5 Tips to lift your management game

 1. Know exactly what it is your role requires of you: – the work that is mission critical; the standards and deadlines you must meet, the level you are to operate at, the boundaries between your role and others' roles.

2. Know the pros and cons of your management style and find out if that is the style your manager and the organisation as a whole, requires.

3. Identify your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the tasks inherent in your role. Identify what you love doing and love to avoid; examine each weakness to determine how you can strengthen your skills and abilities in that area.

4. Develop a personal action plan to address your weak work areas; set goals around each area, identify the steps you need to take to address them and determine the timeframe you will achieve them by.

5. Look at what you are tolerating in your own patch i.e. the work you haven't got around to yet; the work you are avoiding; the work you don't know what to do about – then develop an action plan to clear the backlog. Do whatever needs to be done to eliminate the tolerations. Look at your self management and time management strategies to see how they can be strengthened to minimise common tolerations.

5 Tips to manage your manager

1. Ask directly how they like things done. Determine their preferred meeting times, ways of receiving information, venues for meetings. Ask them what their expectations are of you.

2. Have the big picture, the long term view. Establishing rapport, trust and an easy working relationship takes time and effort from both parties, so stick with it to make it happen.

3. Inform. Never let them get surprises. Keep them fully briefed in the areas you are responsible for.

4. Be honest and open. Managers need t know they can rely on you. You must demonstrate qualities and behaviours that prove your reliability and trustworthiness.

5. Deliver. Do great work. Do so promptly, thoroughly and to a consistently high standard. Find solutions to problems, don't look to your manager for all the answers, and discuss your ideas and recommendations. Ask for guidance if you're not sure of something.

What’s our impact on our work environment?

This came to mind recently who listening to someone in a senior management role describe their work practices as chaotic, as they had no structure to their day; never met deadlines, never returned calls or did what was promised; or processed work in a timely fashion. What was interesting, was the person had no awareness of or concern for how their poor practices impacted on their staff, nor on the overall functioning of their section; and ultimately, on the organisation itself. There was no awareness at all of the bigger picture; no sense of being one cog in a larger organisational wheel; and no sense they had a responsibility to do their bit properly and on time, in order to keep the whole wheel turning. They're not alone in their approach – most workplaces have people like this. It's a good reminder to ask ourselves 'what's my impact on the work environment?' and for good measure, ask those around us the same question so we get a view of ourselves, through a different lens.

Post earthquake innovation abounds in Christchurch NZ

Traditional thinking about appropriate business buildings and their location is rapidly changing in Christchurch NZ. Businesses that may have thought the CBD is the only place to be are finding that life in the suburbs isn't too bad at all. Some have realised that taking their services into the community where their clients are makes more sense than being remote from them; they're asking the big questions about their business/service delivery model and what they simply accepted as the past norm. Some are also looking at remote workers in a different way – questioning why all staff need to be working within a central office, when they have been working perfectly well these past few months, from their homes. There's nothing like a needs-must approach taken in times of chaos to sharpen the senses, question established norms and bring out the innovator within. Necessity is, after all, the mother (yes, and father) of invention. Long may the innovation and creative thoughts continue. Long may the established norms be questioned and challenged.

Can you dance on the head of a pin?

How quickly can you get your mind around the fact that things aren't as they used to be, that our world changes all the time? How quickly can you get into a different gear, when conditions require you to do so? I've chatted to a number of people in different businesses this week and I was struck by the number who knew the recession had hit their business hard last year and the year before, yet carried on as normal. No trimming of the sails, no close attention to income/expenditure, no systems to communicate with their customers. Now, with several huge earthquakes added to the mix and a dramatic loss of customers, damage to operating premises, the whole nine yards, they're looking down the barrel of a complete shut down. It is only a matter of time. What we can take from this sorry picture is the necessity to keep one's head above the sand (not hide under it); to closely monitor income and expenditure; to critique all expenses to determine what is mission critical, good to have and icing on the cake; to keep in communication with customers; to act quickly at the first sign of business difficulties and to keep moving and acting on what needs attention. We all need the capacity to dance on the head of a pin – light footed, flexible, fancy steps, plain steps and speed – and to take lessons with a dance specialist if we can't get into the rhythm by ourselves.

Zoom in, zoom out, says Rosabeth Kanter

In a recent The Harvard Business Review Weekly hot list, Rosabeth Kanter offers a terrific 10 minute video clip on the essential skill of zooming in and out on issues. She describes a simple technique to enable leaders and managers to see both the big and small pictures and not get bogged down in either. It's a great tutorial, do check it out: http://blogs.hbr.org/video/2011/03/zooming-how-effective-leaders.html?cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-weekly_hotlist-_-hotlist040411&referral=00202&utm_source=newsletter_weekly_hotlist&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=hotlist040411

Sue’s Tips for Planning Success


  • Know the differences between strategic plans (a high order long term plan) and action/business plans (annual, tactical plans that convert the strategic intent/goals into reality).
  •  "If you don't know where you are going, any path will do" – have clear long term goals and directions in mind.
  • Conduct strategic planning as frequently as needed to set and reset the direction. Conduct planning annually, in order to develop action/business plans.
  • Planning starts with thinking – so make time to think and plan.
  • Thinking and planning are legitimate business and management practices – use them frequently.
  • Planning is a good time management technique. It needs constant practice and application.
  • Being busy doesn't necessarily mean being productive or achieving results – planning and plans help us be productive and produce results.
  • Documented plans are management tools to provide direction, focus, priorities and a clear picture of outcomes required.
  • A planning cycle is typically tied to the budgeting cycle – so that plans with resource implications can be considered/included.
  • Conduct planning exercises at the same time every year, so it becomes a normal business practice, not a one-off event.
  • Conduct your planning and develop your plans before the end of a year so that work can easily continue in December, January and February – typically, months of slowness and downtime, due to Christmas and holidays.
  • Some symptoms of ‘lack of planning' include time and resource-costly re-work; missed deadlines; reactive, crisis management; constant rush to deadlines; time spent majoring in minors; inconsistent application of policies or practices; stated goals not achieved. Most of these situations can be avoided or minimised with good planning.
  • Follow the Pareto Principle – the 80/20 rule – aim to spend 20% of your time on tasks that will contribute to 80% of the results.
  • Spend your time on the things that really count – start with your time, and not with the task. The task must fit the time in terms of importance.
  • Know the difference between time working ‘on' and ‘in' the business. Time spent planning and developing plans is working ‘on' the business. Working 'in' the business is when you are out on the shop floor, doing the doing, so to speak. © 2011

Sue’s Top Ten List – How to Deal with Difficult People

We spend most of our life at work so getting on well with those we work with and manage is essential, if we want to get the best out of our days. Managers need to create the conditions in the workplace to enable people to be their best but sometimes, difficult situations arise and some staff may appear to be ‘difficult' to work with. Try the following tips to help you deal with difficult people situations.

1. Respond, don't react. This involves taking sufficient time to determine what the issue(s) may be.

2. Establish the facts of the situation(s) i.e. the core problem, not the symptoms of a problem. For example, check to see that the staff member(s) were not set up for failure in the first place (inadequate job orientation, no training, no supervision, poor communications, etc). Look to see what organisationally and personally (as in you, the manager) may have contributed to the situation.

3. Approach the person(s) directly, in a one-on-one meeting.

4. Discuss the situation with the staff member. Listen carefully, using your eyes and your ears. Clarify points raised, so you get the full picture. Don't assume a thing. Find the facts. Discuss the issues fully.

5. Adopt an assertive communication technique (the issue, the impact of the issue, what might be mutually done to resolve the issue) to keep the focus on mutual problem solving and resolution.

6. Seek agreement on the outcome of the discussions and check that your understanding of what has been agreed to and the staff member's understanding of what has been agreed to, is the same.

7. Document the agreement and give a copy of it to all the person(s) involved.

8. Determine, with the staff member, the ways you will monitor the situation at regular intervals i.e. fortnightly, monthly.

9. Monitor the situation regularly and check what progress has been made. Document the outcome of the monitoring processes.

10. Provide feedback to the person(s) involved. Acknowledge and endorse positive outcomes; identify and discuss issues still needing attention. © April 2011


Sue’s Never Fail Simple Action Plan

This can be used to achieve personal or organisational goals.

1. Define the goal(s) you want to achieve.

2. Determine what's required to achieve them.

3. Keep them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed).

4. Document the goals and actions needed to achieve them.

5. Do the doing – write the plan then work the plan!

6. Review progress at regular intervals.

7. Include more actions, as needed, along the way.

8. Celebrate your successes!

9. Repeat steps 1-8.

Goal: (specify here)

Actions needed

Resources Needed



Outcome Needed

(key result area)









































































If you fail to plan, you'll plan to fail


Think it, ink it, do it, review it!