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Archive: Mar 2018

How to use appraisals to get results from your team

Posted: March 26, 2018 1:54 pm
The value of managing the performance of staff is all too often ignored by businesses and those in a management role. It can seem like a difficult and complicated process where uncomfortable conversations are sometimes required. However, the reality is that appraisals are an incredibly useful tool for businesses to motivate, engage and communicate with staff – as long as they are properly used. Before the appraisal The value of managing the performance of staff is all too often ignored by businesses and those in a management role. It can seem like a difficult and complicated process where uncomfortable conversations are sometimes required. However, the reality is that appraisals are an incredibly useful tool for businesses to motivate, engage and communicate with staff – as long as they are properly used.

Before the appraisal

  • Take care when scheduling. It’s important that both you and the employee have enough time to prepare for the appraisal so that no one is caught out and unhappy about it taking place. It will be a more constructive experience for everyone if there is adequate preparation time.
  • Make sure you’re ready. As a manager, you need to lead the appraisal and be ready to confidently explain assessment processes, decisions and consequences. Look at previous appraisals, check the employee’s job description and be prepared with questions, such as “which completed tasks are you most proud of?” or “what have you found challenging this year?”
  • Look forward, as well as back. Appraisals are about covering past behaviour but also planning for the future. What new skills is this person going to need to develop and what career defining moments do they have coming up? Development is as important as assessment.
  • Think ahead. What kind of issues is this person likely to raise and what are their next career goals likely to be? How will you manage a situation in which they have a high volume of criticisms to bring to the table?

During the appraisal

  • Remember that this is an ongoing relationship. You still have to work with this person after the appraisal so be kind, constructive and businesslike even if you’re delivering bad news.
  • Be specific and factual. Working on the basis of making a statement and then providing the evidence to back that up will give whatever you say credibility and ensure that you get your point across.
  • Remember the impression that you make. Relaxed body language, maintaining eye contact and asking friendly open-ended questions will create an atmosphere of openness and rapport.
  • Focus on solutions as much as problems. If you’re in the position where you’re having to raise issues about conduct or performance with an employee then just imagine how this is going to feel from the other side of the table. It’s difficult to hear criticism for anyone – but if this is accompanied by suggestions for solutions and next steps it can be much easier to bear and use constructively.
  • Make sure there are outcomes. Appraisals should always end with employees being able to see what positive next steps are likely to be. So, aim to create an action plan, points or ideas that will turn the appraisal into positive progress.
If you manage other people and you’re keen to understand how to get the most out of them, our Appraising Performance Effectively course is designed to help you do just that. Learn how to handle appraisals effectively and use them to begin producing better results.

How can you become an effective team leader?

Posted: March 20, 2018 1:47 pm
A team leader role is both a challenge and an achievement. While it doesn’t have the full responsibility of management it still puts you in a position that is distinct from just being another member of the team. Success at team leadership can be a stepping stone to greater things in a career and is also a good opportunity to hone the skills that you’ll need to have to effectively lead.

Always lead from the front

Team leaders often set the tone for the way a team performs and the kind of collective attitudes that are fostered. So, if you want to be an effective leader, you need to establish what you expect from the team by setting an example. That means avoiding the temptation to delegate everything that comes your way and demonstrating the kind of work ethic you expect from the people you work with.

Face up to difficult decisions

A key moment for many progressing into leadership roles is learning that you will garner more respect from your team by facing up to difficult decisions than turning away from them. That’s the case even if the difficult decisions adversely affect the people you’re working with. You may need to have a conversation about lateness or poor performance, or be part of a disciplinary process for an employee. Doing this to the best of your ability is as much a part of being an effective team leader as any other task.

Tackle the least appealing jobs

Moving into a team leadership role doesn’t mean taking all the nice and easy work for yourself. If you want to be effective then you need to be as willing to tackle the unpleasant tasks as those that will bring glory and which are easy to compete.

Remember how much you value fairness

That is, when you were a member of the team being led by someone else, you – like all of us – expected leadership to act in a fair way. This can be a real challenge for a new team leader, as fairness can sometimes feel like a subjective concept. Avoiding having favourites, listen to everyone and take all your team seriously if they come to you with an issue - that is a good place to start.

Educate yourself on law and policy

What parts of company policy are you responsible for implementing? Everything, from mobile phone use to health and safety standards could now come under your remit so make sure you’re aware and educated. The same goes for legal requirements – do you understand the concept of discrimination, for example, and are you well educated in behaviours that might trigger it?

Have a positive mental attitude

Being upbeat and positive can be contagious – and that’s exactly the kind of spirit that you want to pass on to the rest of your team. Our Masterclass in Management Skills course provides a comprehensive introduction to key management skills and gives you tools to become a better and more effective team leader from Day 1.

How can you manage others in a very practical way?

Posted: March 14, 2018 1:02 pm
Learning how to manage others is one of the most challenging stages in any career. However, without acquiring key skills – and gaining an awareness of how you manage and lead others – it’s very difficult to progress. Great managers can make all the difference to the experience that employees have within a business. They can inspire and motivate a team to great things with just a few practical skills and a straightforward approach.

Effective communication

Few things are possible in life without effective communication but this is especially so when it comes to leading other people. The first element to effective communication is to be on top of emails, phone calls and messages – responsive and clear. The second step is in the interactions that you have on a daily basis. Do you listen to what people say, are you open to feedback and do you find it easy to avoid taking a defensive position?

Leading by example

It’s the oldest trick in the book for managers – go first where you expect others to follow. If you’re keeping your team late to work then work late too, if you expect people to take on challenges that scare them (such as public speaking), you go first.

Creating a genuine team

The word ‘team’ is often used for a group of people working together on a project. However, there is much more to creating a real team dynamic than just shared targets and space. Being an effective manager requires the ability to foster a team atmosphere, motivate the team forward and encourage genuine collaboration between those who are working together.

Nurturing relationships

It’s almost impossible to separate who we are as people from who we are in a business environment and so good managers understand how to nurture whole humans, even the difficult and challenging elements. Tolerance and patience are essential when dealing with relationships at work, particularly in situations where there might be a great deal of pressure or heavy workloads. Workplace relationships can be nurtured by managers who are big on respect and trust, encouraging all colleagues to treat each other kindly and with dignity.

Understanding the importance of environment

While the personalities within the team are a key responsibility for a manager, so too is the environment in which that team is operating. Happiness at work will be a big factor in whether a team performs well and working out whether this is there is often something that falls to a manager. From a comfortable physical environment to nurturing a culture of support and hard work, managers have much more influence than simply ensuring that targets are met.

Development and progression

Happy staff have goals, motivations, dreams and objectives – and a manager has a role to play and enabling team members to strive and reach them. Being able to effectively manage is closely related to guiding those in your team to finding out what they need to do next to move forward. We offer practical tools for reviewing and improving existing management skills. Our The Practical MBA - Managing By Your Actions course is designed to provide personal guidance on how to manage more practically and effectively.

10 ways to effectively manage a remote team

Posted: March 6, 2018 12:59 pm
In this new era of flexible and agile working there is simply no need for teams to be in the same location to be highly effective. Remote working has its own unique set of challenges but can also be an incredibly effective approach when you have the right management skills for a remote team.

1. Hone your communications

Different methods of communication work for different tasks and teams, so find out which one achieves what you’re trying to do. For example, you might use email for quick interactions or switch to Google Hangouts if you prefer instant messaging.

2. Standardise systems

When individuals work remotely they can quickly develop their own ways of doing things – and these may not overlap with how others on the team are working. Effectively managing a remote team means ensuring that everyone on the team is working in the same way.

3. Enable flexible hours – up to a point

One of the major benefits of a remote team is being able to offer employees more flexible working hours. However, you also need to make sure that people are online and available at key times when you’re likely to need them.

4. Measure productivity

There are many different ways to analyse whether a remote team is doing well when it comes to productivity. You might want to track the number of hours spent logged on or to set regular goals and targets and review how many of these are reached. Whatever you use it’s important to have some way to measure what is being achieved by a remote team.

5. Implement regular review

A monthly or quarterly review can be incredibly useful when you’re managing a remote team. You’ll be able to provide feedback, adjust arrangements and also get an idea of whether the current approach is working for the team members too.

6. Make sure your team has the right environment

It’s no use employing people to work remotely if they don’t have a WiFi connection at home or they’re going to be busy with other commitments at the same time. Effective remote working requires a quiet environment, with a strong internet connection and somewhere your employees can shut the door if they need to have an important conversation.

7. Try to meet in person

It’s always much easier to motivate a remote team if you have met at least once in person. Try setting up an annual social for your team or make sure you at least have a face-to-face interview with them so they know that there is a person on the other end of your emails.

8. Foster a team atmosphere

It can be difficult for remote workers to feel like part of a team but this is important if you want them to work well together. From scheduling regular Skype catch-ups, to encouraging constructive feedback on others’ work there are lots of ways to remind people that they’re not functioning alone.

9. Involvement in the company culture

Remote workers can feel isolated from the rest of the business which makes it crucial to ensure they are involved in its culture. Take every opportunity to communicate firm values, explain objectives and ensure their own priorities are aligned with the wider business.

10. Use video

When you have a remote team, video is a very powerful tool to communicate, inspire and brief. From video messaging to video reports and presentations, you’ll see much more impact if you switch from text to the moving image. If you’re managing teams spread over two or more locations our Managing Remote Teams course could give you the tools you need to excel. Get in touch with PTP today.