affect personal lives.

Too often leaders forget that there is a need to disconnect from work and have personal time, or even that employees have a life outside of work. Sometimes the boundaries between both can become blurred, particularly with the prevalence of modern technology. Smart phones enable an “always-on” culture that is not healthy.

It’s an under the surface issue that is easy to ignore. One would think that people go home at the end of the day and relax, let their hair down and get on with whatever takes their fancy on off-the-clock-time. But what about those emails that would be left unanswered? Those phone calls that employees really feel should be answered? Sometimes work is all someone can think about, and some employees have very little down-time as a result. A strong work ethic is a good thing for an organisation and great for a team but even those teams with a strong achievement culture take some time off.

That’s why the awareness of mental health issues and the availability of wellbeing activities in the workplace for employers and managers alike is sorely needed. An employee needs to be viewed as an asset with a whole array of needs rather than a functional point in an organisation that can be replaced when it’s broken.

When employees are happy and feel valued, then a beautiful transformation takes place; productivity rockets and staff turnover plummets. Businesses with low staff retention start to become highly sought after places to work and their reputation enables them to attract the most capable candidates.

An employee is a whole person. A person that needs stimulating physically, mentally and emotionally. They are people with personal issues, problems of their own, needs, wants and desires. When a business takes on the role of employer, they also take this on board too.

That’s why at St Andrews Consulting we view leadership as a whole package, and not a work place issue. We recognise the personal need for downtime – that people need time to get away from work properly. All staff need to relax and be their own person for that small amount of time that working life allows. Ultimately, refreshed employees make far happier and more engaged workers.

Time management: don’t put unneccessary pressure on your employees

When delegating work to your employees, it is essential to understand the time constraints they face. As a leader, you should understand how long jobs realistically take to complete and acknowledge the needs of your employees including their current workload, changing demands from others and potentially even their circumstances outside work. This may mean you need to spend time with them to understand their world. Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Set and agree a plan

To give your employees something to work from, it may be an idea to write up a plan on the tasks which need to be completed both regularly and any one-off projects. Time is crucial to the successful completion of any task, yet understanding how tasks can be managed within certain time frames needs to be looked into. Tasks shouldn’t be piled onto employees regardless of deadlines which need to be met or you could be facing rising absence rates due to stress and eventually higher turnover.

  1. Extended hours

Don’t expect your staff to work extended hours if there is no real need to do so. Presentee-ism has little benefit and can be very damaging. Remember that employees have families and other commitments outside of their workplace which also require their time and focus. In the modern world of flexible working, it is very easy to demand responses at any time of the day or night. However, if you respect their time outside of work and only disturb them when really necessary, then they will be more willing to put the hours in when you need them, providing you explain your reasons clearly.

  1. Change is constant – and that needs to include expectations and outputs

Organisations are always looking for ways of doing things better or more cheaply. It is a fallacy to think that you can strip layers or resources out of an organisation and get the same or more work out of it.This is an ideal opportunity to focus on what is really important to the whole organisation, stop doing things that add no value and start doing things more effectively that do. Encourage your team to identify pinch points for delivery and suggest changes that will make their jobs easier and more efficient.

 

To find out how St Andrews Consulting could help improve your leadership skills, increase team morale and drive your business forward for growth, contact us today.

How to effectively manage change in your organisation

Change is inevitable within any business – whatever the sector they are in. Some common kinds of change faced by organisations include downsizing, changing locations and restructuring. One thing is true for all changes in business and that is that they affect employees. It doesn’t matter whether the change is positive for an organisation or even a really simple one like changing the colour of a wall; employees will often still feel unsettled. In addition, the only constant is change as the world we live and work in moves on.

Unfortunately, most people don’t really like change. It is important to manage change effectively to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible and that you retain your best staff. The only way to manage change successfully is to be an engaging leader and these are some ways to use your leadership skills to get the most positive result from change in your organisation.

Communicate

Most problems with change management are down to a lack of communication – poor timing, not enough or information that is wrong. Employees may start to hear rumours about what is going to happen and this is what starts to make them feel nervous. They don’t know what is coming and they worry that they will be negatively affected. It is vitally important to communicate regularly with your staff and particularly those who may be affected. If you communicate throughout the process, you will find that employees will feel better about the situation and the transition will be much less stressful for everyone involved. An engaging leader will use open and honest communication and keep employees updated on progress about the change process and why it is being done. They will take positive actions, such as sending out weekly emails with updates, hold regular meetings and will answer any queries from employees quickly. They will also be honest when they can’t answer the questions posed and will commit to coming back with a clear answer in the future.

Involvement

Employees like to feel that they are valued. They turn up every day, work hard and they feel part of a community. There is an expectation that they will be involved in decisions and this is particularly important when it comes to making changes within a business. Take the time to get opinions and ideas from your team, understand how they feel, demonstrate that you have taken account of their input. If you make sure they are involved in the process from start to finish, then you will get much higher levels of buy-in from your employees. A successful leader will involve employees throughout the change process by creating an open forum where they will answer any queries, they will invite employee feedback and most importantly, take the feedback on board and act on it.

Adapt

No matter how big the change may be for your organisation, you should allow your employees time to adapt. For example, if you are downsizing, you should give your employees plenty of warning and information to help them deal with the change. Job losses are the main concern when it comes to downsizing, so the clearer you are about the options available to those affected, the easier it will be for them to adapt to the change. A transformative leader should be empathetic to their employees and will create a timeframe for the change so that they have time to adapt their lives if need be. They will also actively source other opportunities if the change involves job losses or provide additional support if there is something which will affect the lives of their employees.

Effective change management requires strong leadership skills. If you would like to find out more about how you can improve your leadership skills and deal with change management effectively, email Glen at St. Andrews Consulting.

How leaders can deal with conflict in the workplace

Conflicts at work are extremely common. Indeed, it is not possible to make change without conflict happening. However if it is not managed correctly or becomes too personal, it may adversely affect the motivation and team morale of other employees. Then the working environment can become toxic and negative if strategies aren’t put in place to resolve issues between employees. At the extreme, it can lead to talented people leaving or even the organisation being remodelled to break down the entrenched positions. Here are a few top tips for leaders dealing with conflict to enhance team performance:

Find common ground

If conflict is brought about through a disagreement over ideas within meetings, persuade your team members to transfer that negative energy into a brainstorming or ideas session. You hired these individuals because they were passionate about the company, therefore understand that conflicts may arise due to wanting the best for the business. Everyone has their own perception of the problem and the way to solve it. Ask those in conflict calmly whether there are any positives in carrying on the disagreement, and if not, encourage them to move on with the discussion.

Help employees to feel secure

When conflict arises between employees, there can often be a sense of self-doubt amongst the more vulnerable and shy members of staff. As a leader, it is always a good idea to reassure those individuals that they are highly thought of within the company and that the conflict won’t affect their position within the team organisation. Simon Sinek explains why this is important in this video:

Remind them that they can talk to you whenever they need to, and that everyone is working to keep things professional and get the team back on track.

Don’t be afraid to take charge

The main aim of leadership is to get your team to the right outcome at the right time for the benefit of them and the wider group. In all organisations, the way forward often has difficult choices that have both upsides and downsides. This means that every decision has the potential to cause conflict. However, there does come a point when the time for discussion is over and a decision needs to be made – and that decision may have to be made by you. Indeed, you may have to adopt a far more autocratic style to get rapid progress to meet a short term deadline. However, if you are in “tell” mode more than “sell” mode, then you probably aren’t getting the best out of your team.

Timing is everything

If you notice there are conflicts emerging between employees, ensure you nip it in the bud early rather than leaving it too late. Having said that, it is always worth finding hard evidence or proof before discussing issues with each employee. Teams are complex things and, like an iceberg, a good proportion of what goes on happens out of sight. It may be values, behaviours or other characteristics that are causing the issue. The key is to find an acceptable compromise to allow the protagonists to work together on an ongoing basis. If this cannot be found, then the only solution is personnel change, which is a long and hard road….

For more information on becoming an inspirational leader, please take a browse on our website to see how we can develop your leadership skills as well as developing your team of employees.