Some final thoughts on how you can improve your management style, and thus your entire business.
I asked you to look at the messages you send to your members and staff. Are you running around stressed out all day long, handling one crisis after another, plugging holes and fighting fires? If so, you’re not really a manager—you’re a crisis-intervener, at best. (Not bad, but not effective. You probably ought to be a social worker.)
Do you walk into your business every day waiting for the first shoe to drop? Or do you have a plan and work that plan, obviously allowing for occasional interruptions? Are you a “mommy” or “daddy” manager, to whom people bring work problems, as though it’s your job to solve them? (Perhaps you enjoy that. If so, you ought to be a psychiatrist.)
Do you work every day in your business, or do you work on your business? If it’s the former, you will burn out eventually, because you’re managing from reaction to circumstance, not managing from vision.
In a previous column (IDEA Fitness Manager, March 2002, page 15), I asked you to do “The Three-Page Drill.” In it, you were to write down the things you like to do; the things you don’t like to do; the things you like and do well; the things you like and don’t do well; the things you don’t like and do well; and the things you don’t like and don’t do well. How many of you completed it? If you didn’t, you probably don’t know your “management patternings.”
I also asked you to look at whether or not you have systems in your workplace. Simply put, I was trying to determine if your staff could manage your business or your department without you. If they can, you’re a good manager. If they can’t, you’re a “doer” not a manager.
I also recommended that you seize opportunities, not problems; that you learn to manage yourself first; that you take a serious look at the impact you have on people and situations; and that good management is not about you, it’s about everybody and everything around you. (If you can’t get that one, enroll in a self-awareness course now!)
So, let’s now conclude this column by looking at a few tools that can help you master the management of those everyday situations that challenge all of us.
Borrowing from the work of Bonstetter, Suiter and Widrick (The Universal Language DISC, Target Training International, Ltd, 1993), “You meet and interact with people on a daily basis. Every interaction will either increase or decrease your credibility with that person. If employees don’t like you, they won’t work hard for you! The way others respond to you is a direct reflection of how you are treating them.”
William Moulton Marston, noted behaviorist and author of Emotions of Normal People, said that every human being exhibits four behavioral factors in varying degrees of intensity:
D = Dominance and Challenge: How you respond to problems and challenges.
I = Influence and Contacts: How you influence others to your point of view.
S = Steadiness and Consistency: How you respond to the pace of the environment.
C = Compliance and Constraints: How you respond to other people’s rules and procedures.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A HIGH D
High Ds need to direct; are usually clear and specific in their communications; are extroverted; and are motivated—and even driven—by challenge. If they are not challenged, they get bored. They have a strong desire to be at the top of the heap. They are usually risk-takers, and can juggle many balls at once. They expect you will be able to do the same, and can become impatient if you can’t. They are results-oriented and highly competitive. In conflict, they will fight back.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A HIGH I
High Is are emotional, extroverted and people-oriented. They need to interact, trust others and be liked. They are usually optimistic and are quick decision-makers. They are not great goal-setters, are somewhat disorganized and are only moderate risk-takers. In conflict, they will withdraw.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A HIGH S
High Ss are unemotional, patient, loyal, introverted, slow decision-makers, tolerant and need to serve. They look at the long term and work at a relaxed pace. They don’t take a lot of risks and their goals are usually short term. They like systems and do not like change. They will tolerate conflict.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A HIGH C
High Cs need procedures and work “by the book.” They are perfectionists, very precise, detail-oriented, introverted, and need proof and evidence. They set safe, low-risk goals. They are questioners, and can at times be very critical. Avoidance is their conflict response.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Where do you fit in this scheme? What characteristics do you see in yourself? What traits do you see in those you manage? If you don’t know yourself (and how people perceive you), it will be very difficult for you to manage effectively. If you do know who you are, the world of management will open its doors a bit wider for you!
John Thurman, mentor to Martin Luther King, once said of listening, “You have to listen in such a way that you go deep down inside yourself and come up inside the person speaking.” In other words, listen with no agenda.
Most of us listen with a waiting-to-talk attitude. Consequently, we frequently do not hear and comprehend what the other person is saying. We are busy analyzing and judging the words out of the other person’s mouth, and getting ready to tell him what we think. Not a very effective listening strategy for a good manager of people! Unfortunately, most managers think the world is waiting for them to talk, to solve problems, to tell others how it needs to be done or what needs to happen.
If you can train yourself to listen as though the other person’s words were a great meal that you want to slowly savor and digest, you will take a giant step towards management mastery. You will be liked. And remember, people work for people they like! (Interestingly enough, you will not have to struggle at being liked—it will happen automatically if you are a good listener.)
You can take simple steps to set up your organization for more effective management. The following should help you to get started.
Since most facilities organize around marketing and sales, fitness, operations, facilities and administration, using checklists for routine procedures is wise. On the checklist, put regularly performed tasks, areas or things to be checked and so forth, with a place for the person going through the checklist to sign off and a place for the manager to sign off after reviewing it.
SALES AND MARKETING SYSTEMS
Include target lists, goals, procedures and feedback mechanisms in all of your sales and marketing systems. You should also have a “tracking system” for people who respond. This way, you can fine-tune your advertising and marketing to be most productive and cost-effective.
Also, establish lists of priorities for all aspects of management—in an A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 system, with “A” or “1” representing a task that is of greater priority than a task further down the list. By listing priorities, time management becomes much more achievable. Most managers tend to take things on as they happen, rather than planning what needs to happen.
Put in place explicit, written and documented systems for all departments, but especially for reception, sales and marketing, fitness, child care and maintenance. Systems allow understanding among employees—understanding of what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and the measures for success of every task. Systems also show professionalism in an organization, and companies with systems tend to attract, and hold, better employees. Systems allow more people to do more jobs, and thus management becomes a simpler, easier and more rewarding enterprise. Lack of systems makes management a nightmare!
Keep job descriptions and agreements on file for every job in the company. Present a list of tasks along with success-failure parameters and appropriate dress and conduct. Include on the agreement a place for the employee to sign off, with a space also for the manager’s witness signature. This creates the possibility for objective performance review at periodic intervals. Not having job descriptions makes for subjective appraisal, and may even put you in a legal bind in the event of employee termination.
Finally, a simple “open-door” policy cures a lot of ills for a manager. Your door should be open except when it needs to be closed (private meeting, deadline work that must be done uninterrupted, or other high-priority work that demands timely privacy). If your door is frequently shut, the message you are giving your employees and your members is that you’re not available. Managers who are not available are not respected—nor are they likely to become leaders.
It’s you who has the solutions to management development, growth and eventually, mastery. There is no quick fix, nor set technique, nor magic formula that will get you to the hallowed ground of management excellence. It’s just a combination of steady work, consistent attitude and composure, and total commitment to your vision that will turn the tide for you. Go to it! n