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Getting More From Your Staff In Periods Of Fast Business Growth

Thursday 10 March, 2011
Companies that are growing rapidly - whether by design or demand - deal with additional problems. Managers have new issues and often the problem solving strategies of the past are not sufficient. Learn the three 'R's of communicating effectively and lead your team into the future as you grow.

Dealing with change might mean:  

  • Teams need to perform at a higher level
  • Skills need to be developed rapidly, or
  • Conflict may be festering due to the rapid change

Managers now need new strategies to deal with the complex problems that arise during rapid change - or perhaps we need to revisit some old strategies by re-thinking our management approach to the people we manage.

Purposeful and transparent communication must be the core strategy to keep pace with increasing demands on our teams for higher performance. Many managers simply wait for problems to blow over, or hope the storm of emotional meltdowns and conflict will resolve itself. When the human capital of a team starts to decline so too does individual performance.

This often occurs when change is rapid and the way forward is uncertain; in other words this happens just when companies need the opposite. 

The business ethos of politically correct responses to complex problems, polite performance reviews and avoiding difficult conversations is a luxury we can no longer afford

The three ‘R's 

The truth is, we need to offer transparency to our staff by openly communicating how the business operates; relentless, regular and reliable communication.

This means purposeful meetings where more than output is discussed, where employees know what is expected and why, where feedback is encouraged and challenges are discussed, warts and all.

Getting ownership of the workplace issues from staff is a vital component to increasing performance. Commitment and self-motivation only comes when employees understand why resources need to be stretched further, why they need to work differently than before and why regularly communicating as a team will lift their output significantly.

Past strategies 

The increasing demands on our businesses won't diminish and nor should the cooperation and commitment of our teams, yet asking people for more while offering less resources needs a special set of skills.

Some companies use company perks to sweeten the deal whilst others offer staff financial commissions for performance targets that are impossible to achieve. We have even seen companies continue to use veiled threats of job losses if they fail to meet their performance targets.

These strategies will reap some temporary results until something goes wrong. The problem with these strategies is that over the long term, perks will need to be bigger and better, commissions for performance will not be taken seriously and threats of job loss will see the best talent walk out the door to your competition.

The cost and effort of keeping up with these strategies is incalculable.

Gaining buy-in

To gain buy-in from staff, managers should firstly be sure that;  

  • Expectations and needs are crystal clear
  • Pep talks need to be backed up with action (from management)
  • Staff need to be developed, and
  • The WIFM (what's in it for me) needs to be both desirable and achievable

It would be hard to imagine any other position in any industry that requires a wider skill set than managing other people. Along with vision, systematic planning and giving direction, managers need to understand the tasks of their team in addition to offering sound advice about how to negotiate workplace relationships to keep their teams harmonious. Not all managers have all of these skills.

My advice (after many years of developing managers) is to start with the truth.

The truth is...

  • That, as a manager, you will need to embark on regular and purposeful communication with your teams
  • The operation of the business, including the challenges need to be discussed with your teams and measured for them to see the results of their efforts (visual management tools)
  • Managers need to offer support and guidance - but not micro-manage people who work well
  • Managers should expect results once they have given direction
  • You have to lead by example (even if you haven't in the past) and build these strategies into your calendar if you wish to take your team to the next level
  • Managers need to become the coach not the boss! 

The truth is - honesty builds accountability.

Author Credits

Diana Ginty, Director, Leader Capital. To develop your managers contact www.leadercapital.com.au or Phone: (02) 85809 522; Email: info@leadercapital.com.au.
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