As an ActionCOACH Business Coach, I have found that many of the businesses I engage with bemoan the fact that they have to do most of the operational work because their team is not up to the standard they need. Many times they have not clarified and set the standards in the first place. Secondly, the owner has no process or system in place to manage their employees.
Peter Drucker, considered the father of modern management theory, stated that:
- “Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things.”
- “Every Manager must first be a Leader.”
- “…A manager develops people, including himself or herself.”
In essence, Management is a system that builds:
- Competency – through training and coaching.
- Productivity – by measuring the achievement of goals and plans.
So, we can define Management as: All the activities and tasks that are undertaken for archiving goals by continuous activities like; planning, organizing, leading and controlling.
For the most part, all of these descriptors make sense at face value, but how does one go about putting best practice into ACTION?
I still vividly remember my own transformation from being a sales representative to a sales manager. I was very focused and motivated to put goals and plans in place. Through determination and hard work to become competent and productive at managing my territory, I was promoted to my first sales management position. I took over a relatively new team of sales representatives in the Northern region of KwaZulu-Natal.
Eager to be successful and to continue to climb the proverbial corporate ladder, I got stuck into growing the sales and profitability of my region. As many new managers fall victim to, I found myself being a ‘Super Salesman’. As most of my team were inexperienced, I found myself doing most of the strategy and operational work and for a short period the results were positive. I felt that I was leading and managing the team well, but it was not long before the momentum began to wane.
It finally dawned on me that the only way I was going to grow and succeed as a manager was if I enabled my team to sustainably grow and succeed. Thus, I embarked on a journey to become a competent manager by refining my own skills in order to nurture and develop the competencies and productivity of the team.
I committed to spending quality time in the field with each team member to learn what their strengths and capability development needs were. Then as a team, we created and set common goals and objectives that were used to develop specific team and individual plans. With this alignment, the team took ownership of their role as managers of their own territory and successful in-field implementation soon followed.
Over time as I took on larger roles with bigger teams, the need to manage each team member’s expectations and performance increased dramatically. Without some sort of Performance Management System in place, sustainable team and individual growth were not going to be achieved. At the time it was common practice to only have a performance review at the end of the financial year to determine the team members’ salary increase.
I found this to be a one-sided discussion that did not do much to inspire the person being reviewed to take ownership of developing their capability and productivity. With each of the subsequent teams that I managed throughout my career, we agreed to have monthly coaching conversations to find out how work was going and to have formal performance reviews to measure goal achievement on a quarterly basis. This process proved to be hugely successful as 90% of my team members achieved their goals on a consistent basis. What I am most proud of is that many of them moved onto bigger roles themselves.
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