Let me set the scene for you. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a Starbucks near Harrods with my family enjoying coffee and cake when I became aware of the conversation behind me. Two managers of a well-known retail chain – with outlets in Bluewater and Lakeside – were sitting at the next table discussing their business and the performance of their staff. By the time they’d finished slinging mud at every one of their employees, loudly naming and shaming specific people and putting all the blame for performance and profit problems on everybody else, I was feeling enormous sympathy. I didn’t want to console this pair of morons; I wanted to extend my deepest condolences to everyone who works for them.
This type of blame game is one of the triggers that’ll set me off in an instant. It’s a great example of poor management, as well as how profoundly unprofessional conduct can be terrible PR for your business. Here they were, discussing confidential staff problems in the earshot of potential customers, and blithely unaware that the place for all this venom and criticism was much closer to home. If I hadn’t been with my wife and daughter, I’d have gone over and talked to them. As it was, all that browsing at Harrods wasn’t going to do itself.
So, what would I have said? Firstly, I’d have pointed out that if everything they were complaining about was true, these managers need to start looking to themselves. Imagine knowing there are all these performance and behavioural problems with staff in front facing roles and doing nothing but complain about it. I’d have also asked them to consider what’s going on with their staff when they are not there, given how bad they are when their managers are watching. A retail company needs to deliver excellent customer service, I dread to think how their shoppers are being treated. I’m also wondering if the leadership team and this company’s investors know what is going on at the operational level of their business.
How could they turn it around?
What’s sad is that there are plenty of potentially great businesses being destroyed by bad management. Sadder still is the fact it’s simple to start fixing things and making progress. Here are three ways that any manager can start improving things for their business straight away.
– Become a people person
Ask yourself these key questions: do you know your staff? Do you know each person that works for you by name, and why they act as they do? If the answer is no, I’m sorry to say you are not the best manager you can be, or you haven’t got good managers working below you to bring you that information. It’s not just good for company morale to feel like your leaders know who you are and what you do, it’s also crucial to improve performance. It’s not hard to find out what makes your people tick, so start getting to know them today.
– Making conflict constructive
If there is conflict in your business, you must not let it fester. It won’t go away on its own. Instead, you need to deal with it head-on. Conflict is an insidious beast that pervades the whole team and causes untold damage and disruption. A good business coach can help you resolve low-level disputes, and there are many fine conflict resolution and mediation experts who have strategies that will bring harmony back to your office. Nothing will change unless you are proactive, so it’s in your best interests to get started.
– Invest in personal development for managers
There are many people who are currently working in managerial positions who’ve never been trained or supported in how to be a manager. There are also many managers who’ve gone on tons of training courses to improve their skills and never put their learning into practice. The results are that you have a sub-standard manager and a hole in your bank account where all that training course money used to be. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great training workshops and instructors out there, but if there is no aftercare or follow-up after the course, it won’t be effective. When you train and develop your managers, make sure there are checks in place, goals and accountability strategies to support them in the real world. We know what bad managers mean for business, and on the flip side, great managers are incredibly valuable. Coach them, support them and cherish them.
If you’d like to learn more about leadership, management coaching or how to get the very best out of your workforce, get in touch on 01603 567794 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.