Monday, October 27, 2008

Is your team built for Speed

I was just reflecting on how business has changed over the last 30 years. I would have to say the major change in all things is the speed we do things. Think of the last time you contacted a supplier and asked them a question about their product. Some time ago we would have to wait for some info to be sent by post, then a few years later we got the info by Fax, now its info by email or the web. We expect this, and so do our customers.

Now consider your team and all the ways it interacts with your customers. Do you offer the speed that everyone craves? Can you offer the product description the moment the customer asks? Can you accept their purchase order and validate it? Once the purchase order is accepted, are the goods and services scheduled and programmed for delivery? I sure hope the answer of these types of questions is a resounding YES.

If you are like the rest of us there's a fair chance that some areas of your product cycle could do with an increase in speed. Lets look at how our team interacts with our customers, suppliers and our own team. Which areas could do with some streamlining? Lets list them all and then prioritise.

My rule of thumb in this area, is all tasks that touch people need to be given a high priority especially your customers and your own team members, don't let these very important people ever be in doubt. Set up your systems so you can act with speed.

If you can concentrate and improve the speed with which you act, people will see your leadership flow through and want to continue to do business with you.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spend some quality time to build your team's Morale

In the last post we looked at maintaining your team's profile. Building on from that, now is the time to spend some serious time maintaining morale. Just stop and consider for a few minutes all the bad press of late. It's enough to get you down, so think on the effect on your team members.

The time's right for you to take some pro-active action and boost up your teams morale. Have your ear to the ground and get a feel for how the group mood is.

You can't afford for the morale of you team to get too bad, so i suggest when you hear the first grumblings you take some affirmative action. Now is the time to consider some ideas before it gets to desperate stakes.

Why not consider a family Bar-B-Cue on Friday after work, you don't loose any work time and all you have to come up with a venue and some food. But consider the outcome the families and your workers will feel how much you value their efforts. Maybe its an afternoon at the bowling alley.

The venue and activity is not important, what is important is that every member of your team knows they are a valued member and that they belong.

The morale of your team is a very important factor in your team's performance. It can take a deep blow and destroy you if you allow it to wallow. As a good leader it is important to keep an eye on the team and act swiftly to keep morale high it will certainly pay-off in the future.

Have you been through this either as a leader or a team member? How did it go?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maintaining your team's profile

I guess we've all been keeping an eye on the financial situation around the world. I hope you've stopped and taken some time to consider what is the implication to you and your team.
As the leader you need to take some steps to protect your team the best you can.

A few weeks ago we talked about maintaining a scorecard, I hope you have been on top of this. With the knowledge from your scorecard you know what your team is doing well at. Be sure that your boss knows about these high points.

As the leader your job is to keep the profile of your team in the mind of the work hierarchy, the better your team is understood the better they will be justified should the dreaded layoff discussion begins.

The economic phases of business dictate that the company is looking to protect itself for the long haul and at some stage, particularly if this financial crisis is prolonged cuts will happen.

Like it or not there are lots of people feeling stress about their job situation. As the leaders of these teams we need to do our best for each member. Be positive and talk-up your team's strengths, work hard to minimize any errors all this will help to maintain your team's morale.

Do your best to keep your team productive and be sure to feedback your team's performance so the team get a fair hearing if things get worse.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Time Management within your Leadership

Your leadership requires you to have a fine understanding and skills in the area of time management. At the different stages of your business you will be the pre-sales, sales, post-sales, production and financial person doing the work in all these areas of your business.

Many books will espouse the value of multi-tasking, personally I find it doesn't work except for completing the most mundane chores. When it comes to serious thinking and decision making it is so much better to fully immerse your self into the problem and issue and work it all the way through to its conclusion.

The use of some tools may help you, some people love "To Do lists" while others hate them. Some of my friends have great success with Mind-Maps, while others like the fish bone diagrams based on the "why" or "so what" questions to explore all avenues.

So if you can come to a fully considered solution minding all angles, then you can consider that problems solved and move onto the next. Should you try to do ten or twenty things at the same time, odds on none of them will be well done at all.

I've found the best way to do this is set up a schedule, so that you set time aside to do the admin things, time for briefing and supporting the team, and time for strategic thoughts and actions.

Be mindful of interruptions and consider:

  • Does you team need some directions right now?
  • Can I afford the time?
  • Can I ask the person to come back at a better time?

Maybe you should set some times up when your free, and advise your team that is the best time to meet with you for routine matters.

If you're still the one-man show then you need to allocate time for each of the various functions such as pre-production, production and marketing. Make your plans and be sure to follow-through.

With the efficient use of your time you will be able to spend more time leading your team and improving your leadership skills to better empower you and your team.

What do find to be the most beneficial idea with your time management?

What's your favorite time management tool?