What Managers Must Do To Stay Ahead

Today’s senior managers face a totally new set of challenges related to the fast pace of environmental change. These challenges affect every company, in every industry, and are forcing senior management teams to fundamentally re-examine how they operate.  To stay ahead in this new world, senior managers need to focus on two key aspects.

First, they need to ensure that at the centre of everything they do their customers are put first. This is not a new idea - it has been around for many decades - yet many senior management teams struggle to embed this key principle of real customer service at all levels throughout the company.

This leads to the second key aspect: the need to get the very best out of every employee. Again this is not a new idea, yet in an increasingly knowledge-driven economy the skills and experience of a company’s employees are central to its sustained effectiveness. This is where well-trained managers and supervisors have a key role to play, as how people are managed affects their performance.

Improvements to both of these key areas will only occur if senior managers seek, listen and act on feedback from their customers and from their staff.

In this blog we will focus on the management side of the equation, identifying what needs to be done to turn employee feedback into real business advantages.

Essentially achieving organisational effectiveness boils down to three factors – staff engagement, staff alignment and effective leadership at all levels.

Let us start with engagement.

Most senior managers understand how important employee engagement is to the business. Engaged employees tend to have higher productivity because such employees go “above and beyond” in their work - they contribute and achieve more. In addition they stay longer so reducing the costs of hiring. This can have a significant impact on the “bottom line” as some estimates suggest it the direct and indirect costs of replacing a member of staff can be equivalent of that employee's annual salary!

So how can managers get greater levels of engagement? The answer is to regularly listen and act on feedback. It is no longer enough to gather information on a yearly basis – managers need to introduce more frequent methods of monitoring the “heartbeat” of their team(s).

Whilst engagement is important it is not the sole answer. People can be engaged , enthusiastic and productive but are not delivering the right things! This happens when they are unaware of, or not focused on the company’s strategy. Open and regular communication are required to close the gap and ensure the strategy is shared and understood by all. Only when engaged staffs’ efforts are fully aligned with achieving the company strategy  do you start to  get effective staff operating in a culture of continuous improvement.

The third key to success is turning your managers into leaders. This needs to happen at all levels of the organisation: a top down leadership approach is simply less effective in the modern business world.

This means that all of your managers should see themselves as leaders and be continually looking at how they can improve their performance. Effective management training is a starting point, but they also need to learn how to listen and act on feedback from all those around them.

When all managers are able to ask for and receive feedback at any time, appraise their own performance and know how to work with their team to create new innovations and solve the issues that are holding the business back, then sustained continuous improvement becomes the norm.