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Performance Booster And The Art Of Managing Talent

Melody Tomlinson and Diane Collier from the Performance Booster Programme on how to create better managers who grow your revenue, increase your profits and maximise efficiencies.

Nadine Todd

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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.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Successful SA Entreps Share Their Most Valuable Business Advice Ever Received

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?

Performance-Booster

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?

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

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?

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Surprising Things 5 Entrepreneurs Do in Their Lunch Breaks

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.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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Leading

How To Make Speedy Decisions As A Leader

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Dirk Coetsee

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“Trusting one another, however can never mean trusting with the lip and mistrusting in the heart.” – Mahatma Gandhi


“Self-trust is the first secret of success” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Rapid decision-making

Harvard research has identified amongst other key traits of the most successful CEOs’ of Fortune 500 companies the ability to make decisions quickly and act on them at a rapid speed albeit with the inherent acknowledgement that they might get it wrong forty percent of the time.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

Why is speedy decision making and a rapid pace of execution so critical? Top leaders know that making quick decisions combined with swift execution creates a much better chance of success as opposed to very slow and bureaucratic verdicts underpinned by little or no action.

When there is a high level of distrust amongst the stakeholders in any entrepreneurial venture literally everything slows down as negative arguments ensue and takes up an enormous amount of precious time. Forced action underpinned by distrust loses quality and speed and can potentially bring a business to its knees.

“The speed of trust” is therefore an extremely valuable principle that all Leaders should live by, that is if they wish to serve a higher purpose than themselves and others. Those Leaders whom have developed a high level of self-trust and have earned the trust of their team members have put themselves in the very advantageous position of being empowered to move towards their vision at a rapid pace through quickfire decisions positively multiplied by confident and competent execution.

“The speed of trust” does not mean that decisions are made without careful consideration and stakeholder input putting the level of quality of execution at imminent risk. It simply means that the decision-making process is quicker than most as mistrust does not cast unnecessary shadows of doubt over the intentions and ambitions of all the stakeholders.

A Leader or Leaders whom has fostered self-trust within themselves will not go through lengthy spells of procrastination that those whom lack self -awareness and suffer from severe self- doubt has to go through.

How do I execute at the speed of trust?

How do I practically bring the principle of the “speed of trust” to fruition within my business? Firstly, ensure that this critical principal is applied throughout all business processes which starts with hiring trustworthy people and by working those out of the business whom cannot be trusted.  Secondly, as  a Leader your actions and words echo throughout every aspect of the business therefore do what you say you are going to do. Admit to your mistakes and fix them.

Thirdly be authentic in your pursuit of the vision of your business. One of the possible ways to achieve that is by being a visible and living example of the business values that you advocate as a leader.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

Lastly in order for you to be trusted as a leader you must first show trust in others. Trust others by giving them more responsibility and verbalise your high level of trust in your team members. Passionately speak about this principle and its positive fruits at every opportunity. Make the practical display of this principle by employees or any other stakeholders known to all stakeholders and be lavish with your praise when anyone is willing to earn the trust of other team members.

A very good example of this principle in action was embodied by the Supreme Russian commander, Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov whom never lost a battle and was respected by both his men and his enemies. He earned the trust of his men by being amongst them as often as he could, by sharing their hardships and by offering them the most authentic and quality military training known to man within that period of history.

Suvorov was a humble student of warfare and documented every detail of his learning experiences which included setbacks that he faced. He observed the morale of his men first hand and ensured that he inspired them not only through his inspiring speeches but by being a living example of discipline and bravery.

I will leave the reader with an important question to ponder, one that has echoed throughout history: Do you trust enough to be trusted?

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What Kind Of Leader Are You?

Your effectiveness in scaling your business starts with the kind of leader you are. Here’s how you can build yourself up into a leader others will follow.

Nicholas Haralambous

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When you are in start-up mode it’s tough to take a step back and think about the kind of leader you are or want to be. Most of the time you’re fighting to keep your business alive, never mind think about how you lead.

This is especially challenging when it’s faster and more efficient to just step up and do things yourself. It’s easier for you to make the decisions, do the work, check the work, follow up on the work, etc. However, it’s this situation that prevents young companies from scaling to the next level.

Ask More Questions

I work really hard every day to be quieter. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail so dismally that I actually do more damage than good. You see, I like to talk. I like to hear other people talk and I like to bash around ideas until they become something bigger, something better and something that can move from idea into action.

Related: Your Leadership Journey Starts Now… And Go!

Coupled with liking to talk, I also like being right. Who doesn’t? Add onto these two things the fact that I like to read and research and then throw in a teeny bit of ego or pride and it’s a recipe for leadership disaster.

If I am the most well-read, loudest and most opinionated person in a meeting then all that happens is that I end up pitching an idea, getting everyone to agree with this idea and then assigning the work on the idea to become a reality. Basically, I am working with, for and amongst myself. It’s an echo chamber that leads to bad ideas surviving and an unhappy team leaving.

The Collective Is More Intelligent Than the Individual

As a leader and founder, you probably feel like you are the person with the best understanding of the problem you are trying to solve and the best person to solve the problem. This can lead to a dictatorial approach to leadership, team inclusion and problem solving. You have an idea, you tell your team and they do what you tell them.

If this is how you do it then I have to ask you a simple question: Why did you hire smart people? Just so you could tell them what to do? If that’s the case rather hire capable but cheap people, not the best.

Your best people are there to help you scale your business beyond your own thinking and time. There are a set amount of hours in the day. There are only so many emails you can answer in your day.

A good example in my business is customer support. We pride ourselves in our impeccable customer service online and offline. I can’t physically answer every question posed by customers but I can hire incredible colleagues, entrust them with my vision and views on our customers and then trust them to go out and use their good judgement.

Work With The Best

Here’s the kicker to being a good leader: You need to work with the best people.

This is not something I say as a passing statement. I want you to stop reading right now and think about the ten people you interact with at your company every day. Are they the best people you could be working with? If not, why not? How do you find the best people and bring them into your business? Go and do that.

Related: You’re The Boss, So Be The Boss

It’s important to work with the best for two very simple reasons.

Working with the best people pushes you to be better. If you are literally the smartest person in the room in every aspect of your business it means that you are surrounded by subpar players and you are not learning anything. The people around you are meant to educate you and push your business into places you didn’t even know were there.

Second, working with the best people attracts other incredible people. If you have a business full of average team members, can you guess what kind of people they pull towards your business? More average or less than average people. Why? Because average people don’t want to be surrounded by incredible people. If they are, they look worse and not better.

It’s incredibly difficult to be a good leader all of the time. In fact, it’s close to impossible. What you can do is try to be a leader who communicates, learns and grows with your team in an open manner.

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All The Business Wisdom You Need From 4 Famous Entrepreneurs

Combine the knowledge of the greatest entrepreneurs with your own hard earned lessons.

Brian Hamilton

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There’s a lot of deification of entrepreneur “personalities.” The truth is that a few entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are probably luckier than good. But, some of the praise and deification is warranted. There have been some fantastic business leaders in this country, and one can learn a ton from studying them. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the four entrepreneurs who have taught me the most over the years.

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