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Open or Closed? A Leadership Debate

Open or Closed? A Leadership Debate

Management best practices over the years have encouraged a wide range of approaches for manager-employee interaction. Years ago, managers used a closed-door approach to focus on important projects and priorities. And, God knows, in this world of distractions and multi-tasking mania, we could use a bit more focus these days!

In more recent years, managers have used an open-door approach to encourage employees to share insights and ask questions. The thought, of course, was that an open door would foster better communication. But, at what price?

Research tells us that every time you stop what you’re doing, it takes three times the length of the interruption to return to the level of productivity you were at when interrupted. If managers minimize interruptions, they can complete important projects and priorities—on time and on budget.

What if managers used a screen door approach? The screen door presents an initial barrier that you can see through, but not necessarily walk through. When the screen door approach is used in organizations, it is done in connection with the use of other management activities.

What can the screen door approach do for workplace productivity? 

  1. Prompt a clarification of what is urgent and what is not. Have your team develop the list of what constitutes “urgent.” When something is urgent it means they open your screen door; what is not urgent means they save it (or better yet, solve it on their own).
  2. Encourage employees to save non-urgent topics for a touchbase meeting. Managers should schedule time each week to meet face to face with each direct report, a minimum of 15 minutes.
  3. Demonstrate prioritization and focus, without competing interests.You want to give team members your undivided attention and this can best be done during touchbases. Trusted employees can solve problems and handle situations without your involvement.

 Is your door open or closed? Would you trust employees with a screen door approach? If you’d like more information on skills development for your management team, we’d like to introduce you to the principles of practical management.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com. Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company

Client Stories | Hughes Federal Credit Union

Client Story | Hughes Federal Credit Union

May 1, 2019 – Hughes Federal Credit Union partnered with Center for Practical Management to establish a branch manager development program to help the organization achieve targeted growth goals.

Improving branch performance, member loyalty, employee engagement

“Investing in a management coaching training program was something that we felt our organization needed,” said Robert Swick, President of Hughes Federal Credit Union. “We chose the Center for Practical Management because we wanted a program that would align with our strategic goals for training—to improve branch performance, increase member loyalty, and drive employee engagement. Center for Practical Management’s high success rate working with credit unions, including S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, coaching, accountability, and the ability to measure our success based on metrics, were also factors in our decision. 

“Maintaining a successful sales and service culture is like rolling a boulder up hill. The organization must continually push forward and stay the course to achieve success. I have been asked often what it takes to maintain a successful sales and service culture. My response would be that it is never one thing you do but everything that you do. I’m proud of the training program we’ve put in place and the success of our branch management team,” Swick concluded.

During year one, the Branch Manager Training Program introduced managers to a disciplined approach to coaching and developing employees. Monthly skill development activities were delivered via teleconference and onsite clinics, specifically focused on mastering tracking reports and individual performance critique.

A second-year renewal featured Advanced Branch Manager Training to reinforce critical manager skills of goal-setting, planning and coaching during quarterly onsite training workshops. At completion, all participating branch managers received certification from Center for Practical Management, and gratitude from CEO Robert Swick.

Hughes Federal Credit Union is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, offers 8 full-service branches, and serves over 128,000 members.

Curriculums and training materials are available to clients, license-free in perpetuity, following contracted engagements with Center for Practical Management. Contact us for a no-obligation conversation and pricing proposal. 

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com

Managing Conflict: Leader Lessons

Managing Conflict: Leader Lessons

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Faced with conflicts in a workgroup, managers often try to correct perceptions (and misperceptions) by lecturing team members about who’s right and who’s wrong. Or, they call Human Resources and expect them to resolve the personnel problem.

What if managers were better equipped to resolve conflict? What would that look like?

Writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” For many of us, a large portion of every days is spent at work. In fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime.

Here are five lessons for managers seeking to resolve workplace conflict between team members:

Lesson One – The Problem is . . . Me?
It’s far easier to judge others’ behavior than to look at one’s own. Try asking individuals in the conflict to answer two questions in advance of a face-to-face discussion: a) What is one behavior of which I’m proud when I think about my role in this conflict? b) What is one behavior I wish I hadn’t said/done when I think about my role in this conflict? Coming clean about it can set the stage for a more positive resolution with others.

Lesson Two – Respect Others’ Values
What one team member sees as inefficient communication or disorganized processes—another team member may see as a supportive effort to accommodate everyone’s needs. A manager who asks each team member what motivated his or her reason for behaving a particular way may be able to get to an underlying value that the other team member can appreciate and see in a new light.

Lesson Three – Find Common Ground
Team members can work effectively together without making everyone a buddy. To facilitate this process as a manager, you need to be highly observant. Remind your team members of similarities you’ve seen in their approach to customer issues, in work ethic, in communication styles.

Lesson Four – Tackle Problems Directly
When conflicts arise, managers often want to tamp down the frustrations rather than tackling them head on. But, sometimes exasperation can help groups find solutions. A manager, as third party to a conflict, can facilitate the discussion that leads to a solution. But, not if he/she is hiding in the office and hoping the conflict will go away.

Lesson Five – Let in Joy
Workgroups can develop ease and a closeness that makes work better, richer and more interesting. Acknowledging the hard work of being together 8 or more hours a day opens the door for moments of joy. We just don’t grow in isolation; we grow in relationships.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com

The Art of Team Spirit

The Art of Team Spirit

The best manager I ever had. . .

  • …created a team that could accomplish anything.
  • …led our team by setting an exceptional example.
  • …celebrated our individuality and coached our strengths.

All of these statements have one thing in common: Team. Great managers create an inclusive and productive work culture for their teams.

To create winning team spirit, we recommend managers use the following weekly, monthly and quarterly activities:

  1. Team Touchbases, weekly. These short (15-30 minute) meetings are set for the same day and time each week and allow the team to celebrate successes and discuss challenges. All team members participate and the team leader rotates frequently.
  2. Skill Practice, monthly. At least once a month, the Team Touchbase should include Skill Practice. Learning new things together binds a team. Developing confidence through practice is a tried and tested way to build trusting teams. Creative games, quizzes, demonstrations, etc., help make the learning stick.
  3. Productivity Clinics, quarterly. At least one time per quarter, give your team a challenge: What obstacles keep us from being the fastest, smartest, and best possible team? List these obstacles. Then, select one to creatively brainstorm solutions. Using the multi-voting technique, the team selects one solution and develops a project action plan for accomplishing it. What your team knows and does everyday should not be overlooked just because “you’re the manager.”

Here are a few additional reminders about building a strong team spirit in your organization:

  • Articulate and operate within the company’s core set of values. No amount of team spirit can replace fairness, honesty, and respect for the individual.
  • Provide clear expectations and a sense of purpose. Money motivates, but it doesn’t inspire.
  • Value the contribution of each person on the team. Listen to, acknowledge and celebrate each one who contributes to the whole.
  • Build on strengths. When you put people in a position to utilize their strengths, their weaknesses are minimized.
  • Be willing to tell people to “take a risk today”, rather than “take care today.” Your trust in the people on the team is critical. Few learn from being careful.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com

Client Stories | Georgia’s Own Credit Union

Client Stories | Georgia’s Own Credit Union

March 1, 2018 – Georgia’s Own Credit Union partnered with Center for Practical Management to develop and deploy a performance management training program serving its 2017 strategic goals and initiatives.

Managers as Coaches, Performance Champions

Recognizing the exceptional potential for growth of its managers, Georgia’s Own Credit chose a customized Coaching Program aimed at improving the team’s knowledge, skills and ability to drive individual and team performance. Managers acquired skill development and reinforcement training through five full days training in class sizes of 18-24 managers from varying disciplines and experience.

Inclusions in the year-one engagement were Performance Coaching Workshop for Managers (onsite, classroom), Video-Taped Skill Practice Sessions for Managers (onsite, board rooms), Training Reinforcement Clinics for Managers (teleconferences).

Participant feedback; anonymously submitted

  • “How refreshing to receive training on coaching and developing my best employees, instead of always focusing on conflicts and corrections.” 
  • “We are no doubt better leaders because of you. We have come away with so many great new tools to use in our practices as leaders and coaches.
  • “I discovered fresh ideas each month for how to enhance my own coaching. The success or failure of each employee is all dependent on my engagement in the process and involvement in their development.”
  • “I loved learning from my peers during this workshop. Role playing really opens up communication and lets us hear different coaching styles.”

Renewing 2018, 2019, 2020
Georgia’s Own Credit Union continues to partner with Center for Practical Management for employee development programs including: Relationship Management Workshops for Managers and Sales Teams, and Emerging Leaders Training for participants selected in a competitive application process.

 Georgia’s Own Credit Union is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, offers 23 retail locations, and serves 190,000 members.

Curriculums and training materials are available to clients, license-free in perpetuity, following contracted engagements with Center for Practical Management. Contact us for a no-obligation conversation and pricing proposal. 

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com