What a difference a month makes

From full employment to a level of unemployment unknown in our lifetimes.

All news is bad news – is not good for the mind..

Coping with stress is a skillset that needs to be learned but now essential.

Change Management is now tomorrows number one requirement for most business owners, directors, managers and staff.

Making changes work is not a particular strength that many managers fully understand as most management is about day to day activity.

Strategic changes come about because a business needs to change size and functionality.

Bringing all of this together requires a high level of communication with sharp focus and a clear target to aim at.

With the worlds financial challenges that are bound to impact on all of us – an interim strategy needs to be put in place.

If you feel that now is the time to do nothing as no one is working – then you are mistaken.

Now is the time to assess where you are today and how you can make best use of the resources you already have to be able to cope with tomorrows changes.

Against all the odds, marketing is now more essential than yesterday and your brand can retain a strong presence in a declining competitive arena.

Our job is to help you develop clarity for your future.

The Business of Managing Change

Business Managers who have been trained in the seventies and some later will recognise much of the content of this document. Understanding some of the history brings about an awareness of where we are now and where we could be tomorrow.

Business management is often overcomplicated and to remedy this I will attempt to bring one or several elements into definable focus.

A business is not “human” at the start – it is simply a list of ideas that one or more people believe could generate sufficient profit to make it worthwhile.

This phase of every business is all about Management by Objectives [MBO]

Once the business is established and more than one person is working within the business, or the owner needs to liaise with other businesses and suppliers, the management moves into a second phase of Managing Tasks Through People.[MTTP]

As a business grows it goes through recognisable phases where management styles need to change in emphasis to enable that phase to move into the next. [Centralise or decentralise]{MBO and/or MTTP}

In todays modern world the job of looking after strategy and vision is still often left to a small group of people who are able to meet and decide on the necessities of keeping the business growing without having to be concerned with the impact their decisions might have on the people working for the business. This fact becomes exaggerated when the business runs into financial problems or need to undergo significant change.

The job of looking after the people was at one time delegated to the HR department, and with an ever increasing level of risk management arising as a result of changes in society, this role changed with it to preventing the business from being taken to court for any number of reasons from unfair dismissal to sexual harassment.

It became more and more common for business’s to want to “profile” potential senior managers and a selection of “tests” became available from a number of sources. Some of these were test designed to work out IQ [GTQ, EQ etc] and a range of measurable abilities such as numeracy and special awareness, and others were beginning to look at soft skills, although people were still not convinced these had any real value when choosing a potential candidate. These tests have become the norm today for any job role and it is recognised that hard skills and soft skills make up the requirements for any job role in almost equal parts.

In the later 90’s, management training became an ever expanding business in its own right and many mangers undertook years of intensive skills training to allow them to fully understand many of the basics of people management intertwined with MBO, as they coexist all of the time.

MBO training looked at things that could be measured directly and tested, just as you would a scholar taking an exam. These measurements were then rolled up into tables [Norm tables] that allowed management to assess the depth of knowledge for any one individual against a set of National or even International “norms”.

The soft skills side was led by Thomas International who developed s very simple system that everyone could understand and offered an independent view of any persons working strengths for the way they approached a job role. These measurements could not be used as “quasi tests”, one person against another and are called Ipsitive.

If we now look at a great deal of the training that has ben developed over the years for management, we can see that much of the MBO training falls into the Normative category and the People skills [MTTP] into the Ipsitive. This is why both of these measures have an equal status.

Today we have so many tests available to us that we are in danger of taking the ones that we “LIKE” over the ones that actually offer us the tools to do the jobs we need done. People love to see themselves in a good light and want to share the good with others – we now pander to this ideology and try and call it motivation.

There always has been a distinct gap between management at all levels understanding how a person should be measured in relation to the job that needs doing. Generalisation has often been the name of the game. [Note; the bigger the company the more likely it is that all of this has been overcome for them to survive their sheer numbers]

There was a time when the most senior HR people undertook the HR “Institute training” and followed the guidelines of the “Institute of Psychologists” [ real names excluded]. At this time they looked in depth at Job Evaluation techniques. With the advent of computer-based applications, this has been dropped to “almost zero” with many new managers preferring to make decisions about jobs and people from computer generated reports turned out in massive numbers.

These decisions are compounded by a need to essentially simplify the role of management to measuring performance on a monthly basis for business performance and annual basis for human performance. The end result is that many business owners now measure far too many figures relating to the money side of the business [and call these KPI’s – they are actually KRI’s and do not offer ways to change the way things are done before it is too late], whilst line managers are left to review staff performance annually where nothing ever changes other than some shirt term demotivation of all parties.

If all of this is true in your business today, then a gap exists. One that does not bring business to a halt, just one that determines how efficient that business is going to be.

The UK is now measured in part by its ability to be efficient, set against other countries that offer an apparent efficiency rating much higher than ours. The truth is that other countries far behind the UK in terms or business efficiency, can complete tasks much faster than us based purely on the amount of cheap labour available and their lack of risk management restrictions.

The UK is entering a phase where its ability to bring in cheap labour to try and equalise the difference is caught up with a lack of investment in internal training from senior schools through universities to apprenticeship schemes. As “online” takes over from “hands on “– we are left in no mans land with the choices for our future now dependant on a few “high level” international finance institutions making money before planning in stability.

Whilst this overexaggerates the day to day management of many business’s, it does make sense of why many of those business owners still look to improve efficiency. Time and resources cost money and people are the biggest cost for many. Is it really possible them to gain financial reward from improvement in the management of people?

If the simple facts are:

  • Hard skills can be measured but only have an efficiency rating when measured against competence for that specific job role.
  • Soft skills can be measured individually but only have value when they are used to bring teams together where the mix of skills is relevant to the overall tasks, and understood by every member of the team.
  • Competencies are very relevant to every job role and enable us to fully understand where we are now and where we can get to in the future in order to improve efficiency, whilst at the same time growing the business internally.
  • Performance measurement is not an annual review- it is an ongoing task which brings all of the above together, empowering management and staff to help each other improve specific skills and competencies by sharing strengths within existing teams thus improving motivation for individuals and increasing output.

The business of managing change is all about understanding where you are now and where you need to be and by when. What stands in your way needs to be an opportunity for change not a hurdle or a brick wall. The mindset for change needs to be managed in equal part to the financial modelling to enable change.

You drive a company car. You get it serviced regularly [as long as you can afford it], and you let a trained mechanic look after it. The government requires you to undertake an annual safety review – the MOT – when did you last carry out an MOT on your business?

If you were offered a potential efficiency increase of say 10%- would you look at it seriously. What would this mean for your bottom line in year one – now in year two with no extra costs?

What if you could get more than 10%- when would you decide you could not ignore the opportunity?

You are a risk manager ever day. The cost of an initial fact-find in relation to the above is in your control. Call today and discuss what it is worth to you, then we can both win, one way or another. A phone call only costs pence…

Author: John Shenton. Profile-P[.com]                    Tel: 01202 496269           Mob:07946 577521

The links between individual and team performance based on benchmarking

I have already outlined the first need of 2020 to be staff retention, giving the obvious reasons for this.

I have suggested that the first step on the road to maintaining staffing levels without internal losses to be the act of “benchmarking” and have laid out the basics of the exercise.

We are now able to consider the resulting factors that empower teams to become more and more successful over time giving rise to increased job satisfaction thus ensuring longevity within the staffing across the company overall.

If we are unsure of our present position within the business as far as job satisfaction is concerned then the first step of benchmarking should give us some clues. These will come from the changes that individuals are having to make to their approach to their job roles within a team which will only show up in the softskills profiles provided by “the PROFILE PEOPLE”

This is not strictly 100 percent accurate as some profiling systems do show these changes but most do not. Add to this that the majority of “profile readers” do not understand the value of these changes and you can begin to understand why soft skills management is not always taken seriously.

The profiles carried out by us will highlight areas where individuals within a given team, or even a whole business have to spend time modifying their preferred behaviours.

Why is this important?

Behaviour modification comes about when a person has no option but to adapt to circumstances that are out of their control resulting  in them modifying the way they approach that challenge.  When this happens on a regular basis, that person is moving out of their comfort zone into areas that cause them to try to change who they want to be.

NOTE: Over 80% of teams reviewed have this problem to some degree

Have you ever been forced into a situation at work where management styles cause you to react in ways that are “normal for you”? The obvious example is where time becomes the overriding factor in reaching a conclusion. Your preferred style is to work to a plan that you have worked out for yourself and one which you know will allow you to finish your tasks successfully. If your boss keeps changing this focus for you – how do you feel about the job you are being asked to do?

Having been involved in literally hundreds of team reviews – it has become obvious that the more the individuals within the team are “forced” to modify the way they need to work – the less effective that team becomes at producing high level results.

Conversely when a team operates in harmony – that team is generally seen as a happy team whose performance levels appear above average to others.

This then is the beginning of a much longer journey. There is a warning that must come with this review and that is one of managing positivity over a more negative style of management.

With this comes a responsibility that management needs to be willing to assess themselves first and be willing to create a change movement if found to be necessary. If team harmony appears out of kilter, then attempting to manage individuals out of their functionality will not be the way forward. The team manager must look deeper before jumping to conclusions and team members do not need to be involved at this early stage.

The second stage of the review is to look at the job descriptions.

A job description must be designed to be specific about the use of available skills that allow team members to perform well.

We have all heard about the difference between hard skills and soft skills and the types of measurement that can be applied to gauge the level of NEED within the job functions.

This gives rise to our understanding of competencies and the describable level of competence needed to do a job well.

When we bring these elements together, we begin to more fully understand why one team works well and another struggles.

We also begin to understand that hard skills blended with soft skills and competencies spread across a team can be used more effectively when all members of that team share a complete understanding of working strengths within the team members capabilities.

When I hear someone say that we should not recruit a potential candidate because their soft profile does not meet with a “pre agreed shape” – I worry that the business as a whole might be closing its mind to a bigger picture thus limiting the potential of the business to make the most of all the resources available.

If you feel comfortable that your business is making the most of this information, why not test one team to find out just how well it really is working.

If you are prepared to acknowledge that things could be better – pick a team of about twelve people who do not appear to be on top of their game, all of the time.

Give John Shenton a call and ask for a review project– for management level only.

  1. He will ask you for 12 job descriptions as they are available today without modification.
  2. A simple review of  the individuals performance ratings from their last assessments in the form of 1 to 10 low poor/ to 10 high. Very good.
  3. A review of the team measurements in simple terms – what must they do on a daily monthly basis and how close to they get to any given targets applied.
  4. A soft skills profile to be completed by every team member and the team manager(s).

You will get a report for open discussion with however many managers are involved with this team, that will result in a conclusion about what to do next to improve the performance of the team.

What will this cost your business?

The cost of soft profiles with individual feedback to each team member for this project only could be:

The individual cost for each profile plus the feedback time for each one plus any day rates on sight required to achieve this which will be agreed before the project starts and will include travel and subsistence agreements. Day rates will reflect the complexity of the business overall and take into account expenses.

Management and staff time is something you must take into consideration against any potential for team output improvements. Ask yourselves how you might value performance improvement in measurable terms. No measurement – no improvement – just guesswork?

Just as a thought – if the project were to cost your business £4500, what performance increase would pay for this over what period of time?

When you have the answer – call John on 07946 577521 to discuss step one.

This call will cost you nothing so what have you got to lose?

Call today for an immediate appreciation of the challenges and potential rewards for your business.