How important is communication in the workplace?
Very important. Communication in general is a real concern in the workplace, mainly because many employees perceive that their managers don’t listen to them. We’ve found that when problems arise, only 10% of them are due to an actual issue.
The other 90% are a result of the way things are addressed, and what people hear and feel rather than what’s actually happening.
Managers who learn to communicate well become highly effective leaders with high performing teams because their people know what’s expected of them and feel their needs are addressed.
As a result of these improved relations, they focus more on the work and getting things done, and less on perceived issues.
How does poor communication play out in the work environment?
A daily example is when accusations are made before checking facts, resulting in very reactive behaviour.
Another is the generation gap and how this shows up, particularly in the way Gen X and Y Millennials communicate via email and converse in short ‘text’ language.
This is particularly problematic when we see younger managers interacting with their older colleagues. Other factors impacting good quality communication include stress from fear of job security, tightening legislation and economic and social complexities.
These are just some of the factors that contribute to the disconnect in communication. It’s no wonder workplaces have the potential to become toxic unless proactively managed.
How do managers affect revenue growth?
Managers should be setting goals and ensuring there’s alignment between the company’s strategy and the tasks that teams are engaged in.
Managers who are drawn into task-type work instead of managing people are not effectively managing revenue growth.We refer to this as transformational versus transactional work.
Transactional tasks are all about the details of doing things right. Transformational tasks are about leadership and doing the right things. Like most things in business, this should follow the 80/20 principle: 80% of what a manager does should be transformational, and 20% transactional. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true.
A focus on transformational activities requires a manager who has excellent delegation skills. It also requires staff to do the transactional work, and clarity in terms of what’s expected of them. Murkiness filters from the top down.
Is the manager clear on what their leadership requires? If they aren’t, they can’t prioritise for their own teams.
Is there such a thing as working too hard?
Definitely. No one can be on 24/7, and the trouble today is that with Internet access and smart devices, we’re all reachable anywhere, receiving a constant stream of information we feel compelled to reply to.
Leaders tend to want more and more, but good managers should encourage their teams to take time off to recharge, and to encourage daily down time by making a habit of going offline.
There’s also a multitude of studies proving that being ‘always-on’ negatively impacts your ability to be effective and that downtime leads to higher productivity.
How can teams use their time more effectively?
As a manager, start by understanding that many people have a ‘monkey on their back’ or an issue that is causing them stress.
You’re the manager, so naturally they’ll come to you. It’s not your role to simply solve the problem for them, particularly if you can see the solution.
Instead, take care to train and empower your team so that they don’t need you to make every decision for them. As a manager, you tie a noose around your neck by creating co-dependency.
Managers who have a fear of letting go or difficulty trusting others will also buy into the idea of being ‘on’ 24/7. It’s a poor management style – it doesn’t work, and it generally leads to a high staff turnover.
Dealing with people and creating trust is all about personal boundaries. Start by discussing issues openly. For example, if you think it’s okay to contact your team at 11pm, they’ll think it’s okay with each other too, and before you know it, no one has boundaries, everyone feels burnt out and not in control of their time or lives and productivity plummets, despite 50+ hour work weeks. What example, and ultimately what culture, are you as the manager creating?
Are there any in-office tricks that help with productivity?
One of the best productivity tips is to zone your time. Focus exclusively on specific outcomes and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by tasks that appear urgent, but aren’t a priority.
We advise setting up automated email responses that outline specific times when you answer emails. This way no one thinks you’re ignoring them, and they know when they can expect a reply.
It’s important for this to become a company policy though, as it can create internal conflict if one department is expecting an answer to an urgent email and feels they are being ‘ignored’.
The world won’t end if an email remains unanswered for two hours – it just means everyone has to plan ahead and be proactive about their time, rather than reactive. With this one simple system, productivity should skyrocket.
Should leaders adapt their style to the situation?
We’re strong supporters of Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model (see sidebar), which does advise matching leadership style to the situation at hand. However, while different situations require a different response, such as taking control, or teaching and coaching, ultimately the most successful organisations encourage senior managers, middle managers and all employees to feel empowered.
To achieve this, you need to develop an organisation with a listening culture, and accountability structures.
A place that builds relationships and people with respectful boundaries, where staff are heard and acknowledged. The best thing you can do is make someone feel valuable: Hear them and allow them to exercise what they’ve brought to the table.
Can you give an example of where this goes wrong?
Something we often see in corporate situations is a manager who presents an idea that a team member came up with to the board, and then takes credit for it.
It’s a very short-sighted form of leadership, because while the manager might temporarily look good, the person who had the idea in the first place becomes discouraged and disengaged, which ultimately affects the overall creativity and productivity of the team.
Great ideas shouldn’t be conceived in isolation. They should be nurtured and developed and this can only happen in an environment of collaboration and trust.
A manager who takes credit for ideas that weren’t theirs does the exact opposite. Grow transparency around ideas so that everyone knows where they originated, and also feels comfortable adding to them.
The best cultures are built around ‘we’ thinking. They reward managers whose teams excel, instead of managers who shine independently of their teams. It’s important to get the whole team involved.
Is there a larger cultural issue at hand?
Trust, ego and a sense of autonomy can cause real stumbling blocks in organisations. Do you reward individuals or team success? Remember that what you reward is what you’ll get.
It’s a simple truth that most ideas aren’t highly sophisticated – the greatest strategies tend to centre on simple ideas of motivation and recognition, so encourage idea sharing and idea building within your team. Your people are your most valuable resource and so it’s important to find creative ways to tap into this.
Do all employees contribute to the bottom line?
Absolutely, and this is one of the single biggest mindset shifts an organisation can make. Imagine what would happen if the cleaner never came to work. Rubbish overflowing, dirty restrooms, no services for maintenance and client visits.
Once you understand the value that the cleaner adds to the organisation, you’ll start valuing everyone’s contributions to the overall whole. Encourage your managers to not only understand their own value, but encourage this thinking in their teams as well.
How important is it for teams to connect to corporate goals?
It’s incredibly important, but it’s also a double-sided issue. On the one hand, the organisation and its management are responsible for sharing the company’s goals.
You can’t expect everyone to connect to the company’s vision if they don’t fully understand what it is and how the goals contribute to attaining this.
Properly understanding and then connecting to the organisation’s goals is the difference between reactive and proactive employees, and dependant and co-dependant thinkers.
There’s a certain amount of responsibility for the employee as well. Employees need to know how they are adding value, and what the company is paying them for it. As the manager, encourage the team to find their motivators, their ‘why’ and to take ownership of their role in the organisation.
Too often we see a victim mentality where individuals see situations as happening to them, instead of how they can impact the world around them and their success within it. It’s all about an internal locus of control.
Encourage your team to engage with their own positions – make them a part of the solution. Ask them how they add value to the company, and expect an answer – get them to think about it.
A great way to foster engagement is by asking pertinent questions: What can contribute to this day? What will this day contribute to me?
Should organisations expect everyone to buy into their value systems?
Organisations need to look for value alignment. If an individual’s values are met (the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor), then by default they will buy into the business’s values. However, for this to work, each team member needs to be able to identify their own values, and evaluate how the company is helping them to achieve those values.
We only ever do things that serve us. Don’t expect buy-in on an organisational level if you don’t tap into that.
On the flip side, there will be some individuals whose values do not (and never will) align with those of the organisation. The situation won’t change, so it’s better for all parties involved if those employees move on.
In our courses, we run everything with full teams, and inevitably someone leaves after the course is complete. Invariably, the energy of the whole team and even the office changes for the better.
The organisation wins by rather utilising resources and energy on people who add value to the company as a whole.
To Get A Job Or Not Get A Job. What Are We Teaching Our Children?
Remember the days where if you went to school and studied a degree, you got a job and built a career that enabled you to retire comfortably? I don’t, in fact I’m not sure those days ever really existed. If they did, they are long gone.
Today STATS SA tells us only 1 in 3 of the youth in South Africa have a job, even worse still – 34% of graduates aged 15-24 are unemployed1. The bottom line is that there are not enough jobs to cater for every child that finishes school. Our children need to learn entrepreneurship. If we want a brighter future for them, we need to nurture, teach and develop the skills and behaviours required to create jobs of their own.
With no intention of knocking the school system it would seem for the most part it discourages entrepreneurial thinking on a fundamental level; it prepares students to become good employees. Tuck your shirt in, sit still, stand in line, do your homework, focus on the task, check this box, you get the picture. Three decades ago this may have worked but it won’t work when we are trying to teach our children to survive the forth industrial revolution and prepare for jobs that don’t yet exist!
It may sound like a cliché, but kids are our future. As a parent I believe one of the most important duties we have is to give our children the best possible start. We need to prepare them on how to live, survive and thrive in a world that is rapidly changing, mostly unpredictable and often unforgiving. This starts by identifying the skills and nurturing the behaviours that will give them the best chance for success.
Teaching entrepreneurship prepares our children for the future
Entrepreneurship encompasses so much more than starting and running a business. It’s a shift in mindset, a different way of thinking. Entrepreneurship views problems as opportunities and fuels creativity in the pursuit of solutions. All these skills can be applied to life.
Successful entrepreneurs are resourceful, self-confident and tenacious. They are great communicators and marketers, good at identifying and understanding risk. They have learnt from failure and made mistakes. Entrepreneurs are financially literate, understand cash flow and how to manage money. Again, these are skills that every child and student can benefit from.
To make it in the workplace of the future you will need to be self-confident, innovative, creative, motivated and curious.
Employers will need to hire staff that have the creative ability to innovate and ensure the longevity of their organisations. Those people that show entrepreneurial flair will be in demand in a world that is ever and more rapidly changing.
Exposing our children to entrepreneurship, teaching them the fundamental skills and behaviours required to start a business, and letting them know it is a career choice should be a requirement in all schools and endorsed and supported by all parents.
- Youth unemployment still high in Q1: 2018 http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=11129
How To, In Practice, Distinguish Between Executive, Non-Executive And Independent Directors And Their Functions
Learn more about the differences in executive and non-executive directors.
Definition of a director in terms of the Companies Act
Section 1 of the Companies Act 71 of 2008 (Companies Act) defines a Director as “a member of the board of a company, as contemplated in section 66, or an alternate director of a company and includes any person occupying the position of director or alternate director, by whatever name designated”.
Powers of directors
Section 66 of the Companies Act determines that the business and affairs of the company must be managed by or under the direction of its board and that the board has the authority to exercise all of the power and perform any of the functions of the company, except to the extent that the Companies Act or the Company’s Memorandum of Incorporation provides otherwise.
The board of directors, for the first time in our current Companies Act has been assigned the legal duty and responsibility and play a very important role in managing the affairs of the company and making vital decisions on behalf of the company.
Number of directors required on a board
In the case of a private company, or a personal liability company, the board must consist of at least one director and the case of a public company, or non-profit company, the board must consist of at least three directors. A JSE listed company requires at least four directors. The company’s Memorandum of Incorporation may however specify a higher number, substituting the minimum number of directors required.
How to distinguish between executive, non-executive and independent directors and their functions
A clear distinction is noticeable between the different types of directors in practice, even though the Act does not distinguish between executive, non-executive and independent directors.
The below table gives a clear understanding of the differences between executive and non-executive directors:
Member of the board of directors with directors’ duties.
|Part of the executive team, as an employee of the company and generally under a service contract with the company.||Not an employee of the company.|
|Involved in the day-to-day management of the company.||Not involved in the day-to-day management of the company.|
|In addition to a salary, does not receive directors’ fees.||May receive Directors’ fees, but does not receive a salary.|
|Shareholders are not involved in approving their salary packages.||Shareholders must approve their fees by way of special resolution, in advance.|
|Employee entitlements apply, such as annual and sick leave.||No entitlements apply.|
|Has an intimate knowledge of the workings of the company.||They contribute to the development of management strategies and monitor the activities of the executive directors.|
|They carry an added responsibility. Entrusted with ensuring that the information laid before the board by management is an accurate reflection of their understanding of the affairs of the company.||Plays an important role in providing objective judgement, independent of management on issues the company are facing.
Independent, non-executive director
An independent, non-executive director does not have a relationship, directly or indirectly with the company other than his or her directorship. They should be free of any relationship that could materially interfere with the independence process of his or her judgement and they do not represent the shareholders of the company.
An independent, non-executive director should be evaluated on an annual basis to determine if they are still considered independent.
The role of these directors
All directors should apply objective judgment and an independent state of mind, regardless of the classification as an executive, non-executive or independent non-executive director.
Executive directors may be appointed as non-executive directors on other boards if this does not influence their current position and is in accordance with company policy.
Before a director accepts the appointment, they should be familiar with their duties and responsibilities and be provided with the necessary training and advice.
Managing Your Priorities And Learning To Say No
How you use your time determines the degree of meaning or fulfillment you have and the money you make.
Getting more done is not about managing your time; it is about how you focus your attention and intention during the time you have. When you focus on scheduling your day to do high priority actions, they are more likely to get done.
Since you can have more than one kind of high priority action, it is wise to define them accordingly by further prioritising your high priorities. High priority items or actions can fall under one or more of the following categories:
- Those needing to be strategically planned (working on the business)
- Those needing to be done in relation to yourself
- Those needing to be done in relation to your employees
- Those needing to be done in relation to your clients, customers, patients…
- Those needing to be done that are creative (new divisions, services, products, markets…)
- Those needing to be delegated outside your company (outsourced)
- Those needing to be delegated inside your company (insourced).
It is essential to master the art of saying no to anything less important.
When you are unclear about what your true highest priority or business mission is, distractions can take you ‘off track’ and consume your time, attention, energy, focus, power of concentration and productive capacity.
Related: How To Say No Nicely
Knowing what your highest priority business mission and primary objectives are prevents you from being as easily distracted by every so-called ‘opportunity’ that comes along. It allows you to be more discerning about the activities you choose to take on board and those you discard. Clarity of mission gives you the ability to ignore distractions, and that can be incredibly inspiring and empowering.
You cannot please everyone so don’t waste your time trying. Continually saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no will cost you greater opportunities and lead you to bite off more than you can chew. Your time is finite.
Block out all less important distractions. Give them up. Embrace your trade-off.
Try eliminating, or scaling back some of your activities to determine if reducing or eliminating them makes any real difference in your results. This also helps you determine which actions are truly the most productive priorities. Deliberately eliminate or at least reduce your trivial, unimportant, unnecessary and irrelevant actions. Your intentional limits can help you become more limitless.
Sticking to your own higher priorities each day raises your self-worth. Take command of your time before others do and tell them the truth, or they may possibly keep demanding from you. Your integrity and, at times tactful bluntness, will allow you to get your most important job done. Your true friends or colleagues will respect your time and your priorities.
Since your work will expand or contract to fill the time allotted (Parkinson’s law), if you don’t fill your space and time with high priorities they can become filled with low priorities. And, if you don’t consume your energy and material resources with high priorities uses they can become consumed by low priority ones. If you don’t intensify your day with inspired actions things can slow down. Your time x your intensity will determine your results.
Many distractions that are being initiated by others are often opportunistic in nature. Many are simply others trying to sell you something – an idea, a viewpoint, an opinion, a friendship – in exchange for your valuable life and time. Simply being aware of what is being sold allows you to be more deliberate in deciding whether you want to buy or spend time on it.
Gracefully, respectfully and reasonably saying no, may temporarily disappoint the opportunist, but eventually it will lead them to respecting and appreciating you even more. It shows that you are a professional more than just an amateur and that you value yourself and your time more than their distractions. It is wiser to have a long-term gain in respect than a short-term popularity.
So ask yourself every morning what exactly is the highest priority action step I can take today to help me fulfill my most purposeful, meaningful, productive and profitable dream tomorrow.
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