Communication Management Skills

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Communication Management Skills:

A few tricks to improving your communication skills are:

  • Practice active listening. Try to look the person speaking in the eyes and think only about the words that they are speaking.
  • Speak slowly and ask questions to test whether the listening party understands what is being communicated.
  • When writing, always write a first draft and edit the draft into a final copy after asking whether the purpose of your communication is clear and understandable.
  • When you find yourself caught up in your own thoughts, try to relax and “Watch” the thinker thinking those thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You are greater than your thinking.

Approaches to Success Strategy:

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In a for-profit company, for which competition and profitability are important, your goals will differ from those of a nonprofit or government department. Likewise, objectives for a department or team will have a different scope from objectives for your organization as a whole.
For example, and depending on scope and circumstances, you may want to develop strategies to:
Increase profitability.
Gain more market share.
Increase approval ratings, or boost customer satisfaction.
Complete a project under budget.
To determine your strategy, you must understand fully the internal and external environmental factors that affect you. With that understanding, you can identify your clear advantages and use these to be successful. From there, you can make informed choices and implement your strategy effectively.
So, strategy creation follows a three-stage process:
Analyzing the context in which you’re operating.
Identifying strategic options.
Evaluating and selecting the best options.
We’ll look at this process, and review some useful tools that can help you develop your strategy.
Stage 1: Analyzing Your Context and Environment
In this first stage, you ensure that you fully understand yourself and your environment. Do the following:
Analyze your organization
Firstly, examine your resources, liabilities, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. A SWOT Analysis is a great tool for uncovering what you do well and where you have weaknesses, providing that you use it rigorously. It’s much easier to achieve your objectives when your strategy uses your strengths without exposing your weaknesses.
Also, look at your Core Competencies. These highlight your unique strengths, and help you think about how you can set yourself apart from your competitors.
Analyze your environment
Now you need to examine your current operating environment to predict where things are moving. Are there exciting opportunities that you should pursue? What future scenarios are likely in your industry, and how will these impact the work that you do?
PEST Analysis, Porter’s Diamond, and Porter’s Five Forces are great starting points for analyzing your environment. They show where you have a strong position within the larger environment, and where you may have issues.
As you prepare to create your strategy, make sure that you’re working in a way that’s aligned with changes in your operating environment, rather than working against them. These external factors are often beyond your control, so if you pursue a strategy that requires a change in one of these elements, you may have a long, exhausting, unprofitable battle ahead of you.

Tip:
A TOWS matrix can help you with your internal and external analysis. This framework combines everything you learned in your SWOT Analysis (TOWS is SWOT in reverse), and then applies it to developing a strategy that either maximizes strengths and opportunities, or minimizes weaknesses and threats.

Analyze your customers and stakeholders
Your strategy defines how you’ll win, and winning is typically framed by how well you satisfy your customers. For-profit companies must keep their customers and shareholders happy. Governments, nonprofits, and project teams all have other stakeholders to satisfy as well. Strategy creation must consider these needs.
Identify your clients and stakeholders. What do your clients want? And who are the key stakeholders in your success? A Stakeholder Analysis will help you uncover these needs and preferences.
Also, look at your market in detail. Answer key questions such as “How is our market segmented?”, “What subpopulations can we reach cost-effectively?” and “What is our optimal Marketing Mix?”
Analyze your competitors
In a traditional for-profit company, you must understand how your products compare with competitors’ products, and what your competitors’ competencies are. How easy, or difficult, is it to enter your market? What alternatives do customers have?
Our article on USP Analysis helps you identify ways in which you can compete effectively. You’ll also find many useful tools that can help you understand competitors in our article on Competitive Intelligence .
Non-profits, departmental teams and projects have competitors too. Other projects and teams within the department compete for money and other resources. Therefore, you must prove that you can add value, meet objectives, and contribute to organizational success.
Stage 2: Identifying Strategic Options
In Stage 1, you developed an understanding of how your organization or team fits within the context of the internal and external environments. Now it’s time to think about the different things that you could do to create a clear advantage, and meet your objectives. Here are some fundamental activities that can help you make this decision.
Brainstorm options
Use creativity tools like Brainstorming, Reverse Brainstorming and Starbursting to explore projects that you could run to develop competitive advantage. Guide your brainstorming with reference to the organization’s mission statement, but, depending on your role in the organization, consider how far you should be constrained by this.
Examine opportunities and threats
Your SWOT Analysis identified some of the main opportunities and threats you face. Using this as a starting point, brainstorm additional ways to maximize your opportunities, minimize your threats, or perhaps even turn your threats into opportunities.
Solve problems
A problem-solving approach can also help at this stage. If your problem is that you’re not achieving your goals, ask yourself how you can ensure that you do. (If everyone in your industry finds it hard to deal with a particular problem, then you may gain a competitive edge by dealing with it.)
For example, if you want to increase your customer satisfaction ratings in an industry plagued by poor customer relations, your starting position is “low satisfaction.” Brainstorm why this is the case, and create strategic options that would increase satisfaction. Tools like Root Cause Analysis, the 5 Whys, and Appreciative Inquiry can give you some interesting new perspectives on these problems.
Stage 3: Evaluating and Selecting Strategic Options
The final stage is to evaluate strategic options in detail, and select the ones that you want to pursue.
Evaluate options
By this stage, you’ve probably identified a range of good projects that you could run. You must now evaluate these to choose the best strategic options. Consider every option you’ve identified, but don’t make a final judgment until you’ve completed your assessment.
Start by evaluating each option in the light of the contextual factors you identified in Stage 1. What do these tell you about each option?
Techniques like Risk Analysis, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis and Impact Analysis can help you spot the possible negative consequences of each option, which can be very easy to miss. Make sure that you explore these thoroughly.
Many options will be analyzed on a financial basis. Here, techniques like Cost-Benefit Analysis, Break-Even Analysis , use of Net Present Values (NPVs) and Internal Rates of Return (IRRs), and Decision Trees are helpful.
Grid Analysis is particularly helpful for bringing together financial and non-financial decision criteria. It helps you weight individual decision criteria, and consider subjective features – like team fit and the likelihood of team buy-in – as well as objective, tangible factors like cost and return on investment.
Choose the best way forward
With your evaluation complete, you now must choose the best strategic option or strategic options, making sure that you don’t choose so many options that you spread your resources too thinly.
Check your ideas for consistency with your organization’s Vision, Mission and Values, and update these if necessary. It’s easy to forget about these critical elements during strategic planning, so ensure that what you want to “win” is something that contributes towards the organization’s overall purpose.
Check your assumptions using the Ladder of Inference . This helps you confirm the soundness of the reasoning process used to develop your strategy.

Tip:
There’s a lot of debate and disagreement about the best way of developing a strategy. Don’t be afraid to adapt this approach to your own, specific circumstances!

Implementing Strategy
It’s no good developing a strategy if you don’t implement it successfully, and this is where many people go astray.
See our articles on VMOST Analysis and the Balanced Scorecard for ways of bridging the gap between strategy development and implementation, and our Project Management section for the techniques you’ll need to use to implement strategy successfully.

Key Points
Your strategy tells you how you’ll achieve success, no matter how that success is defined. And whether you’re developing a strategy at the personal, team or organizational level, the process is as important as the outcome.
Identify your unique capabilities, and understand how to use these to your advantage while minimizing threats. The process and tools identified above will help you identify a variety of potential strategies for success, so that you can ultimately choose the one that’s right for you.

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/developing-strategy.htm

Six tips for improving your client relationships.

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1. Be glad your client doesn’t know everything

There’s a famous quote, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” When dealing with clients you might consider clueless, you can be frustrated by their lack of knowledge or you can appreciate the fact that if your clients knew more, you might not have nearly as much work.

2. Communicate clearly, communicate often

Clients often complain about poor communication, and while some clients desire more communication because they’re uncomfortable or anxious, the reality is that service providers frequently do drop the ball in keeping clients informed.

While communication is a nuanced subject and each client relationship is different, erring on the side of overcommunicating is usually better than erring on the side of undercommunicating. Remember: client experience matters. The most successful service providers aren’t just delivering top-notch work product, they’re delivering a superb client experience — something that typically requires clear, consistent communication.

3. Be clear about what you need

The old adage “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed” is particularly relevant when it comes to managing clients. Not sure about scope and need a more detailed specification, for instance? Don’t be shy or lazy: ask for it!

Unfortunately, many service providers shoot themselves in the foot by not asking for what they need up front and instead scrambling every time they need something they don’t have, an obviously more stressful approach that can sour perception of the relationship.

4. Establish up front what you do and don’t do

While clients may dream of finding jack-of-all-trades service providers who can handle all of their needs, chances are you don’t do everything. Some nightmare clients are nightmare clients because they don’t quite understand this.

The distinction between a web designer and a web developer, for instance, may be obvious if you’re a designer or developer, but it may not be to your clients. Because of this, it’s important to establish up front what is it you do and don’t do, and maintain boundaries as necessary to prevent the type of role creep that can be the cause of much frustration.

5. Balance money with sanity

In some, your worst clients may also be your best clients. Example: one of your clients might be a big company that’s disorganized, hard to communicate with and expects you to fill in the blanks, but pays well and doesn’t mind paying more to have you “deal with it.”

If you don’t feel that the money, however, adequately compensates for the lack of organization, poor communication and “you figure it out” approach, you’ll need to consider whether you can really afford to maintain the relationship without a change in the rules of engagement.

6. Don’t be afraid to break up

Why are stories of nightmare clients so common? One reason is that when push comes to shove, many service providers, despite their angst, are unwilling to turn their nightmare clients into nightmare former clients.

Business Problem Solving

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Business Problem Solving:
When you’re solving business problems, it’s all-too-easy easy to skip over important steps in the problem-solving process, meaning that you can miss good solutions, or, worse still, fail to identify the problem correctly in the first place.
One way to prevent this happening is by using the Simplex Process. This powerful step-by-step tool helps you identify and solve problems creatively and effectively. It guides you through each stage of the problem-solving process, from finding the problem to implementing a solution. This helps you ensure that your solutions are creative, robust and well considered.
We’ll now look at each step:
1. Problem Finding
2. Fact-Finding
3. Problem Definition
4. Idea Finding
5. Selection and Evaluation
6. Planning
7. Sell Idea
8. Action

By Source Management Systems Consulting Tagged

Time Management

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Time:
Having time management skills is simply having the ability to recognize and solve time management problems. It is as the old adage says, to never put off for later what can be done right now. You can develop this personal management skill by keeping a calendar and beginning to schedule everything. You heard right, everything. This includes scheduling your free time and the time it takes to get from one event to another.

By Source Management Systems Consulting

Art and Science of Management

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Art and Science of Management:
-Anyone can learn mechanics of good management.
-Perception of CHARISMA is more difficult.
-You need both good mechanics and charisma to succeed.
-Mechanics can be learned but charisma is gained through accomplishment.

By Source Management Systems Consulting

Dealing With a Bad Boss.

bad boss>You’re weary. You’re frustrated. You’re unhappy. You’re demotivated. Your interaction with your boss leaves you cold. He’s a bully, intrusive, controlling, picky or petty. He takes credit for your work, never provides positive feedback and misses each meeting he schedules with you. Or he caves immediately under pressure and fails to support you in accomplishing your job.

He’s a bad boss, bad to the bone. Dealing with a less than effective manager, or just plain bad managers and bad bosses, is a challenge too many employees face. No matter the character of your bad boss, these ideas will help you deal with your bad boss.

Does the Bad Boss Know?

Start your campaign by understanding that your boss may not know he is bad. Just as in situational leadership, the definition of “bad” depends on the employee’s needs, the manager’s skills and the circumstances.

A hands-off manager may not realize that his failure to provide any direction or feedback makes him a bad boss. He may think he’s empowering his staff. A manager who provides too much direction and micromanages may feel insecure and uncertain about his own job. He may not realize his direction is insulting to a competent, secure, self-directed staff member.

Or, maybe the boss lacks training and is so overwhelmed with his job requirements that he can’t provide support for you. Perhaps he has been promoted too quickly or his reporting responsibilities have expanded beyond his reach. In these days of downsizing, responsibilities are often shared by fewer staff members than ever before.

This bad boss may not share your values. The newer generation of workers expect that they can use their vacation time and take action to make work-life balance a priority. Not all bosses share these views. If your values are out of sync with those of your boss, you do have a problem.

Recommended Approach to the Unwitting Bad Boss

Talk to this boss. Tell him what you need from him in term of direction, feedback and support. Be polite and focus on your needs. Telling the boss he’s a bad boss is counterproductive and won’t help you meet your goals.

Ask the manager how you can help him reach his goals. Make sure you listen well and provide the needed assistance.

Seek a mentor from among other managers or more skilled peers, with the full knowledge of your current manager, to enlarge your opportunity for experience.

If you’ve taken these actions, and they haven’t worked, go to your boss’s manager and ask for assistance. Or, you can go to your Human Resources staff first, to rehearse and gain advice. Understand that your current boss may never forgive you, so ensure you have done what you can do with him, before taking your issues up the line.

You may never hear what the boss’s boss or the HR staff did to help solve your bad manager’s behavior. It’s confidential. But, do allow some time to pass for the actions to have their desired impact.

If nothing changes, despite your best efforts, and you think the problem is that they don’t believe you, draw together coworkers who also experience the behavior. Visit the boss’s manager to help him see the size and impact of the behavior.

If you think the problem is that your boss can’t – or won’t – change, ask for a transfer to another department. This recommendation presumes you like your employer and your work.

If a transfer or promotion is unavailable, begin your search for a new job. Fleeing is always an option. You may want to conduct your job search secretly, but under the circumstances, it may be time for you to go.Image

By Source Management Systems Consulting