MD2MD speaker Jeff Grout spoke to an MD2MD group recently on the linked themes of Leadership and of recruting and retaining the best people.
Previous speakers, especially Wayne Clarke of Best Companies, have explained how ‘My (immediate) manager’ was the single most important influence on the extent to which people feel motivated at work. And Jeff reinforced that message and there was quite a bit of discussion around how to encourage people to give of their best. Looking through my notes following the meeting, I drew out three key themes which I summarise below:
Treat them as a human being; almost as a friend about whom you care. Show a genuine curiosity in them and their lives, including outside work. But don’t fake it. They can tell. And if you don’t have it in you to care about your staff, then you are not going to be a great manager of them.
When talking to them listen carefully to what is actually said. Many of us are too immersed in our own world and as a consequence don’t really listen properly. As Nigel Risner, another MD2MD speaker says “If you are in the room, be IN the room”. In other words pay attention to the person you are talking to, not to the distracting thoughts your mind throws at you.
Consider carefully too what is not being said and invite that into the conversation. You may or may not succeed but with gentle and genuine curiosity, and carefully constructed How and What questions along the lines Gareth Chick recommends in his blog ‘Taming the Beast within” you might.
And if you really want to understand the dynamic, consider how what is being said is being said. There are messages in the precise words used, the way in which those words are spoken and in the accompanying body language which the sensitive manager will pick up, and may even bring into the conversation using phrases such as “You don’t appear very comfortable with that … ”
Finally don’t be afraid to be honest. We sometimes feel we have to guess how to get the best out of our team and we leave them to guess what matters to us. But why? Why not just ask? What matters to you? How can I support you? Which can, of course, be neatly combined with being clear about what you want too. “This is what I need” and “This is what matters to me”.
Bob is a specialist in running high value added service businesses, having run five such businesses as General Manager, Managing Director or Chief Executive. His last employed role was as Chief Executive of a £16M, 200 person family owned business having previously been Chief Executive of an AIM listed company for which he raised £5M funding and which he grew from £4M to £12M in three years through two acquisitions and organic growth, and a corporate PLC subsidiary where he was Managing Director responsible for delivering £10M profit on £45M turnover through 450 staff.
Bob is now following a portfolio career providing entrepreneurial business leaders with mentoring and coaching around business leadership, business growth, merger integration and exit planning.
Core to his portfolio is MD2MD. Having experienced for himself the value of having a strong sounding board of fellow Managing Directors he founded MD2MD in 2004 to provide groups of business leaders with a confidential environment within which they can support and challenge each other to raise their game as leaders and by doing so improve the success of their organisation.More about Bob