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A rising tide lifts all boats in the new year

Jan 06, 2012

Liza van Wyk

Every year at this time people sit down to write a “to do” list of items they feel will help them improve certain aspects of their life.

We all know New Year resolutions about losing weight or organising the garage may not last more than a few weeks, but it’s possible to start the year with plans that will persist for a full 12 months – or even longer.

Like the often-repeated resolution of an out-of-shape person that 2012 will be different, resolutions for a business go nowhere if they entail recreating reality. Resolutions that push for incremental progress or for simple clarity of thought are the ones that stick.

Indeed, for most businesses, competition is fiercer than ever. Business leaders must be on top of their game in order to survive.

That is why every business leader or manager must ask themselves: What are some points that will help my company or organisation run more smoothly? What can I change, what improvements can be made?

Here are some 2012 resolutions to build on.

When dealing with staff, notice what is right and not just what is wrong and compliment accordingly; demonstrate the company’s values consistently in all that you do; make sure the instructions that you give are clear and detailed otherwise you will be disappointed in the results and it will be your own fault. If you’re a manager act like one else you can’t expect to be respected as one; give people feedback. It’s the only way they will develop.

Set goals together with your team that are beneficial to the company while realistic but a stretch; make sure there are no surprises in your team’s performance reviews. Feedback, good and bad, should be communicated on an ongoing basis and delegate appropriately – remember your job is to manage, not to do.

So, in 2012, the first thing to do is to give your goals a reality check. One of the keys to success is having an objective you want to reach, but to get there, you need to set a series of smaller goals along the way.

Each smaller goal should stretch you a little more and as you figure out ways to reach them, you move yourself forward.

Tune in to your employees. Is yours the kind of workplace where when one person is swamped, another naturally helps carry the load? Or do your employees keep their heads down and do only the tasks that are theirs? Do your employees expect that for the company to win, they have to lose, or do they think a win-win scenario is possible?

Give it up. Although your business may not be sucking the life out of you physically, if you continue to be a control freak, you’ll probably lose the mental sharpness and energy needed to keep your company successful. If your business is growing, don’t be a martyr: delegate.

Admit that you don’t know everything. Your company or business was founded on a good idea. Don’t let the flood of other good ideas that rushed in afterward drown your efforts.

Relive your failures. The beginning of the year offers a clean slate, a chance to put problems behind you. A wiser way of looking at things might be to put any failings of the past year in the middle of the table and let everybody take a long, painful look at them.

Take some short courses. Continuing your education keeps you stimulated and gives you vital business information. When your employees start to think they know more than you do about your business, the first thing they lose is respect for you. Let that not happen to you.

Business leaders should ask each of their employees to submit one idea they have for improving any part of the business. The employees see up close where things are bumpy. If they’re given permission to come forward with their opinions, they can point out all kinds of opportunities that you might miss.

Effective development of managers and executives is one of the key differences between companies that are positioned for growth and those that are setting themselves up for failure.

Unfortunately, some companies neglect leadership development. Some companies have built succession management systems but don’t truly support them.

Here are some resolutions to help build stronger leaders in 2012:

Make a leadership game plan.

Create a plan that identifies potential leaders. Understand what skills, knowledge and competencies your team needs.

Pay attention to derailers. The derailers include impulsiveness, arrogance, self-promotion, risk aversion, defensiveness, imperceptivity, and approval-dependence.

Know the ropes of development. The key is to understand which approaches work for the individual and skills that need to be developed.

Bring in the coach. The manager of a high-potential employee is not always the best coach. Seek out people who may have coaching skills and the competencies your high-potential team member needs. For 2012, the way to improve business and leadership development is to push yourself and others to grow.

Liza van Wyk is CEO of skills development training organisations AstroTech and BizTech

A rising tide lifts all boats in the new year - The New Age Newspaper