The way I manage companies has always deviated philosophically from standard textbook practices.
Yet, as CEO of my now-seventh company, I can cite many, many practical tips I wish first-time CEO Jack Sweeney – circa 1993 – had known in order to make better management decisions.
Looking back at my 22 years of setting management direction, building teams and analysing markets, I’ve come to a rather obvious conclusion: The world has changed a heck of a lot since my first job as CEO, and so has my management style.
Early on, I made decisions by the seat of my pants and was micromanaging my staff. Today, I make choices using quantitative support, and let my team – the true experts – do their jobs. Because the reality is, my own success has always been a result of my team’s success.
The bottom line is this: As the world changes, so should your management style. That goes for whether you’re managing a team of ten, or ten thousand.
To help you effectively manage your own team and guide your company to greatness, I recently tapped into my own Top 7 Management Lessons. If anything, read them on behalf of first-time CEO Jack Sweeney – he highly recommends you take a look:
1. Trust your team and get out of the way
When I was a first-time CEO, I had difficulties trusting anybody. I worked hard on tasks I’d “delegated” to others, and wouldn’t let them fully execute without my input. Now, I stay out of my team’s way and let them do their jobs, advising them before and after they’ve worked at accomplishing a task, versus throughout the entire process.
You can get much more from team members by assigning them tasks and critiquing them afterward. This time frame gives them a chance to grow and fosters better communication. In the early days, I barely had an opportunity to critique since I was so involved in the process myself.
2. Use quantitative support to make decisions
As I mentioned, I based a lot of my decisions as a first-time CEO on subjective information. It wasn’t all on the fly, but we certainly didn’t have the quantitative support or technology we use today. These days, I’m using measurable data as much as possible, drawn from dozens of systems I use to guide my latest company, SevOne.
There are a lot of productivity tools to help management leaders accomplish their goals, whatever their line of business, and it’s important to identify and arm every business unit – not just sales and finance – with what they need to operate at their best.
Related: 7 Dark Truths About Entrepreneurship
3. Learn how to manage a mobile workforce
There’s no doubt the workplace has changed. I rarely need a private office or even a computer (I have one in my back pocket). Nor are the goings-on of the company central to where I’m sitting. These changes have caused a lot of business leaders to struggle with managing an increasingly mobile and global workforce.
So, you must adapt yourself and your company to meet the needs of today’s employees. Now that I look back, I see today’s ability to work anywhere as amazing. My dad, God bless him, wasn’t able to make it to any of my basketball games because he was too busy making a living.
I’m proud to say I’ve never missed one of my son’s basketball games because I’ve got tools that allow me to be wherever I want to be and still get my job done. Either embrace the trend, or be left behind, because tomorrow’s best talent doesn’t want to work in yesterday’s office.
4. New to the company? Don’t be overly helpful
It takes a long time to understand what people have done to make their companies successful. Accordingly, as a CEO, I’ve disciplined myself to not fully insert myself into too many areas of the company for the first two to six months, unless there’s a crisis.
If you’re the new leader at a company, treat it as if you were going onto a busy highway: Be careful merging into traffic and get up to speed before switching lanes.
Take time to figure out what’s going on and then start changing directions without slowing down. When it comes to management, I truly believe that if you move too fast, you often make mistakes. Again, the only caveat is: as long as there isn’t a crisis.
5. When things get complicated, go back to basics
People have a tendency to overcomplicate management when technology is involved, but sometimes your style and mindset just need to go back to basics. Having a company “elevator pitch” and clearly communicating it to your team, for example, is important because it conveys exactly what you do in a digestible way that your team can use next time it answers that question at a networking event.
Additionally, using an analogy from the past to explain your business is helpful. Things change but are often similar to what’s happened in the past. If you can find an easy way to tell customers and investors how your product or service emulates something they already know, you’ll find it easier to communicate.
Google, for example, uses electricity to explain how the internet is going to be everywhere. Going back to the basics is a lesson I would have shared with my first-time CEO-self.
6. Your feelings are going to get hurt
Recognizing that your feelings will occasionally be hurt comes with the territory when you’re a CEO or other business leader. But if you’re not willing to listen because you’re afraid to hear bad news or constructive feedback, you’re going to miss the opportunity to learn about the real issues and what you could be focusing on.
I always tell people: I love bad news. In fact, I always want the bad news first. The reason is, I want to be informed, feel more in control and be in a better position to resolve issues and manage them appropriately. Plus, if you’re a leader who’s not open to bad news, and your team knows it, it’s impossible to build trust.
7. Hire someone you’d be happy to see in the hallway
Maintaining a culture and motivating people, while building a company at the same time, can be challenging. I personally admire people like Joe Tucci at EMC and John Chambers at Cisco, for both having accomplished that.
Since my first job, I’ve learned that hiring people who are perfect in the interview and on paper is good. But hiring people you look forward to seeing in the hallway – people who are capable but also nice – is equally important.
Additionally, always admit when you’ve made a hiring mistake, because you’re not going to be perfect. When you make a bad hire, it’s probably not the best fit for the person you hired, either, so own up to it.
Finally, I recommend staying away from suck-ups. I grew up in a family of 12 and I can smell a suck-up a mile away. Now, that’s something my first-time CEO-self should have known.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How Your Company Can Become A Champion Of Change
Take control of the change management see-saw to achieve your business objectives
Constant change is a reality for business owners, but today that change is happening faster than ever before, both within businesses and across industries. Transformation has therefore become a strategic non-negotiable as companies must adapt to remain relevant in this era of unprecedented disruption.
Unfortunately people – your staff – are hardwired to resist change. It’s predominantly a subconscious psychological response to a fear of the unknown and the uncertainty this creates.
This is a major reason why few organisational transformation initiatives succeed (just 30-38% according to a commonly-cited McKinsey study) in achieving all of the project’s objectives.
However, there is an effective process that business owners can follow to successfully implement, manage and champion change to more effectively adapt to a modern marketplace that’s in constant flux.
Step 1: Define the objective
A business owner must first clearly define the new business objective that necessitates the change. We call this the Victory Condition.
It’s a company’s ultimate measure of success, and establishing this objective is vital to ensure that everyone in the business knows where the company is headed, particularly as this information will define their Path to Victory.
Step 2: Create buy-in
However, forcing to staff to follow this path without their input and consultation – important processes that make their buy-in more likely – can amplify their resistance to change.
Without buy-in there’s no shared common interest in the process or the objective. That’s when resistance usually manifests as inertia, petty meddling and sometimes, outright destructive behaviour.
Step 3: Tip the see-saw in your favour
The catalyst for disruption during periods of organisational change is usually negativity. Even the slightest negativity can tip the balance of the change management see-saw against business owners and company leadership when trying to implement and manage a transformation strategy.
That’s because most staff tend to sit in the middle, waiting to see which way the see-saw will tilt.
The fact that most people are tuned to gravitate towards negativity means the balance of forces can easily swing in that direction when there’s a groundswell of negativity within an organisation.
To tip the see-saw in your favour it’s crucial to identify and root out the ‘bad eggs’, as they’re the ones who draw staff to the negative side. It’s also vital to ensure that the company identifies and works to retain its good people. With this combined approach, leadership will greatly enhance the probability of success.
Step 4: Identify and create champions
The final step is to create champions for growth and impact within your company. This is the other reason why you need to retain your best staff. These are the people who will help to shift others within the organisation to the right side of the change management see-saw.
To do so requires empowering these champions to become catalysts for positivity, by letting them lead through demonstrable action according to the business’s Victory Condition.
However, to ensure that this is the kind of action that benefits the business, your champions need to clearly understand the objective, and the potential paths the business can take to get there.
Empowered with this information, it’s then up to them to communicate and share the Victory Condition with the rest of the staff, and ensure they understand it. This creates organisational cohesion and ensures that everyone is working towards the realisation of the Victory Condition.
Business Leadership – Learn How To Embrace Change
Embrace change! It is the new intelligence!
“Embracing change is the new intelligence”
Initially your IQ was considered in most circles to be a key determining factor of your success as a business leader. Deeper research into the realm of emotional intelligence has revealed its potential as a catalyst to build meaningful and results driven relationships that can change the world.
Yet another highly interesting topic of conversation has been echoing in lecture halls, boardrooms, and the minds of entrepreneurs. Scary to some, very exciting to others, changes within an industry or business environment are always just around the corner. To get to intelligent, pragmatic and very useful answers it must begin with intelligent and practically orientated questions:
“Just how important has your ability to adapt to useful change, forced changes in the market place or industry, as a core leadership skill become??
The author shares the opinion of numerous modern thought leaders that identifying useful change, embracing it, and incorporating it as a part of the company culture has become a core skill. A skill that every entrepreneur and leader must possess or learn that is if they have a strong desire to build a sustainable ,thriving company and leave a lasting legacy. Your ability to embrace useful change is at the very least more important than your IQ and equal to if not more important than your level of emotional intelligence.
A successful change journey starts with a healthy view of useful change and the acceptance of as Robin Sharma says:
“Change is always hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end…”
Understanding the real purpose of a change intervention and how it aligns with and serves the vision and goals of your company is the launching pad for a successful change intervention. I must point out at this stage that a wise performance coach once shared that:
‘The success of any transformation is highly dependent upon the internal state of the person or people driving the change journey’.
To clarify and simplify the above it can be applied to our daily lives. Our attempts to lose weight are often stymied by our need for the immediate gratification of tasty food and a full stomach and we fall in love with the warm feeling/s associated with that.
Losing weight poses another challenge to us. It pushes us outside that space of comfort that we love so much. The journey asks more from us. The willingness to sacrifice the known for the unknown is also a requirement that proves to be a bridge too far to cross for most.
If however you fully understood literally all the benefits of a weight loss journey and especially how it aligns with your life’s’ purpose and goals your willpower will be enhanced as well as your general attitude.
Lets’ say as an example that you are an entrepreneur whose purpose is to positively transform the lives of your clients through the use of your product. By losing weight in a healthy way you will not only look better, feel better, you will also have the energy to work harder at your goals of for example selling more products.
You will have more energy and willpower to coach and empower your team. Therefore weight loss and fitness considered within a positive paradigm that is not only aligned with your personal health goals but also with your purpose as an entrepreneur will likely give you the necessary perseverance to succeed that is if you sincerely believe in your purpose and considered all benefits of the change intervention.
I recently facilitated a change intervention at a factory as a consultant. Initially most involved thought they were just going to receive orders to produce and sell more of a certain product. Instead their own purpose was revealed to them and how producing and selling more of the product could enhance their own skill set, performance, and self-development.
More importantly they realised that this change intervention could potentially enhance the income and experience of their customers vastly. According to the feedback received they felt more motivated and empowered than ever, and are achieving way more sales of the product range that they are focussing on than ever before.
When a change intervention is truly embraced by your team because they truly feel and understand the purpose of it and are excited about how it will positively affect their collective future and their internal state mostly positive powerful and lasting results can be achieved.
Another ‘insurance policy’ that goes a long way in ensuring sustainable success in business within a challenging and changing environment is to establish a learning culture within your business. Strongly encourage and create circumstances ideal to practical learning which also embraces the opportunity to learn from failures and apply solution driven thinking.
When your team members pursue learning and positive experimentation they will be more open minded and confident when useful change interventions can be exploited for further self-development and company growth. Embrace change! It is the new intelligence!
The Future Of Work: Creating Excellent Culture To Be An Employer Of Choice
Millennials already make up a significant percentage of the “new workforce”. They seem to flourish in work environments where the experience includes diversity, transparency, and collaborative work cultures, with flexible working conditions and work that contributes to positive social influence.
Why it is important to be “an employer of choice”
An employer of choice is not only in business for profit, but also to ensure that their people develop the potential, as humans. This is not only done for the good of the business, but to develop individuals who are responsible stewards working towards a common purpose of healing or refreshing fellow humans and the earth (fauna and flora).
If you are in business and you have people working with or for you, you want to attract a mix of employees. Some will have the best industry skills for example, and others will have exceptional leadership capacity. More importantly, you would want, regardless of skills, people with great positive attitudes.
Attracting employees with top-notch skills, outstanding character and great attitudes would require that you design a business with excellent character and culture.
Vision Led and Values Drive Employer Value Propositions (EVP)
The line “vision led, values driven” is well known. To be a successful business you have to have a meaningful and resilient vision to inspire your team, driven by robust and powerful values.
It is crucial to communicate well with employees “why” and “what” they are part of achieving (i.e. vision). Vision needs to be externally focused; describing the desired impact to be made on the world, or how the business aspires to create a better society.
Having a vision to buy into and the values that support it, forms part of the Employer Value Proposition (EVP) – this is what employees are offered in return for their hours of work.
Research shows five elements that employers need to focus on when defining their EVP: Rewards, opportunity, organisation, people, and the work itself.
Creating an Employer of Choice culture
In short, listen, then listen a bit more, and then act accordingly.
Start by serving your clients and your people, clearly understanding their needs, wants and desires. Then build a vision to fulfill the needs and always do business responsibly.
There are various ways to determine the needs of your clients and your employees. We focus on the needs of employees and have designed a culture assessment to understand the internal culture. It also measures some external elements, like customer service from an internal perspective.
We focus on elements relating to how we serve, bring harmony and patience, experience joy, being good and kind, building trust and having self-control. Once you understand how your culture looks, then you can define how you want it to look or what you believe it should be in terms of values.
Create an excellent culture that adds substance to your EVP, to be an Employer of Choice.