Tag Archives: Management

Feeling unimportant? Manufacture a crisis!

The next time you feel unimportant, try manufacturing a crisis and then set out to avert it.  If you can find a few like-minded individuals perhaps you can escalate it, organise meetings to discuss it, or even mobilise a SWOT Team.

Creating a crisis really isn’t that difficult; all it requires is an everyday event, a little imagination and a propensity to panic.  If done well, it can create turmoil, diverting attention from productive pursuits to attend to the distraction of the day.

Of course, averting these manufactured crises rarely contributes much to the greater good and won’t even provide useful practice for dealing with real crises which tend to be a little more stealthy, more urgent, pervasive, difficult to precisely describe and generally untimely.

Some organisations are adept at nipping manufactured crises in the bud.  They are able to effectively assess the risk and quickly re-focus their resources on their collective goals.  Others however seem to accept, and become consumed with manufactured crises.  Everyone is busy and important, but little productive work is done.

The next time you’re faced with one, ask yourself whether it’s a real crisis.  If not, what’s the fastest way you can eliminate it and get back to doing something really important?

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Minimum expectations

At a minimum you should expect to carry your own weight.  It’s unreasonable to expect others to do your work for you.  It’s a recipe for resentment and frustration,

Once the team has proven it has capacity to get the job done then you can start to think about how to do it most efficiently; work can be re-distributed to improve quality, re-assigned to deliver sustainable results.

It all starts with willingness; the willingness of each team member to play their part.

Occasionally someone might help you out, lend you a hand or lighten your load.  When they do, it should be a bonus.  As soon as you start to expect it you’re on a slippery slope.

To full potential

When is the most important time for you to operate to your full potential?  Are there specific times of day, certain audiences or particular customers that demand more?

Every interaction is important, however to consider all moments as equally as important is naïve.  Each customer matters, but the volume of customers is cyclical, regular.  Not to flex capacity in recognition of fluctuating demand is commercial suicide.

Every day organisations demonstrate that they either don’t understand this, or don’t care.  For a service business this is inexcusable.  Acts speak louder than words and the message is clear.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s convenient.  Your customers don’t care whether it’s convenient for you or not, their perspective is entirely selfish, you have one opportunity to impress, to satisfy, or not.

These critical moments define the customer experience and will make or break your reputation.  You’d better anticipate them, and up your game to meet the demands.  There are plenty of moments when the pressure will be off, but now’s the time to operate at full potential.

In charge but opting out

Have you ever experienced relief at having a full day of meetings?  It’s an acceptable opt out.  Your day is organised for you.  You go where you’re told.  Without any particular need to think for yourself.

Options are presented to you.  Decisions are canned, evidence laid out.  There’s no need to extend yourself, no need to lead, just to participate, to play the role.

It’s can be an easy way to spend a day, but are you in control?  Are you spending time on the right things?  Are you influencing the agenda?  Creating opportunities to take on the important decisions as well as the urgent ones?

If you’re really in charge, demonstrate it.  Take control of your day, of your agenda.  Lead.  Don’t accept the easy opt out, however acceptable it may be!

Dangerous assumptions

As a Manager, recently appointed to lead a new team, in an organisation with which you’re not familiar, you may find yourself in a race to understand, to orientate and familiarise yourself.

Often you will be expected to make an immediate impact, you’ll have a limited time to assess the situation, to establish control, to lead.  Experience will suggest that you take your time, avoid jumping to conclusions, build a complete picture founded on hard evidence.  However, the clock is ticking, deadlines are approaching and patience may be in short supply.

During the early stages, as we assess the situation, our own  assumptions will be one of the most dangerous things we’ll encounter.  Our natural tendency is to assume that all members of the team share common goals, that we are all equally driven and live life according to the same rules, values and beliefs.

During the early stages, it is critical that we continually challenge ourselves, question the conclusions we’re reaching, double-check the evidence and search for the nuances, the undertones, the hidden messages that are essential parts of the jigsaw.

Whether the differences are conscious or sub-conscious, they will inevitably be there.  They will vary subtly from individual to individual.  It will take time to establish the full, rich picture, but the time will be well spent.

We must avoid seeing only what we want to see.  Avoid contaminating the scene with our own perspectives and prejudices.  Natural assumptions can be dangerous, keep them in check!

When things are broken

If it takes a call to someone in authority to identify the right person to address a critical issue, then the process is broken.

If it takes a call to someone in authority to divert resource from a less critical activity to address the issue, then the work management system is broken.

If it takes a call to someone in authority to encourage the person to do their job and address the issue, then the organisation is broken.

etc.  etc.

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It’s nice to be in a position of power.  To have the authority to make things happen.  However, if you are contacted regularly to help address day to day issues then there is something wrong.  Things are broken.

Focus your authority on addressing the underlying issues rather than helping them persist in an inefficient, wasteful and frustrating process.

There are other ways to make your authority count!

Make it right!

Why is it we tend to come down hardest on the people that do the most to help us, the people that will rather than the people that should?

Just because they always do what you ask of them, you expect more.  The workload becomes increasingly imbalanced.  Those who do, do more.  Those who don’t, avoid the work and the weight of expectations.

It’s hard to break the habit.  It requires more of us too; to distribute the work evenly, to battle against the inertia.  Things will take longer, need to be checked more thoroughly, require more re-work,

The alternative of course is to recognise the work that is done.  Reward people disproportionately.  Make it worth their while.  If some people are special, make them feel that way.  Make the others envy them, strive to emulate them, then give them a chance to grow.  Make it right!