It is fascinating to me how many skills of management get better with practice. I thought this week it would be useful to trap some of the techniques I have learned, invented, and observed over 25 years in business that work. It’s certainly not definitive but I hope it helps.
1. Managing staff can be relentless but I’ve found creating a fun environment where the review of outstanding stuff can be an enjoyable experience. Consider this great software program from the 37 Signals guys – Backpack. Big colorful fonts, the ability to attach images & files right into the to do list and share it all with your team in the cloud.
2. Defining roles in terms of expectations is key. This is what I expect from you in terms of performance in the following areas: 1,2,3,4,5 etc
3. Link these roles with the department’s objectives and companies objectives. Every single member on the team should be clear of their significance to the big picture.
4. For every report generated as the lead manager receiving the report eg CEO receiving the CFO Report or the VP Marketing receiving a metrics report from a marketing manager – ask what questions is this report meant to answer, what action is supposed to happen because of it, and who is supposed to take the action. Graphs showing trends are essential, snapshots are dangerous.
5. Use lunch and learn sessions throughout the year to teach skills in an informal but productive way.
6. Describe as CEO how you expect every silo/department to work together. Don’t leave it to chance e.g. spell out how sales and marketing and finance can measure and track the effectiveness of sales and marketing campaigns.
7. For all key policies you expect staff to adhere to, publish a no-nonsense ONE page version that sets out clearly the requirements with, if necessary the legal formal document linked to it which covers the minutia. E.g. Social Media Policy document for staff.
8. Consider the concept of Reverse Mentoring to ensure all executives stay connected to the digital skills being developed by the next generation.
9. Allow staff to develop through you and aggressively give public credit for great work and treat critical feedback as a learning moment done in private.
10. Always look to simplify key messages and over communicate them to your key staff to ensure they go viral and are widely adopted.
11. What gets measured gets done. Curate 5 key metrics by department that need relentless monitoring and follow through and don’t be succumbed by the ability to measure 50 metrics because you can.
12. The ability to ask the right questions is a skill that gets better with practice. Questions can change the way we think and operate. 3 quick examples from recent client assignments:
a. How do we know the final bespoke manufactured product matches the received Purchase Order from the customer?
b. What were the main volume and yield reasons behind software sales increasing 20% last quarter?
c. What does the Pie Chart look like for the last 5 years of sales cumulative shown by sector as a percentage breakdown?
Then of course there are jugular skills required within each department that make managing so much easier. Here are some examples of 3 Essential skills by department I have observed or created in successful companies:
1. Superb product knowledge.
2. Exceptional knowledge of the customer and their market and the issues surrounding both.
3. World class sales process.
1. Deep understanding of where leads will come from, markets, companies, persona who typically buys.
2. Exceptional knowledge of metrics and how to measure them.
3. “Continuity Supervisor” of the business world ensuring that the key positioning of the company is translated into all collateral wherever it resides.
1. Ability to forecast the next 12 months cash flow based on all available raw data from inside and outside the business.
2. Ability to tell the accurate story behind the historical financial performance within days of it happening (and flash headlines even quicker).
3. Ability to explain the profitability of any aspect of the business.
1. Skill to generate new ideas, filter them and launch them involving relevant resources of the company.
2. Ability to consistently produce goods and services that meet the requirements of the customer.
3. Skill to produce metrics that show productivity declines or gains.
1. A systematic process for spotting exceptional talent outside the business and nurturing it for potential openings.
2. Ability to spot skills gaps and close them.
3. The skills to spot the need for a role to change, a role to be eliminated or a new role to be created.
Clarity of purpose and alignment of resources are the key in my view to great management.
Thoughts are always welcome.