Tag Archives: management tips

6 ways to be great in and outside your organisation

fly high

You can be equipped for a job but ill-equipped for success beyond that job. The reason is that most companies will train you to be great within the confines of that organisation and the way they work, not beyond it. This is why if you stay with one company for too long it can sometimes go against you because some employees may feel that you are too used to another companies way of working and may have difficulty adapting to theirs.

I value loyalty and personally I’m not one to change jobs every five minutes but I also believe that variety is valuable and the more varied you’re working experiences are the more equipped you are to handle a variety of situations and people. I think the reason why many people are frustrated and bored in their jobs is because they’ve simply stayed too long. Many people are too scared to look for something new; a job might be mundane and boring but many will say ‘at least it’s safe’. Staying in a job too long can knock your confidence and give you the feeling that you can’t do anything else and find anything better. I’m reminded of something I heard recently from a Pastor I know; “Never be afraid to lose your job to find your calling/purpose in life”.

I believe we all know in our hearts when it’s time to move on and look for a new challenge but many times we ignore the nudge and settle for the safe option, in this post I want to encourage you to embrace the ‘nudge’.

I’ve always made it a priority to train not just for where I am but for where I’m going  this has meant that although I haven’t made many career moves they’ve tended to be big career jumps, because I’ve been prepared for promotion, for example:

What How
Secured my first marketing job 3 days after my last university exam, before I had my results I knew what employers would be looking for, tailored my CV accordingly and applied for jobs while studying for exams
Promoted from Marketing Coordinator to Head of Marketing within 8 weeks of arriving in a new job I had the necessary experienceI had industry standard professional qualifications not just a degreeI worked to the standard before I had the title

Equipping a team as well as yourself

As a manager I also train and coach my team to equip themselves for success within the company and beyond it in the following ways:

  • By sending them on trainings that are relevant to their work as well as the direction that the industry is moving in
  • I deliberately get them to work to goals tied to the company’s success as well as their personal development goals
  • I encourage them to stay close to the industry and build their own networks in and outside the company
  • I constantly challenge their assumptions and encourage them to ask better questions, after all, the quality of learning is determined by the quality of our questions

In this way my role is twofold, both manager and a mentor.

So here are my  6 top tips for equipping yourself for success inside and outside the walls of the company you work for:

1.      Build your own networks inside and outside the company

LinkedIn makes this a whole lot easier than it used to be

2.      Stay close to your industry

This includes connecting with key influencers, becoming a member of relevant trade organisations and attending industry events. For me this meant becoming a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing very early on, through which I am now Chartered and sit on the local non-executive committee. I also connect with marketers I admire across social media.

3.      Read broadly

For me this is crucial it’s almost impossible to stay ahead of the game without reading; everything from, books to blogs and biographies

4.      Be committed to  continuous development

Continue your training and remember that ‘a degree is just that a degree of knowledge’ as my Pastor recently said. With the rate of change and knowledge increase in most industries, you cannot afford to stop at a degree. For me the CIM CPD program has been invaluable in this regard. It’s not your employers responsibility to keep your knowledge relevant and up-to-date, it’s yours so live life learning.

5.      Have a balanced life

Make time for a range of interests, research shows it makes you better at your job as it broadens your vision and improves  creativity.

6. Always be preparing for where you’re going

Focus on the future not just where you are today, remember a job is no longer for life it’s just for a season

Finally, don’t live to work, work to live.

Speak soon,

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Marketing Leadership – The Art of Marketing Warfare pt 7

So far in this series we’ve talked about what marketing strategies and tactics you can implement to impact your external environment. This post is about how the internal workings of your business and the way you organise and lead it, impacts how effective your marketing is. So in this post I want to discuss the role of leadership in marketing effectiveness.

Here’s why: there is no silver bullet in marketing, no hard and fast rules or proven methodologies that can guarantee success across the board. This means effective marketing often involves risk taking, tenacity, confidence and commitment, all important leadership qualities.

There will be times of intense pressure when you may be the one that has to make quick marketing decisions, step out on a hunch, and make the decision to spend limited resources on marketing initiatives based largely on faith.

There may be times when you will have to adopt the role of marketing leader and take responsibility for rallying your supporters around an idea, gain the attention of potential customers and convince them to become actual customers.

So if and when you find yourself in the position of marketing leader, here are a few tips to guide you:

1.   Get your house in order

One commentator on the chapter entitled ‘manoeuvring’ in the art of warfare states;

“As a general rule, those who are waging war should get rid of all the domestic troubles before proceeding to attack the external foe.”

You cannot have victory outside if it doesn’t first exist inside your business. Regardless of personal opinion everyone involved in helping you implement your marketing should be rowing in the same direction and committed to the goals set forth.

I’ve been in the position of having to implement marketing campaigns that I didn’t truly believe in and also having to motivate others to get on board with a marketing initiative that they weren’t overly keen on. In both positions I’ve seen the impact of unity; a united team can turn a bad idea into a positive campaign, as a result of strong execution and commitment. A disunited team can turn a great idea into a shambles, due to lack of commitment and poor execution.

My point is this, not everyone will like or even believe in your ideas but if you are going to succeed in your marketing endeavours you will need a team that is supportive and committed to the agenda that’s laid out.

Sun Tzu puts it this way: Manoeuvring with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.

2.   Care about people

 In war, three quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.” – Napoleon.

Nobody ever accomplished anything without the help of others.

So quite simply, value the people that support you.

3.   Acquire experience before you go to battle

Sun Tzu said: We are not fit to lead an army unless we are familiar with the face of the country, its mountains and forests, it pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.

One aspect of a leader’s role is to act as a guide to those that follow and to prepare them for what may lie ahead. If you have no experience of the type of situations, problems and conditions they’re likely to face you’re simply ill-equipped to lead them.

In past posts I’ve spoken about knowing your industry, market and customers, and yes, these things are included in this point. But it’s also about more than that; it’s about ‘sound judgement’ the capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions. This cannot be taught or obtained by reading books or studying, it comes with time and experience.

This type of knowledge is called ‘tacit knowledge’ and it’s defined as follows:

Tacit knowledge is not easily shared. It involves learning and skill, but not in a way that can be written down. Tacit knowledge consists often of habits and culture that we often do not recognize in ourselves. In the field of knowledge management, the concept of tacit knowledge refers to a knowledge possessed only by an individual and difficult to communicate to others via words and symbols. Tacit knowledge has been described as “know-how” – as opposed to “know-what” (facts) Source.

Here’s an example from Wikipedia:

 ‘‘We know a person’s face, and can recognise it among a thousand, indeed a million. Yet we usually cannot tell how we recognise a face we know, so most of this cannot be put into words.’’. When you see a face you are not conscious about your knowledge of the individual features (eye, nose, mouth), but you see and recognize the face as a whole.

It is this type of knowledge that is often instrumental in pulling off great victories in the midst of difficult situations.

My point is this; put in the work and take the time to really become proficient in your field before launching into the deep, hone your gifts and talents so you are able to guide your ship with competence, excellence and confidence.

After all, genuine credibility and expertise is the best marketing tool. So take the time required to prepare for the war and position yourself to win.

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3 simple questions to shrink your to-do list significantly

Mornings are my high energy times, so I often do my housework and chores  early in the morning before I leave for work. As I was washing the dishes one morning a week or so ago, It occurred to me that my to-do list was way too long to complete by the end of the week.

I make it a habit not to end a flow of thought with a problem I have to find a solution or at least a plan. These solutions often come to me in the form of questions -a wise man once said, the quality of your learning is determined by the quality of your questions. These are the questions I came up with:

Shrink your to do list significantly with these 3 questions:

Is this task linked to my goals?
If the bulk of what your doing today isn’t getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow delegate or delete it. Set goals, stay focused, and take steps towards your  goals daily.

Do I personally need to do this?
When I first became a manager I used to take ownership of every task that landed in my inbox and only delegate when I felt it was absolutely necessary, in other words rarely. As I’ve grown into my role I’ve realised that delegating is often the most effective thing for me to do, here’s why: 

Firstly, it is better for me to hand-over the tasks that members of my team are able to do so that I can spend my time doing the things they can’t. This not only gives me the time to focus on the most important things but also empowers my team and gives them the responsibility and autonomy to grow within their roles.

quite frankly my team are more skilled than me in certain areas and will simply do a better job than me on certain tasks. 

What is the cost vs. the benefit?
simply put, some tasks on your to-do list just aren’t worth the effort they require. We sometimes do things out of habit or because someone has asked us to, without thinking about the bigger picture or even asking ‘why?’. Get in the habit of thinking in terms of cost vs. benefit, you’ll soon realise that often the most helpful thing you can do is say No. 

Your time is the most precious possession you have, it is essentially your life, once spent there is nothing you can do to get it back. So I encourage you to spend it wisely and limit your to do list to the things that are most important to you and your goals.

One final tip, flow with your natural energy pattern – morning is my time, it’s when my energy is highest and my mind is filled with my best ideas, find yours and flow with it.


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Managing by Mintzberg – book review

I read this book as part of my 90 day plan – an action plan for my first 90 days as a new manager. My motivation for reading it was that I had never really grasped what a manger does and even when I got my current job managing a team of four, I really was none the wiser. Of course I knew in general terms, such as ensure marketing campaigns are run successfully and the team is well organised, but in terms of what a manager does day to day I really had no real clue (until I actually started doing the job and was hit squarely with the realities of managing).

As a marketer responsible for the operational elements of planning and running a campaign, tradeshows etc. prior to this,  I new and understood what this entailed, but once I found myself stripped of operational responsibilities and positioned as strategic planner and figure head it required not just a physical shift but more importantly a mental shift. I felt that I needed some direction with regard to the nuances that ‘managing’ entails, this book helped provide that.

It was very valuable to read this book whilst encountering many of the scenarios it describes. I wouldn’t say this book was a highly enjoyable read, as it felt quite tedious at times, very much like an academic text.  But it is a very valuable read and may even go as far to say it is a necessary read for managers and aspiring managers, I definitely understand why it is the ‘CMI Management Book of the Year 2010′.

My favourite things about the book

  • This book is based on Mintzberg’s observations during a day spent individually with 29 managers across a range of sectors this is incredibly value as the book is steeped in management practice which makes it all the more relevant and relatable.
  • I believe that currently there is an over emphasis on leadership and not enough on management, this skew is clearly evident in the comparatively disproportionate amount of leadership books on the market compared with management books. Mintzberg maintains that leadership is overrated, it is an integral part of management but not the be all and end all – he puts leadership in perspective and I really liked this.
  • Mintzberg asserts that management cannot be taught it has to be practiced – you will not get what a manager does until you are yourself a manager, it is a mesh of so many different threads that the manager is tasked with bringing together in a dynamic balance.
  • This book dispels many management myths and outlines clearly what managing is through a comprehensive description of management roles and a very useful model for managing.

This book has many nuggets of wisdom, it’s pragmatic, comprehensive and it’s honesty is reassuring – it’s comforting to know that the many dysfunctions and conundrums that I face on a daily basis are actually common place.

This book isn’t perfect – the chapters are very long and it’s not particularly easy to read but it’s definitely a worthy addition on any manager or aspiring managers bookshelf. Even if you just have a passing interest in management or you’ve just always wanted to know what it is that managers do, I would highly recommend it.

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