Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Service - Australia Post and Going That Bit Extra

Post Mistresses (or is it now post persons), Packages and Elderly Moments

I live in a smallish village called Montville which is in Queensland. Our post mistress Susan gives me the impression that she has an extreme dislike for those that don't always strictly follow procedures. I must say that I have (I think) always a had a pleasant relationship and dealings with our post person.

Some time ago a couple of neighbours advised me that they had mail that was not delivered as their residential address was shown on the mail they were sent (which does not have a delivery service), rather than their post office box.

Recently I bought an item and being aware of the rules asked the shipper how it was to be sent… "door to door" was the reply, "by courier". When I received the shipping confirmation I noticed it was an Australia Post courier. I immediately went to see Susan to explain the problem, apologise that it was going to be incorrectly addressed and asked her to do me a favour and hold it anyway. After a lecture (not a customer talk) all seemed settled. 

Sure enough it arrived and when I picked it up it a had a big note about about how I must use the PO Box. (see pic). I commented on the need for the note, considering our previous discussion and was given a short lecture about being "trained to do it correctly". Then, in an attempt to bring some humour into the awkward moment my retort was… 'if she wanted to tell me everything six times we would need to be married'. No smile was forthcoming.

Vets, Returned Mail and Dogs 

Sure enough I get a call today from my vet saying their mail was being returned… it's time for my dogs' annual needles. They didn't have my PO Box address as I wasn't expecting any mail from them and in case they had to physically find me for an emergency.

Now I understand the need for rules however I sadly miss the days when the attitude was "I know who this is and I'll make sure they get their important letter". Susan's attitude in this case was, from my perspective, 'its all just about me' and 'I have the power to disrupt so I will'.

Funny enough recently my Rotary Club gave her an award for service… perhaps a mistake… I wonder why she didn't want to accept it at our public presentation.

I guess even poor service is better than no service at all however, the postal service's vision is "Australia Post is committed to providing high-quality mail and parcel services to all Australians. Our enthusiastic, professional people will build a progressive commercial corporation through a commitment to high levels of customer satisfaction." Maybe I should print it frame it and give it to her to hang on the post office wall. No maybe not.

As lesson in customer service and why monopolies are a curse from

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Why Businesses Fail - Sales

Poor sales performance is a major contributor to the demise of many. Obvious on the surface however, what’s the problem? Changes in the market place, technological advances, disruption of key relationships, over dependence on one customer or key product and poor sales planning are all major contributors to failure.

Two critical planning issues are, quantity and quality.

QUANTITY - The almost sickening pace of ever-changing market conditions means annual sales plans (and budgets) are a thing of the past. In the current environment ‘living’ (continuous) plans, or at least quarterly targeting are needed. How quickly do motor vehicle models change, telephone systems evolve and computers become outdated? How quickly does a fickle customer base move to a new brand or make a substitute buying decision? Mechanisms for adjusting to an ever-changing reality are a must.

QUALITY - When the sales plan is done who is involved? It should be the entire executive team supported by all the sales staff and any outside consultants that contribute to the sales and marketing efforts. Advertising agents, marketing and PR consultants and yes even the financial advisors, economists and political scientists. All departments must get on board with the concept that ‘the sales department is not the whole company, however the whole company had better be the sales department’ and that...


Changes in the market place… 

Hotels can provide a great example of market place myopia and a reluctance to walk away from a traditional perspective. To start with, say we decide to focus on catering to the government sector which through budget constraints suddenly decides meetings, conferences and expensive ‘private room dinners’ are out. How about if we rely on the Japanese tour markets and the economy collapses and oops no customers and a lot of highly paid Japanese speaking staff who are doing little more than eating up the payroll. What if we set ourselves up as a five star super deluxe property that caters to high-end corporate customers and September 11 event occurs and everyone starts teleconferencing? The problem is that while, say the government sector is flourishing; often too little attention is placed on developing other markets. Constant repositioning and adjustment to capture market opportunities and close monitoring of market trends is a must to survive in today’s volatility. 

If we are going to cater for an ever-changing future we need to constantly train to meet that future. 

Many organisations (including hotels) don’t seem to invest enough in modern business methods and particularly in modern selling and lots of sales staff still do boring ‘presentations’. Example: I remember a tourism publication that stated that Thailand (a great holiday destination) is going to loose major market share because it can’t find trained managers to run its tourism related businesses. I mean the entire country may well suffer because a few key industry operators are too short sighted to invest in the ‘soft skills’ needed for the future. Thailand’s woes were exacerbate then of course by the political turmoil that racked the country for some years.

Corporate culture and fine traditions are great however…


A big danger that I have seen overlooked time and time again is … too much business from one customer. For hotels (as an example) this seems to be the problem of constantly struggling with big time ‘introducers’ whose buying power is so great they are able to command the market at minimal profit whilst reserving large percentages of a hotels inventory. I think perhaps the evolution of the modern independent traveller using direct ordering through the Internet may in time put paid to this lot. Hotel groups selling across the 3, 4, 5 star and super deluxe properties might give us all a clue on how we all need to think. Capturing different market segments and reducing our reliance on one or two major introducers should be a commandment. (I can never understand why more hoteliers don’t design individual properties that cater for a broader spectrum of customers, perhaps along the line of some cruise ships).

Sound business practice also means sales people must think ‘big picture’ and to make sure they/we are acting as a ‘company team’ and that we are putting the organisation’s overall results ahead of our own ‘small area’ priorities. A friend in the event management business recently told me that he had two hotels in the same group arguing over his business and cutting each others prices and he was both amused and perplexed by this situation. He had decided that in future he was going to use another chain as although he had made a short term gain, the hotels sales team’s behaviour made him nervous and question their professionalism and he felt uneasy about accommodating his customers in either hotel. Were the sales operators of these organisations acting as a team and looking at the big picture… maybe not and what damage was done to the long-term result for the organisation and its prospect for future sales?


Poor sales and marketing and the role of intelligence…

Company difficulties can also arise from insufficient understanding of the competition and not knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to those of our business rivals and in relation to a changing market. This lack of knowledge and understanding will inevitably lead to us forfeiting opportunities. How much competitor analysis is undertaken by those businesses that fail? I suggest little or none. (Do we do competitor analysis and market trend analysis on a regular basis… no huh)? Managers need to carefully look at the total market for new business opportunities rather than just trying to do the same old same old at 110%. 

We must avoid becoming blinded by our own perspective (or lack of perspective) on the market or of becoming too immersed in operational details that can cause us to lose sight of how the overall operation is progressing. Lets face they guy on TV who sometime back said ‘Germany will never again be a leading economy if it insists on continuing to make manufactured products that no one wants to buy’, was right. The best production in the world won’t save us from the bloody-minded attitude that “this is what we do and we don’t want to change”. 

On a more light hearted note, maybe we also need to look at the ratio of sales staff to administration and production and perhaps sack two accountants, four engineers, fifty percent of the HR department and anyone we are carrying on the payroll out of some perverse sense of loyalty. Then spend the money we save… to hire, train, encourage, cajole, push or even glorify the sales team. That’s where to money is… with their ‘best mates’… “THE CUSTOMERS”



If your company is not constantly reinventing itself can I suggest your need to move to an organisation that is. The big question we all need to ask… Is my organisation moving with the times, does management have a sound vision of its future and is the vision appropriate for where the world appears to be heading?

More on business on orglearn

Thursday, 27 September 2012

How To Build Trust in Organizations with Peers Colleagues and Bosses

In your communications be specific and direct. Don’t avoid the “elephant in the room”, bring issues it to the fore early and often. If problems are occurring or others are not performing as you wish let them know with tact and in private. Use a calm and logical approach to your communication and avoid abruptness.

Share credit with those that assisted in wins you have had, even go to the point of slightly overstating their contribution or as someone said “when in doubt, share”.

Resolve issues or solve problems through direct communication at with person causing the difficulty, don’t bring in the boss or others. One to one is best.

If you are doubtful about your role in a project or proposed work related activity, tell other stakeholders of your concerns upfront. If other duties and work issues overtake you when engaged on an ongoing commitment, advise of the difficulties you are having, or going to have as soon as you believe problems will occur.

Spend non-work time networking with your colleagues, don’t just wander off alone during breaks and always be involved in any volunteer activities your organisation sees as worthwhile.

Don’t ask loaded or rhetorical questions, ask only “non-assumptive” questions with couching them in any “spin” or as a way to push some secret agenda.

Make only promises you can keep and if events overtake you admit it don’t avoid the issues.

If your organization has a formal lines of authority responsible for particular tasks or to resolve issues don’t step outside the existing system and practice full disclosure of facts and potentially useful information.

Admit to your mistakes and never rope others into your problems, don’t try to share the blame by pushing your real difficulties onto, or by finding fault in others. NEVER discuss (read gossip) about another employee or department particularly if they are having difficulties… NEVER gloat or demonstrate that you are enjoying the demise of others.

Be on time, make decisions, don’t procrastinate and show the strength of your self-belief and character by being willing to be wrong and live with the consequences. 

Don’t scoff at another’s opinions or efforts and add support to those in difficulty. Always look at the positive intent of risky approaches to new ways of doing things and if asked honest opinions or advice with support for the fact that others are willing to try a new approach.

Have enough self-control (and demonstrate it) to overcome immediate or short-term feelings in the interests of maintaining ongoing and long term associations.

Public communication and behaviour are a small tip of a very large personal iceberg of values and belief, be willing to question your belief system and grow as a person. Don’t dogmatically stick to what you were indoctrinated with as a youngster, be will to change your perspective.


The following is a list of words that others need to be using when they describe you if you are to gain and maintain their trust; 

committed, confident, fearless, communicative, predictable, reliable, correct, forgiving, clear, factual, unbiased, respectful, reasonable, confidential, contributing, even, defining, accountable, interested, calm, resolute, tactful, sincere, frank, listener, patient, answering, sharing, fair, timely, honest, decisive, neutral, competent, consistent, explicit, responsible, transparent, close (near), willing, collaborative, accurate, graceful, helpful

A final thought on trust… always seek win/win solutions. Understanding the elements of trust and being able to sincerely build trust is essential for effective leadership. Trust me!?

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sales and Marketing Are Different


Sales is about face to face personal contact with new and existing customers to present the buying proposition. 

Sales implements strategies for overcoming resistance to your product or service and provides feedback to marketing and operations. Critical functions are networking and building long term relationships. Sales is primarily about closing the deal and completing the paperwork. The personal attributes of a sales professional are quite different to that of a marketing professional. Successful sales people must be great with human relationships, have strong personalities, high levels of emotion and drive and be highly motivated and able to handle getting a "no". Sales people need to be mentally tough.


Marketing is responsible for defining the target market preparing and analysing statistics to define potential and is responsible qualifying prospects. 

While marketing concentrates on who to call on sales concentrates on executing the call. Marketing also looks at customer touch points and develops strategies to improve the customer experience. Marketing is about arming sales reps with the collateral, web presence and promotional programs needed to make a compelling case for doing business with you.
Marketing is about by researching and reviewing customer wants and needs, along with analysing sales successes and failures in order to reshape product/service offering to meet customer demands. Marketing assists in developing meaningful loyalty programs, reviewing customer experiences and crafting entirely new product and service offerings.

A typical marketer will be able to sit and do analysis for long periods of time and be able to test sales activity and  suggestions against statistical evidence to assess risks and/or opportunities. Personally traits of marketing professionals differ dramatically from that of sales professionals. 


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Functional or Chronological Resume, Which is Best?

I recently read an article that advocated having a functional resume rather than the  traditional chronological resume. The reasons given were particularly in relation to  those that are "in a career transition", have employment gaps or suffer from "little experience". The points were well made and the arguments presented were, from my point of view, quite sound. What really got my attention was the large numbers of comments that disagreed with the writers suggestion.

Typical of the comments were: "…recruiters dislike functional resumes and you need to get through the recruiter's screen first. I strongly recommend a chronological resume…" and "… I'd be really careful about this. Most hiring managers hate functional resumes, because they immediately make us wondering what the person is trying to hide; they look shady."

I decided to conduct a resume preference survey and my findings are below. I will admit the samples are small however no less than the number of commenters on the original blog post.

Now I'm not sure whether this adds to the difficulty of choosing which style is best however it is worth further discussion and perhaps yip need to send of both formats if you are unable to "suss out" which style is preferred by the recruiter you are approaching.

I would like some comments and the style I prefer is here: resume example.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sales: The Number One Top Tip

Prospective buyers are unlikely to come straight out and tell you what they want from your product or service. If we are going to sell, or help a prospect with their buying decision, we need use an effective 'technique' to uncover their real reasons for buying.

There is only one way to effectively find out what is going on in our prospects head… ASK QUESTIONS!

As I have said before… "Good questioning technique is the most important (and powerful), competence that salespeople can develop. FACT: People are usually SKEPTICAL ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE TOLD however, they generally BELIEVE WHAT THEY SAY. "

So…. If salespeople ask the right questions they increase their chances of uncovering the prospect's real desires or wants. The additional benefit is they usually end a with the prospect believing that they are credible and that the salesperson's product information or ‘sales’ claims are truthful.

Remember before you start asking a prospect questions you should ask for permission to do so. A good basic start is, "In order to help you find what is best for you do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions". It's all about good communication and human relation skills.

More sales stuff on:

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Entrepreneurial Business Checklist

Today more than ever business success depends on two distinct and inherently different issues, those of efficiency and effectiveness. 

"Efficiency is concerned with product and service delivery, quality improvement and cost control, while effectiveness is more concerned with opportunity recognition, knowledge acquisition and creativity. The need to be more entrepreneurial cannot be argued however, what are the real differences between old style organisations and truly entrepreneurial organisations." orglearn

Quote: “doing things better V’s doing better things”. (unknown)

So is your organisation entrepreneurial by nature? The following table should provide some insights:

Entrepreneurial Orgs. CharT

So how does your organisation rate? Is it set up to take advantage of an entrepreneurial future or is it locked in the past and strangled by a bureaucracy just struggling to maintain the status quo? 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Three Sins of Poor Time Management

Failure to Delegate. Many business operators, or mangers for that matter, don't fully utilise their human capital. Actually I think the term "human capital" perhaps to change our attitude should be referred to and thought of as a pool of "human potential". The old problem of effectively delegating tasks still seems to be badly handled by many. Although initially time consuming, in the longer term delegating tasks will free up vast amounts of of time and create opportunities for other vital forward thinking to activities. Delegation of course will also allow for much more valuable engagement with colleagues and staff. More here if you want it: How to Delegate 

Poor Prioritisation. Anyone in business simply must prioritise their activities by separating things that have to get done from those that should be done, The problem of course is that often lots of tasks come up that are easy, particularly in the "should be done" pile and we are tempted to do what is easy rather than that which is important. Setting Priorities, more here if you want it: Setting Priorities See point 8

Lack of Streamlining. Great time management gains can be made by streamlining various aspects of daily workflow. Some formal review of 'standard' procedures needs to become a regular part of the work culture. Outside partners such as service providers, suppliers and customers can be enlisted to help with process improvement if you are not into a full blown total quality management approach. More on Management here, if you are interested: Management Short Course

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Is the Need for Quality Being Overlooked

Some years back Total Quality Management (TQM) was a prevalent management objective.  Today it seems to have fallen out of favour and other issues seem to take precedent. 

Should we go back to basics and revisit the principles of TQM

What is "Quality"

Quality is physical or non-physical characteristic that constitutes the basic nature of a thing or is one of its distinguish features, ‘Webster's New World Dictionary’.

Quality is fitness for use, ‘Juran’.

Quality is conformance to requirements, ‘Crosby’.

Quality should be aimed at the needs of the customer, present and future, ‘Deming’.

Quality is the loss (from function variation and harmful effects) a product causes to society after being shipped, other than any losses caused by its intrinsic functions, ‘Taguchi’.

Quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs, ‘International Standard Organization’.

Quality can be quantified as follows:

Q = P / E 

where, Q = quality, P = performance, E = expectations

If Q is greater than 1.0, then the customer has a good feeling about the product or service. Of course, the determination of P and E will most likely be based on the perception when the organisation determining performance and the customer determining expectations.

I must say I dealt with a few business lately where the quality of service if not the product has left me feeling less than happy as a customer.

So as I started perhaps its time for some businesses to re-visit these principle particularly those in the tach industry and those that primarily operate online.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Management: Bird That Didn't Fly South

The bird that didn't fly south for the winter Age old story with a moral

A small bird sat in a tree on the bottom branch. He wasn't happy there, however being one of this summer's hatchlings he was forced to stay on a lower branch by the older birds.

When it cam time to fly south for the winter he decided to let the others go and stay behind so he could sit on any branch he wanted.

As the cold weather and snow set in the bird began to freeze.

Eventually he fell to the ground.

As fortune would have it a bull passed and dropped a warn fresh cow pat on him. The warmth from the pat thawed the bird out and he was of course happy and revived and began to sing. Unfortunately the farm cat heard the singing and came to investigate, found the bird and pulled it out to eat it. Luckily enough the bird escaped and flew to the very top of the tree.

Well of course he sang and song about his good fortune. After some time the cold got him again and he fell out of the tree dead and frozen!

Four morals to this story:

1. Someone who puts you in the shit isn't necessarily your enemy.
2. Someone who pulls you out of the of shit isn't necessarily your friend.
3. If you're happy and contented in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut.

Most importantly:

4. Bullshit might get you to the top of the tree however, it wont keep you there!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Why You Should Fund Your Managers to Join Rotary

The Managing Director said "you are joining Rotary" …"huh" I said that's for old blokes! Well now I'm an old bloke and I've been in Rotary for over 30 years... So what you may ask…!

I am now a member of my eighth Rotary Club and I have also been a member of clubs in five countries. So what has Rotary taught me and how might it help developing in your managers.

There are obvious advantages that come with being a Rotarian and they're not just about the old "its just for business networking". Sure that is an obvious outcome however I have seen plenty of inept members almost destroy the positive side of the opportunity by their behaviour in their Rotary club. If you join a club with the view of just selling your products and services to other members you may well be very disappointed. I have however over the years sold are large proportion of my services both as a financier and corporate trainer through my Rotary connections. What I have said is not contradictory.... its more a matter of how you go about things. People like to deal with individuals they can trust and in Rotary you gain trust and respect from the efforts you put in on behalf of your club and of course the projects they are involved in. 

Firstly through involvement in the club projects you are exposed to how "true" and effective teams work. Because all members are volunteers there are no individuals with legitimate authority they can rely on. This also teaches you sound human relations skills as you need to work well with others who are likely to be fairly self sufficient and competent in their own right. You will also learn how to sell as you will need to sell you ideas on how to do things and also to sell your particular point of view on what should be accepted as a legitimate use of your time and what is not.

A Rotary club is run somewhat along similar lines to any company or organisation and if you accept positions in your club you will gain experience in financial control, secretarial duties, directorships and of course as president, a CEO. Even the position of Club sergeant teaches you crowd control and most of all... public speaking. If you think about it all activities involved in Rotary have parallels in your career however Rotarians will usually be a little kinder about helping you overcome your shortcomings than your company or boss will. If you are always late for meetings you may cop a small fine from your club sergeant however if you constantly do that at work and you may well get fired. Which way would you rather learn timeliness.

In Rotary you will be exposed to all kinds of leaders from autocrats to democrats. Learning how deal with a range of individuals in a work type scenario will always be valuable.

Where ever people gather there will be politics so you should (or will) learn and develop a great deal of political savvy as well. All clubs have disputes over issues as simple as where to meet, to as complicated as which types of charity or projects they should support or not. There are always more in need than there are resources available to help. Here you learn how to make hard decisions that really can impact on the lives of others.

Rotary is great training for managers!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

How to Hire the Best Candidate

Well yes... you do all the interviews and effectively ask the "tell me about" questions and kaboom you still get a lousy hire! 

Almost inevitably when interviewing for new staff you end up (before you you make the final decision) with a shortlist of say half a dozen to ten candidates.  

I read in an article on hiring managers recently that had a quote as follows:

"The biggest mistake business owners make is to get the best technical expert and assume they'll make the best manager, Paknis said". (A management consultant apparently)  

Now if you have read any number of my past blog posts you would have seen this assertion, or a similar statement quite a few times. It is a true statement. 

So how to decide. Over my years of conducting management and leadership training I have found that the real cultural, leadership, management or interpersonal skills rise to the surface during the conducting of games or exercises. So why not get your six finalists in and get your training manger in to conduct a couple of games to see how well the individuals fit into whatever role you are looking for. One I would suggest is, "Lost at Sea" ...and if you have the players stacked with a couple of astute employees you can find out about how well your candidates fit your culture and their ability to work well with your existing team. 

All this can be done in a couple of hours and will be time well spent. 

More management articles by Ric

Friday, 18 May 2012

Finding Effective Managers!

Traditionally managers have been appointed based on their superior technical expertise. As I have said before however, often we do nothing more than “lose our best engineer or salesperson and promote someone who turns out to be a lousy manager”.

So the question becomes, how do we go about finding staff to become our next crop of managers… or probably more importantly, our next generation of leaders!?

Obviously competence in the technical aspects of the job are important however perhaps a few other traits can give us a additional hints to find the talent.

Can I suggest the following when looking for leaders / managers.


- those who regularly tell others what they are doing and the results they have achieved on behalf of the company. Yeah I know they can be seen as braggers but better this sort, than the ones who are mumbling about the problems at home or type of mobile they are thinking of buying

- those that seem to be able get their colleagues to help out when things need to get done, the characters that say ‘hey lets all come in on Saturday finish this off and we can go to the pub for lunch together after’

- those who are willing to be in the spotlight… you know… the types that volunteer to plan a company event or activity or that will give presentations to other employees

- those with a good network, they know ‘everybody,’ the sort of person you instinctively go to, to ask… do you know anyone that can get me a left handed widget for my ‘whats-it-thingo’

- those that finish tasks on time without sacrificing quality or wasting resources

- those that seem to make others feel good about themselves, the types that say, ‘he’s a good guy’ or ‘she’s a great help’ and that are comfortable paying compliments to others

- those that can sell the ‘no’ or a different point of view with tact and still maintain relationships by knowing what is common ground and strengthening that, rather than accentuating differences

- those that don’t bad mouth others or complain about workmates, ‘those idiots in financial control, production or the upstarts in the pampered sales team’

- those that solve problems in imaginative ways and through negotiation rather than the ones that come to your office and say, ‘this is a cock up what do we do now’!

- those that listen and show they are listening rather than those that love to just talk.

Well I agree it is not a complete list, however it does give some hints as to the qualities we need in a leader / managers.

More management articles can be found at just follow one of the links management, leadership and career success.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Delegation and Career Success Part 3

To continue....

Responsibility of the Delegator for each level is to follow the delegation approach (referred to in the model’s original form "Leadership Style")

(S1) Telling or directing, characterised by one-way communication in which the delegator defines the task of the person being delegated to and tells them how, when, and where to do it. To gain more commitment and motivation from your employee, then you should of course use a participative style.

(S2) Selling/Coaching for D2 tasks is required as while providing clear direction as to responsibilities, the delegator needs to employ effective two-way communication and emotional support, to get the individual to "buy into decisions that have to be made."

(S3) Participating (high relationship/low task behavior). Here decision-making and task management is shared between the delegator and the person nominated to do the task – the main role of the delegator is to "facilitate and communicate" and to ensure the approach is based on "high support and low direction". Low direction is used because the person being delegated to is competent in the task.

(S4) Style 4 - is referred to in the original model as "The Delegating/Trusting Leader" With a task being delegated to someone whose is both competent and willing the delegator just needs to hand over the task. The problem here is that if the delegator is not trusting of the employee taking in the task he or she will tend to over control the situation and frustrate the person doing the job.

If the manager uses the approaches (S1 to S4 above) and remembers to praise people for doing a ‘good’ job, rather than just correcting them when they fall short, great improvements in delegation practices and performance can be achieved.

Another key to effective delegation is to ensure that the individual you have delegated to understands the overall purpose of the project or task being delegated and where it fits into the overall process or operation. Always provide picture of what a successful outcome or output will look like including measurements to be used regardless of the level of delegation or style being applied.

A final point: Keep The Task or Assignment Delegated!

One of the most common reasons for the delegation process to fail is that the manager takes the work back! Do not do this… as an effective delegator a manager must fix the problems not avoid them by taking back the task.

If you delegate effectively remember you will need to evaluate the improvement (or otherwise) on an ongoing basis and… be patient… as successful change and improvement through delegation can take some time.

ORGLEARN has more management articles

ref: "Situation Leadership II" (Blanchard) is still in my opinion the best base for understanding how to delegate effectively to different individuals. Here is a handy link to his booklist:

If you cannot delegate well, you will never manage (or lead) well!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Delegation and Career Success Part 2

Developing Willing Employees

Effective management requires an ongoing process selecting people that can be trained to take on more stretching tasks. If you are familiar with Blanchard’s Situational Leadership II the method by which you do this will become obvious. By first giving small amounts of authority to complete basic tasks and then by monitoring their progress and making corrections where necessary, is a great way to start.

It is also important to look your group's workload as a whole. The delegation of tasks will affect the whole group and it is wise to find out how work is now allocated and how much time is available for each member to do new, developmental tasks. It's a good idea to involve your entire group in the process. All of us are somewhat motivated by a sense of equity and an equitable distribution of both workload and learning opportunities is essential.

For delegation to meet both work and development goals managers need to:
Delegate assignments that a team member needs to strengthen areas of weakness.
Delegate a variety of activities broaden and add interest to the recipient’s job.
Delegate activities that will, if carried out effectively, lead to advancement of the individual/s being delegated to.

Remember you may need to delegate in a chain effect. What I mean here is A takes over say two or three of your tasks and B takes over two or three of A’s task’s. You will need to keep a watchful eye on both A and B.

The Four Stages of Delegating

The Blanchard Situational Leadership (or Hershey & Blanchard) model is I believe the best approach. Although the model is used as a “Leadership Model” it still provides a great basis for assessing “what and how much” to delegate to employees. The categories they use are often misconstrued as generalisations about an individuals overall competence. It must be remembered that the categories need to be task specific. This means that employees can be at development level 1 (D1) in one task and perhaps D4 in another. I have changed the level descriptions below from the original model to better reflect the delegation discussion.

D1:  Staff member is both unwilling and unable to take responsibility for performing a task.
D2:  Staff member is unable however they are willing to do a job task.  
D3:  Staff member is able however unwilling to perform a task.
D4:  Staff member is willing and fully competent to do what is asked of them.

More on delegation and management at and if no one is delegating and developing you perhaps it's time to dust of your resume.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Delegation and Career Success Part 1

What is exactly is delegation?

Not a silly question, many think they know and don’t. Delegation of a task or activity to someone in our team or department, even though it is a central function of management, is often a greatly misunderstood process. Recently I read a paper by a gentleman with a PhD who stated that delegation was basically the act of “sharing the responsibility for a project’s outcomes”. This is a typical, however incorrect, assumption about delegation.

In a course I facilitated in the past the definition we used was, “delegation is the granting of all or part of your authority to decide or act where you the delegator always retains responsibility for the outcomes”. This delegation definition exposes one of the problems managers have with delegation, as obviously many managers are happy to pass on responsibility, however most them/us want to retain or protect our authority.

The big issue here for many managers I have trained is the issue of having, or developing, the trust in the person to whom they are delegating.

The reasons for delegating are obvious: efficiency, effectiveness, staff training and preparation for succession. The ultimate benefit of delegating is that the delegator, through developing efficient and effective staff will eventually release themselves from their current position so they can move to higher positions. If advancement is a goal it follows that effective delegation is probably the most important competence a manager can develop.

Practical aspects of delegation

Bearing in mind what I have said above the first issue to address is that a manager must be prepared to let go of the desire to undertake the tasks or the implement the actual project him/herself. Secondly, the staff member must be prepared to accept the delegated tasks. Issues of ‘I’m the best at this job’ from the manager’s perspective and ‘why should I do extra’ from the staff member need to be addressed at the outset.

Delegation is not simply asking somebody to perform an activity to help the delegator get his or her work done or finish a project. True and effective delegation requires that the manager explain the purpose of the delegation and conduct the necessary skills assessment or training to ensure the receiver can perform the tasks adequately. The key as I said is to hand over the necessary authority to get what is required done to a fully competent staff member.

The keys to successful delegation are: planning and prioritizing tasks, effective time management, setting of proper agreed deadlines, follow-up at half and three quarter time, giving up favourite tasks particularly after you have been promoted and ensuring the appropriate skills are present in the person being delegated to.

Monday, 13 February 2012