This week’s anonymous career advice we received a big question that is a simple one-word answer but requires more explanation and a deliberate decision to be made by you.
Dear focus, a simple question: Is being visible and playing the game necessary?
A simple but important question!
The TLDR answer is YES!
Unfortunately, it is more necessary than many people realise. Every business I have ever worked in has had levels of the internal political game, some at low-level others it is all about playing the game at full speed.
The Important Truth
The truth that many companies will not tell you or do not onboard you with and empower you with the most important piece of information: How to succeed in this business.
This is months of detective work, asking questions and for many trial and error. This is where you need to build a strong and safe network around you and understand the motivations and drivers of those around you and above you.
Positive Being Visible
There are often times you will think being visible is a negative but actually being visible can be and should be seen as a positive for you, your career and your team.
Being visible often means you are keeping people informed, you are communicating well and you have ideas, insights and feedback (not just opinions) that will progress the company. These are all important traits that leaders typically seek out.
This week in the anonymous career advice column, we tackle something many managers will encounter when taking over a team or a department.
Dear Focus, I have recently taken over from a bad manager, they have dented the team’s confidence and they have zero trust, what should I do?
One of the guaranteed occurrences in management careers is we take over from a bad manager.
However good a manager you believe you are there will be certain aspects of your management style that will remind someone of their previous manager and open professional scars or wounds that need to heal.
Almost all management styles differ, especially when you come in from another company and take over an existing team that have worked closely together for a year.
The best approach is to create a simple transition plan for the team to move forward and become a trusted part of the team and the company.
Our recommended approach is to listen and ask a number of questions and address these concerns and previous experiences:
1 – Ask for insights
Ask your team for insights and examples of poor management. This should not be considered a session to be completely negative but a step towards a proactive therapy session
2 – Acknowledge poor leadership
One of the most important steps is to identify and highlight there were a number of issues and recommend how you can work to improve this collectively.
Be clear everyone has shortcomings and you will try your hardest to remove these behaviours from your management
3 – Identifier your style and talk it through with the team
One important step almost all leaders I have worked under or with has called out their style and talked through what they are good at and what they are bad at and how they like to work, especially now you are armed with important information.
4 – Create space
The most important step is to take a step back and observe how the team performs and look to come to you with any issues or how they work through their issues when they think no one is watching.
Trust is built through experiences but also knowing they can come to you when they need to. It is vital to be available when they need assistance
5 – Ask for open feedback
Once you have given the team space and become approachable, ask for open feedback in a form you can keep a record of and show you have made progress.
Recording feedback and keeping open dialogue gives you a way to encourage more open communication.
Know when to take it offline or move to one to one
6 – Meet monthly and celebrate
Something that many good sports coaches do is meet with their players and teams directly regularly, this is also a trait some of the best people managers I have worked with or feedback I have received directly.
The next step: celebrate as a group and as a team to build more trust and recognise there has been both business performance improvements and personal developments.
When there have been examples of behaviours being repeated or removed, call it out early.
It is important to note: Good managers set behaviours, set their teams to succeed and help to guide company culture and improve organisational health, bad managers set environments and often create poor cross-functional collaboration and internal fighting. Bad managers can also completely by accident create strong team bonds – this can be great news for you or a challenge to be aware of, tribal behaviour can be combative against a new leader. Learn when to guide or when just to get out the way.
Best of luck with removing the negative energy and previous leadership issues, this won’t be an instant problem to solve but one with a couple of positive steps and then a giant leap will be made. Think of the first few weeks as a hangover period that will clear and lift and clarity and delivery ensue.
As Focus mission is to fix the broken world of work, we have spoken to a large number of “leaders” and managers about what is broken in their workplace and how we can collaborate on fixing fundamentals to complex problems that they are facing as a business or as a leadership team.
Our dedicated weekly Focus newsletter, leaders letters, helps people with a senior title evolve and become leaders or improve their leadership skills.
The Elephant In The Room
Let’s address the elephant in the room, managers and above rarely receive or seek out management coaching or training.
This is a big problem…
and importantly for their businesses.
Why is this a big problem? Your personal development will slow, your career will likely stagnate and your business performance will only hit a certain level.
Managers of all levels and experience require constant improvement, yes you can learn on the job, however, typically you do not improve any of your core skills or arguably, more importantly, your core weaknesses.
How can you improve any baseline numbers or hit targets or KPI’s when you are failing to improve yourself?
Professional Business Requires Coaching
Sports and business have many parallels, the difference is in almost all professional sports you have dedicated coaches, you receive coaching daily for your professional career and the majority of the team you are coached on improving your weaknesses and improving your core skills and then applying this in a team and squad environment.
Even the worlds best and greatest athletes are coached seek help and receive coaching every day! This should be no different for business professionals.
This very rarely happens in the work setting, the only time this happens is when executives are recommended a coach or a startup is maturing and the investment team seeks out a coach for a founder or the founding team.
Career Stagnation Is Your Problem
Almost every career stagnates at one place or another, this can be more many reasons, the most common; you stop wanting to progress and seek out help, seek out improving your weaknesses or seek out a mentor or a professional coach.
Step up and develop your career!
Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First
Put on your own oxygen mask is a famous business quote that translates to look after yourself first, this could not be truer notably when it comes to actually helping your team or business improve, if you are not improving yourself, how are you improving others?
Invest In You
One of the big takeaways in talking to leaders is they end up not using their training budget or “wasting it conferences”.
Stop wasting your annual training budget on conferences you learn small and disposable pieces of information or fail to attend because you are too busy.
Get Focus:Professional Management Coaching
Focus offers a tailored package that has been built for managers across all levels, whether you are a:
A newly promoted manager
A Head of Team or Head of Department
A Director who is lacking confidence or delivery is slipping away
A VP who is too busy juggling meeting requests and sitting in back to back meetings to develop themselves or their team
A C-suite member who has become detached from their discipline or lost their influence over their team.
We work together with you, we then:
Build a tailored package to your specific situation
Build a growth plan together
Build your skills, session by session
Build out your confidence and communications skills
Build out a set of templates for you to use and roll out internally
Each coaching session is 60 minutes and virtual. Each session is one to one, with homework to improve your skills and actions to tackle and roll out after every session.
No Timewasting! To ensure we are compatible and you want to be coached, we arrange a quick 15-minute session to run your situation and see if we would be a good fit.
The packages can be paid for directly from your business or if you are looking to pay for this yourself this can be set up. This enables you to invest in yourself or your company to invest in your long term success.
Get in touch below to start your coaching with Focus.
I know from speaking to a number of leaders recently they felt like August used to be the slow period but August 2020 has been unrelenting. With this, there is a lot of onus on leadership teams.
Unfortunately, there are many management teams that are top-down or CEO/founder lead aka led by a HiPPO (a reminder a HiPPO is “highest-paid person’s opinion” or the “highest-paid person in the office.”).
There are many people within organisations that suggest they do not know why they are asked to do the work that they are or the way they “have to” work as the boss told them to do it or do it this way.
I have worked in organisations where the most senior by title feels like they have to make the decisions and they want to be seen to lead so they refuse to listen, these organisations fail for many reasons but one of the main long term reasons they fail is HiPPO’s acting like this. They kill the business by their actions. This inspired me to break down the ten (yes ten) HiPPO’s that are ruining your business.
I recommend you review the 10 HiPPO’s and hopefully find out you are not one of them. I highly suggest you look out for if you are “The This Is My Way HiPPO” or “The Dominant” as you are likely killing morale.
As a bit of fun I recommend sharing this post to your leadership team and wait for feedback, if you do not receive any, you are likely one of the ten.
This week focus on: Connecting with your team, understand if they believe they are a HiPPO and how they are impacting your business. Consider how you can delegate more effectively and if there are decision-making frameworks you can introduce to take the onus off you and improve trust across the business.