Tips and Techniques to Manage Difficult People

Posts Tagged ‘Time management’

How to Be More Productive and Eliminate Time-Wasting Activities by Using the ‘Eisenhower Box’ 

Comments Off on How to Be More Productive and Eliminate Time-Wasting Activities by Using the ‘Eisenhower Box’ 

I like this – anything to maximise the time we have.

Eisenhower had an incredible ability to sustain his productivity not just for weeks or months, but for decades. And for that reason, it is no surprise that his methods for time management, task management, and productivity have been studied by many people.

Source: How to Be More Productive and Eliminate Time-Wasting Activities by Using the ‘Eisenhower Box’ | James Clear

How Not To Waste Your Management Time

No Comments

FocusLet me ask you a simple question; what do you believe a manager’s job is all about? What is it that managers do on a day to day basis?

Now, if you’re a manager, or you probably work for one, then you’d almost certainly be able to list a whole range of actions and activities. They might include: interviewing, solving problems, dealing with customers, planning, report writing, analysing data, dealing with complaints and hopefully, leading and motivating the people who report to them.

Many managers seem to believe that, over and above these activities, the prime function of their job is to identify weaknesses in members of their team, and resolve them. In other words, they relentlessly focus on the negative aspects of an employee’s job. They do this, at worst, by criticising, and reprimanding or, at best, by coaching or training.

Too much focus on the negative

I am aware of managers that spend a great deal of their time exploring an employee’s performance looking for some perceived fault or aspect that could be improved. Parents often focus on the negative aspects of a child’s school report rather than the positive.

Too many managers are spending too much time trying to change people.

They seem to believe that if they train people, tell them what to do or even threaten them with disciplinary action or the sack, then they can get them to change.

The successful manager concentrates on developing the strengths of their team members, not trying to correct their weaknesses.

Sometimes you have to manage around a weakness, but you can’t make people what they’re not.

I’m just not musical

When I was a teenager, my father sent me for piano lessons for about three years. He was determined that I would learn to play the piano. To this day I cannot play a note. I realise now, as an adult, that I am just not musical.

Strange as it may seem, I’m not particularly interested in music. My CD collection consists of about 6 CD’s which I rarely listen to. If I had attended piano lessons for even more years then I’m sure I could have become competent. However, I would never be any good at playing the piano.

Don’t waste your time

It’s a waste of time trying to correct weaknesses that can’t be sorted. Some people just can’t build relationships with customers, others can’t work as fast as you need them to, others can’t write a report to save their life, (and ‘certain other people’ will never be able to play the piano)

Build strengths

Your most productive time as a manager will be spent focussing on strengths and how to develop these further.

If you give people feedback on what they do well; then it is often the case that there is an improvement in what they don’t do so well.

By focussing on the positives, they feel more motivated to improve the negative aspects of their performance.

So there you have it; whether in your business or personal life, focus on the positive aspects of other people, not on the negatives.

Remember: People have one thing in common; they are all different.


Managers, Be Careful How You Spend Your Time

No Comments

Do you remember when you first became a manager? You probably inherited a team of people who came with all sorts ofSuccessful business team problems for you to resolve. It made you feel so important having all these people who needed you to solve their problems large or small.

After all, that was why they promoted you into a manager role because you knew the business, knew the customers and had vast experience of handling problems. I’m sure there were lots of other reasons for giving you the job. However, dealing with problems has always been seen as part of a manager’s job. But don’t you sometimes get a bit fed up of having to solve all these problems?

My first job in management was as a Regional Sales Manager in charge of six Fields Sales Engineers. This was in the days before mobile phones so the guys used to phone me at home in the evenings. At first I would let them phone me anytime because I wanted to be “there for them”. I was their leader and I thought they couldn’t survive without me.

However, when I was getting phone calls just as I was to tuck into some well deserved dinner, changes had to be made. So we agreed on a time window when I could be phoned and that worked okay for a while. However, I started to get sick and tired of these problems eating into my personal life.

It wasn’t the case that the six of them would phone me every night but some would phone more than others, and some would demand more time on the phone.

At that time I didn’t know what to do about it, so it was tolerated – it was just part of the job.

I was eventually promoted to an office-based Sales Managers job and there were even more problems to be dealt with. It wasn’t just the sales guys I had to deal with; it was the people from the finance department, the marketing department, the distribution people and of course – the customers!

I remember when I took my first week’s holiday from this job and thinking before my return to work, ‘My desk will be piled up with problems to be solved, there will be people standing in line at the door of my office waiting for me to solve their problems.’ The funny thing is, there weren’t as many problems as I’d thought there would be.

Solving problems is part of your job as a Manager. Do it well and you’ll have a happy and motivated team. Do it badly or spend too much time dealing with problems then you’ll have exactly the opposite.

Spending quality time with your team, listening, giving feedback and coaching them is a vital part of a manager’s job.  One of the reasons some managers don’t do this well is because they spend too much time solving business problems!

I’m sad to say that some managers like solving business problems. They see it as a major part of their job and it makes them feel important and worthwhile.

However, while that manager is sitting at his desk solving problems, the listening, feedback and coaching isn’t getting done. And if that isn’t getting done, you’re in danger of creating a de-motivated team who take too many sickies, and don’t make a positive contribution to your business.

So we need to look at the whole situation of dealing with problems.

Business problems – people problems 

If you want to be a successful Motivational Manager then you need to minimise your time solving business problems and focus on any people problems you may have with your team.

This article isn’t about time management, so I suggest you get a hold of a book on the subject or attend a training course and take a long hard look at how you spend your time.

Your success as a Motivational Manager will be determined by the amount of time you spend with your team. If you’re faced with too many business problems then I suggest you have a meeting with your boss.

You need to make the case that business problems get in the way of managing your team and resultantly jeopardise your ability to achieve your objectives.

I remember one day, just as I was about to leave the office to spend some time with one of my salespeople making calls on customers. My boss, the Sales Director, stopped me to suggest I join him at a meeting to discuss how we could solve some problems in the administration process.

Now, that would be the easiest thing in the world for me to do; sit in on another meeting and possibly prove to the people there, what a clever chap I was.

However I resisted the temptation to give into my manager’s request and said, ‘My plan is to spend some valuable time with our salesman, John, helping him increase his sales conversion rate so bringing more sales into the business. Are you telling me you don’t want me to do that and attend this meeting?’

There wasn’t much he could say about that other than to suggest I continue with my plan to spend time with John.

I’m not saying that I won every one of these discussions; sometimes I was overruled and made to do what the boss wanted. However, my prime objective as a Motivational Manager was to achieve my outcomes through the efforts of my team. Attending meetings and solving business problems wasn’t going to do that.

Fight hard for the time you spend with your people, that time will determine your success.

A man must be master of his hours and days, not their servant – William Frederick Boo

Enhanced by Zemanta

Don’t Spend Time with Your Employees

No Comments

That is if you want employees who are demotivated and don’t produce results.

Lack of time is one of the main reasons cited by managers for not spending time with their people.Bureau

This is really a bit of a red herring. A manager will say that they don’t have the time to spend with their people mainly because they don’t see the value in it.

Can you imagine a top sports coach saying that he doesn’t have much time to spend with his team? I don’t think that team will win the championship!

Your objective should be to achieve your business goals, targets, outcomes, or whatever is required from you, and make your life easier. If you spend more quality time with your people then that’s what will happen.

All of us can find that bit more time. Successful managers run their own minds; they don’t let anyone else do it for them.

I know the challenges you face particularly with your own manager. I’ve seen me about to leave the office to visit one of my team at another location. My boss stops me and says – ‘I need to talk to you Alan, can you come into my office?’

I’m sure you’ve been in this situation or something similar; your boss is making demands on you which keep you from working with your team.

It’s all about courage; you need to communicate to your manager that what you’re doing is for the good of the team and ultimately the good of the business.

Ask the boss if you can reschedule the meeting. I’m sure you’ve experienced, these “meetings” with the boss and they’re often not about anything too important.

In the situation above I suggested to my boss that we could talk on my hands-free phone as I drove to meet my team member. I let the boss know that this visit was important to the success of the team and would contribute to an increase in sales.

What you’re trying to get across is that if you go into the boss’s office it’s detrimental to the success of the business.

You won’t win them all, but the Motivational Manager never gives up.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Get Someone Else to do Your Work

No Comments

They say that the farther up the management tree you go in any organisation, the less bits of paper you’ll find on a business relaxation - feet upmanager’s desk. The guys at the bottom of the tree are buried in the stuff and the manager has a nice clear desk.

I can remember it being like that for me in a company where I was a manager. My job title was Sales Operations Manager and I was responsible for things like promotional activity, telesales, sales targets, budgets and all the admin functions. My boss, Tom, was the Sales Director.

Clever me

I remember one report I produced for Tom. He asked me to come up with some recommendations for a new sales procedure that he wanted to implement. I spent hours on that report, doing the research, making phone calls and having meetings with colleagues. Eventually I had the masterpiece typed up with all my recommendations on what action we should take; even if I do say so myself, it was an excellent report.

I took it into Tom’s office and he read it through; he asked a few questions and queried some of the detail. Eventually he said – ‘Well done, excellent, I suggest you go ahead and implement this.’

I’m gonna kill him

He went to hand me back my report and I said – ‘You keep that Tom, that’s your copy.’ He grunted something, took the report, screwed it up and threw it in the bin. My immediate inclination was to launch myself across his desk and rip out his windpipe. Luckily I resisted the temptation but, boy did I feel angry!

It was only later, after I’d cooled down and thought about the matter with a bit more logic and less emotion. What did I expect him to do with this piece of paper, fondle it longingly and admire it on his desk? I don’t think so. He’d read the report, he’d come to a decision and decided to move on. Tom knew that the report would be filed on my computer and that there’d be a hard copy stuffed into the bulging filing cabinet beside my desk.

I learned several lessons that day:

1.   Don’t keep so much paper hanging about

2.   Make decisions quickly and move on

3.   Get someone else to do your work!

I’m being flippant about that third part however, as a manager you need to ensure that you’re not doing any tasks that you don’t really need to.

There’s one saying that many managers should pay some attention to – ‘Only do it if only you can do it.’

Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Deal With Procrastinators

No Comments

Guest post from Sara Collins

Procrastinators come in many different forms, but all share one common trait — they’re very frustrating to manage. Fotolia_2530689_S1Whether the source of procrastination is poor time management skills, a lack of confidence, perfectionism, a crippling fear of failure, or simple laziness, these people require extra attention to get the job done. As a manager, you’re tasked with working to discover the reason your employee procrastinates, and finding an effective solution to get them to complete their work in a timely manner.

Set Deadlines

When dealing with an employee who is notorious for procrastinating, you can’t simply give them a project and tell them to hand it in when they’ve finished it. Instead, you must set a deadline for when the completed project must be sitting on your desk. Setting a deadline will help the employee to realize this is something that needs to be completed in a timely manner, not an optional project. Create consequences they will have to face if they can’t manage to get the work done on time.

Establish Benchmarks

For many procrastinators, it’s not enough to know an upcoming deadline is looming over them. No matter how much work the project requires, they’re going to wait until the last possible minute to get started. If you have someone on your team who behaves like this, you’ll need to set little benchmarks to make sure they’re making progress on their work. Check in with them each day to see what they’ve done so far and what they plan to accomplish for the rest of the day. If the employee knows you’re watching them and could stop by at any moment to check the status of their work, this should motivate them to stop procrastinating and start working.

Set Priorities

It’s common for procrastinators to blame not getting their work done due to unexpected roadblocks that came at them last minute. Whether they were busy working on another project at the eleventh hour or not, you can’t trust them to make such decisions regarding their time allocation. Let them know that it’s up to you to decide what’s urgent and what’s not. Ask them to inform you if someone gives them another task, so you can decide if it should take priority or not.

Make Guidelines Clear

If your employee’s procrastination issues are due to their being a perfectionist, you’ll need to set guidelines for the quality and detail level expected. A perfectionist often has a hard time turning work in, because they never feel like it’s good enough. They take endless amounts of time to complete assignments because they’re doing extra work on it that you don’t need and didn’t ask for. To solve this problem, make the guidelines very clear for each assignment you give them. Explain the exact level of detail needed, so they’ll have a clear vision of your expectations. Providing positive feedback on their on-time work may help to mitigate some of their anxiety about its quality.

It can be very difficult for your team to function properly when you’ve got a procrastinator weighing you down. As their leader, it’s up to you to get to the root of the problem and figure out why your employee is constantly dragging their feet to get their work done. It may even help to talk to the person and explain the impact their procrastination has on the entire group as a whole. As most people don’t want to feel like they’re letting the team down, this should help them to get their act together.


Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet. She works to help leaders make smart personal finance decisions, from finding the lowest credit cards rates to strategic investing.

Enhanced by Zemanta

7 Simple Steps to Get More Out of Your Day

No Comments

1. Plan your day the night before. At the end of each day write out all the things you need to do the following day toClock achieve your goals. Pull together all the information you’ll need, phone numbers and relevant paperwork.

2. Prioritize the list. Number each item and do the nasty jobs first. There’s always the temptation to do the easy jobs first. However, think how the nasty jobs hangs over you as you do the easy stuff. Think how good you’ll feel when the nasties are out of the way, and how motivated you’ll feel.

3. Stick to your list. Tick off each item as you go, and don’t be distracted. The temptation is to handle the telephone and e-mails as they come in. The phone is hard to ignore, but you could always pull out the plug and let it go to voice mail. And switch off the email program. Make an agreement with yourself to check for messages every two hours or so.

4. Remember the Three D’s. Do it, Delegate it or Dump it! Handle each piece of paper only once. Either do something about it now, delegate it to someone else or chuck it in the trash. And remember: Only do it if only you can do it.

5. Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination really is the Thief of Time. It’s so easy to put things off till another time or till you’ve had time to think about it. DO IT NOW!

6. Plan your leisure time. Take up activities that need you to be at a certain place at a certain time. Instead of just going to the gym, book a fitness class or an appointment with a personal trainer.

7. Be honest with yourself. Keep asking: ‘Is what I’m doing now getting me to where I want to get to?’ if the answer is ‘No’, change what you’re doing.

Extract from the book, How to Make Sales When You Don’t Like Selling51dAWpJHORL._SL500_AA300_4

Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Spend Time and Get Results

No Comments

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle: sometimes know as the 80/20 rule?

It states that – 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. It also states that 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers. Why then should you spend time on the 80% of your customers that generate only 20% of your business?

It also states that 80% of your profits come from 20% of your products. So why sell 80% of your products that generate only 20% of your profits?

Here is some more information to torture your brain!

80% percent of your results come from 20% of your activities. So why spend 80% of your activity generating only 20% of your results?

That guy Pareto has a lot to answer for. I think the message for us is – we need to take a long hard look at how we spend our time, and spend it on activities that bring results.

Enhanced by Zemanta

To Do or Not to Do

No Comments

If you’re like me, you probably have a ‘to-do’ list of some kind or another; and if not, why not? It might be part of a sophisticated online planning system, or written in a diary or notebook, or even scribbled on the back of an envelope.

However, I am now suggesting that you have a ‘don’t-do’ list, or a ‘stop-doing’ list.

I once had an assistant who one day, proudly showed me her ‘to-do’ list with 54 activities on it! In the time it took her to write this list, she could have completed 75% of the activities.

If you have a huge ‘to-do’ list, sit down and take a closer look at it. Ask yourself if you REALLY need to do everything on that list. Perhaps you have a colleague or a member of your team, or even a boss that you could delegate some of these tasks to? Remember the saying – ‘Only do it if only you can do it’

There may even be activities on your list – and brace yourself – that you don’t really have to do at all!

Here’s another question to ask your self – “Is what I’m doing now, getting me to where I want to get to; is it helping me to achieve my goals?” If the answer is “No,” STOP DOING IT!

Stick to the 80/20 rule

Remember the Pareto Principle, the old 80/20 rule! 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities. This means that the activities you do for 20% of your time, need to be increased if you want to improve your results.

It worked for JK

I once read some background material on J.K. Rowling, the highly successful Harry Potter author. When she was writing her first book, she lived in a small apartment in Edinburgh. By her own admission, she didn’t spend too much time doing the domestic chores; she was much more concerned with getting her book finished and finding a publisher.

Now I’m not suggesting that you work in a dirty or untidy environment, as that can only lead to inefficiency and poor work. However, I am suggesting that you keep very focussed on your goal, targets, ambitions, or whatever it is you call them. And only do what you need to do to achieve them!

Be like a stamp – stick to it till you get to your destination.

If you want to listen to this article or download it to your MP3 player, please click this link.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Productive Managers Focus on Outcomes

No Comments

Are you totally clear about what your outcomes are for 2010?

Whether you call them goals, objectives or targets, these are the factors that you’re ultimately judged on. You’ll find them in your job description or contract and I’m sure your manager will concentrate on them at your next performance review. It’s what you’re paid to do.

Many managers allow themselves to be distracted and diverted from their outcomes. They get involved in all sorts of situations that take their ‘eye off the ball.’

I regularly run a workshop for managers called Managing Your Priorities. At the start of the workshop I ask the managers to draw a map on a large sheet of flip chart paper of all the things they do in their job. They almost inevitably fill that page with all sorts of tasks and activities. More often than not they surprise themselves with what’s on the page.

I then ask them to identify and mark with a large cross, their real priorities, and the outcomes that they’re ultimately judged on. Out of all the tasks and activities on the page they usually cross only five or six priorities and sometimes less. (You might want to try this exercise yourself sometime).

What we do find however is that the priorities that they identify are not allocated the time they deserve on a day to day basis. The managers will often blame their senior manager for many of the tasks which divert them from their priorities which is perfectly fair. However there are many tasks that a manager takes on because:
1.    They don’t like to say “no”
2.    They don’t trust anyone else to do it
3.    They just ‘like’ to do it themselves.

I then spend time in the workshop showing managers how to communicate with their senior manager and their other colleagues in order to minimise the number of tasks that don’t contribute to their outcomes. It’s back again to who runs your mind; is it you or is it somebody else?

Many managers fall into the trap of believing that their manager will understand why they haven’t hit their target or quota. They seem to think that because the senior manager has handed out all sorts of other tasks, then they’ll accept your failure to achieve your target.

Well let me tell you now – they won’t!

The Motivational Manager keeps very focussed on outcomes and doesn’t allow anyone or anything to divert them without good reason.
Tell me what you think.

To listen to this post or download it to you MP3 player; click this link