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Archive for February, 2013

You might not be familiar with Capt. Edward A. Murphy but I would bet you know his moniker: Murphy’s Laws.    Murphy’s Law (“If anything can go wrong, it will.”) was born at Edwards Airforce base in 1949.  Capt. Murphy, an engineer, was actually credited with an old saying that had been around for years.  It was a term he used in describing one of his men who had wired a transducer wrong.   A project manager had been keeping a list of things Capt. Murphy said.  Today we know that list as Murphy’s Laws.

I think people, for the most part, work hard to do a good job in part because getting noticed for good work gets us promoted often to a management position.     It’s in that moment we are excited, happy and full of desire to do a good job once again.  After all, we now have a bigger job, more pay, more responsibility. Wait. What? More Responsibility? What does that mean?  Have you ever found yourself promoted to management and after the excitement wanes you wonder ‘now what’?  You surely don’t want you manager to be like Capt. Murphy, overlooking your work, and lament “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Here are 10 things you can do today to ensure your name isn’t linked with Murphy’s Laws:

1.  Accept that you still have much to learn.  It’s ok not to feel fully confident in your new leadership role.  You’ll have time to continue learning if you do just that.  Be prepared to learn from others – including your own team.

2. Communicate clearly.  Of all the issues that keep my company in business it’s ‘lack of communication’ that I hear the most.   Harboring information is a surefire way to trouble.  Open lines of communication with your team; share goals, priorities, and deadlines; provide clear direction; welcome questions and ask for feedback from others.  Effective communication will be essential in establishing your credibility as a leader and gaining the support of your team.

3.  Set a good example.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking now that you are management it’s your teams job to rise above while you sit with your feet on your desk.  Demand the same level of professionalism and dedication from yourself that you do from your team.  Be upbeat, friendly and willing to do as you say.

4.  Encourage feedback.  When I’ve share this tip I often hear “What if I am not prepared to do whatever they suggest?”.  The tip is Encourage Feedback  not Do Everything Suggested.  Employees don’t always share what’s on their mind.  Prompt them for feedback, canvass for opinions, listen to concerns and ask for ideas.  Maintaining an open door policy requires more than physically leaving your office door open a crack.  You must solicit input, help your employee feel heard, sort through what you hear and use the feedback that can improve things for your company and it’s customers.

5. Offer recognition.  Praise doesn’t have to be formal.  A well-placed Thank You goes a long way in encouraging future contributions and effort.  Make recognition part of your day-to-day communication with your team.  Recognizing them in front of their peer and others builds up your teams confidence.

6. Be decisive.  A quality leader knows how to sift and sort through information to arrive at a decision point.  Sometimes this is done quickly; other times a quality leader might delay a decision. At whatever point you have enough information to make a solid decision, do so and stick with it.  This doesn’t mean don’t alter your path if a decision truly needs revising but for the most part made quality decisions then stick with the decisions you make.  Don’t be wishy-washy.  You only have to  look at public opinion on government U-turns to see how easily confidence in a leader can be weakened or lost altogether.

7.  Help your team see the “big picture”.   Do you know where you and your job fits into your company’s larger goals?  Do you know where your team’s jobs fit?  If not, find out then be sure to communicate it.  This helps demonstrate that every task they complete can have an impact on the company’s success, reputation and bottom line.  Everyone needs to know they belong.  Help your team see and feel why they and their jobs are important.

8.  Create an environment of constant learning and development – and include yourself in this process.  Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s once said “If you’re green, you’re growing.  If you’re ripe, you rot.”  Whether or not you are a fan of McDonald’s or not, the point should be well heeded.  Encourage your team to explore new methods for reaching their goals and company goals.  Allow them to make and learn from mistakes; be sure to reward new and innovative ideas.

9.  Provide professional guidance.   A good manager and leader will also be a good mentor.  Make yourself available to your team and show interest in their careers.  Don’t overlook the power of positive reinforcement.  Continue to develop your skills, especially those focused on results. A focus on execution and achieving actual business results will put you far ahead of those quoting strategy and theory any day.  Require, for any training you consider for yourself or your team, that the trainer show proof their program works.  Don’t settle for creative marketing.  Insist your training dollars are spent on that which can prove the connection to helping you achieve measurable business results.

10.  Be patient with yourself.  As it goes ‘Rome wasn’t built-in a day’.  Recognize strong managerial and leadership skills take time – especially as you adjust to your new position.  Don’t expect to effectively learn significant leadership skills in a week-long seminar. Seek guidance to learn as you go, giving yourself time to try out new skills, and adapt what you learn to your own style of leadership.  Seek guidance formally through coaching and informally through peers.  In doing so you will enhance your leadership abilities and make strides toward becoming a great manager and respected leader.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments Ellison Partners helps businesses achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2012.

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