1. Operations Manager

    March 28, 2012 by christine

    WHEN A STRENGTH BECOMES A WEAKNESS

    A strong leader with a drive for delivering a quality service, this manager realised he had to modify his direct approach if he wanted to resolve performance problems quickly. As a field manager he was responsible for ensuring his team of engineers responded in a timely and efficient manner to client problems. A failure at his level impacted the organisation’s KPIs. However, his commitment to ‘getting it right’ meant he resorted to command and control, which upset both suppliers and staff. His strength was his passion for doing a job well and seeing it through to the end, however, this could also trip him up when he felt frustrated by lack of progress.

    The team leader wanted time to step back from the pressure of the job to examine his behaviour and evolve a more effective way of influencing his colleagues. We reviewed past situations so that he could see the pattern which led to his behaviour and what it might be like to be on the receiving end. He could see there was a point where he needed to step back and recognize I can’t solve this problem and I need to pass it on to someone who can. He needed to let go of the issue before he got too wrapped up in it and lost perspective.

    Over the next few months he practised biting his lip, while recognizing his tendency to get cross, frustrated and then shout. It was hard going because he just wanted to do a great job. But he also came to see there was a cut off point – he could either let it go or escalate it.

    By the end of the programme he reported feeling less in the thick of things and more able to consider consequences in advance, which meant he now avoided knee jerk reactions. He also felt calmer and more considered, which subsequently enabled him to make better decisions. There are many ways to gain cooperation and this team leader had started to explore more productive ways of influencing others.


  2. Field Services Operations Manager

    by christine

    FIRST LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP

    After 12 months in post, managing a team of engineers throughout the country wasn’t getting any easier. Having been promoted from within the company this team leader hadn’t yet stepped into a leadership role. He felt he had a lot to offer but currently he was struggling to do a good job.

    He felt overwhelmed by the demands of his team and didn’t know which tasks he should attend to first. Additionally, he didn’t feel comfortable directing the team or holding them accountable for the quality of their work. He wasn’t enjoying his job anymore and his family resented him working evenings and weekends.

    It’s not unusual for managers to reach senior positions without learning to leverage their time. So this is where we started: developing simple yet effective steps for managing time. We began by identifying the important activities which made up his role over a 12 month period, then looked at how much time he needed to spend on each, if he was to achieve his objectives. From there he could define what he had to do each quarter, each month and then weekly. The next step was to learn how to use a daily ‘to do’ list, keeping it realistic and flexible because something unexpected would always come up.

    Once the system is in place, it is self-discipline that keeps it working. Sticking to this process wasn’t easy but, with time, the team leader got to grips with it and started to notice the benefits – less stress, better sleep, fewer evenings and weekends spent catching up with work, and more time for the family.

    Managing the team was more of a challenge, especially the ‘stronger, more vocal characters’. However, with the right tools and practice, delegation started to get easier. Using the Will/Skill matrix he learned how to select the right person for the task, and how to brief them and provide clarity on what was expected, by when and what the output should look like. Also, he found that properly preparing for meetings led to successful outcomes, which in turn helped build both his capability and confidence. He began to feel more comfortable about giving directions and having difficult conversations, which previously he would have avoided.

    His team began to have confidence in his leadership. They noticed he was following through on decisions and was giving more attention to handling their queries and requests. The team decided to set aside a day each week to deal with people issues and the team leader made time to meet with the engineers one-to-one more regularly. He also learned to be less worried about keeping people happy and focused instead on fostering their effectiveness.


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  • Your objectives for the next 12-24 months
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