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Effective Delegation – Management Skills For Plateau Protection

Let’s face it, these are difficult economic times in the job market and for getting promoted within your organization. Budgets are tight. There are hiring freezes and lay-offs. Advancement within your organization seems a distant possibility. For those that are getting laid off, this is a terrible time.So what are you doing about it?The most important thing in any of these tough circumstances will be to pay attention to your management skills. Among the most important of these will be effective delegation and people management. A serious effort to improve your skills and effectiveness will reduce the chance of losing your ground and increase your chances for advancement. Companies and businesses seek results, now more than ever. Take a close look at what the organizations needs are for their management teams.
Ability to execute. Managers are charged with getting things accomplished through others. Leading and managing a team to execute assignments and projects. This has not changed. Most managers do not focus on their management skill improvement in this critical area.
Team building skills. A manager who excels at building a stronger more capable business unit will always be sought after and rise to the top. A candid assessment of the manager’s interpersonal skills such as communication and relationship building id needed in all situations.
Project management skills. The ability to plan and execute projects and assignments is a core competency. Yet managers spend so little time thinking about how to get better at planning the work they are managing. Putting effective project action plans together, even for basic team assignments, really boosts execution and results.
Managers and leaders can not stand still and continue to assume they have these important areas down pat. That kind of “head in the sand” approach can derail a career for sure. What makes a great manager? Taking action and getting things executed. So, why not take action on paying attention to your own development and focusing on continuous management skill development? This starts with making periodic assessments of your skills and setting new professional development objectives.  Here, are three things any manager can do to set themselves on a positive course.
Take some time to complete a “self-assessment” of your management skills. Being totally candid, what areas are you falling short in related to getting business unit results? Ask yourself, “if I were a senior manager, looking at my progress and the results of my business unit, what constructive suggestions would be made?
Seek feedback from key members of your team or peers in the organization. The strongest managers seek and accept constructive feedback. Everyone has one or more “management blind-spots.” Things you can not see clearly about your-self, your skills and your performance.  Don’t be blind-sided by your blind-spots.  Have the courage and maturity to ask how you can get better.
Learn to delegate effectively. It is a premier skill for top performers. Most managers are really rather average at delegating work effectively, but most think they are good at it. You can learn more about the management skills for effective delegation and improve upon them quickly.  They are at the heart of superior execution and building high-performance business units.
The benefits of paying attention to your professional skills are worth every effort. Upper management will start to see your focus and dedication. The effectiveness of your team’s ability to execute will increase and will be noticed. If you are seeking a new position, the time and effort you can demonstrate you have invested in your own development will separate you from the competition. Your business unit will feel the positive effects of your skill development and be will be motivated to perform at higher levels. If you were hiring someone or considering a manager for advancement, wouldn’t you take notice of the consistent self-development efforts and increase in skill? Of course, you would and that’s why you must take action to get better.

The World’s Best Brand – Yours!

Those of us who make our living in sales and marketing appreciate the value of branding. Whether it is the brand of the products we sell or the company we represent, we know full well that a recognised, consistent, and respected brand will give us a head start. As we march down our career path, we may get to represent a number of different brands along the way, but the one that means the most, the one that never leaves our side, is the most important brand in the world – our very own reputation.

Yet too often, this personal trademark of ours, our very own intellectual property, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. To put it into perspective in my sales training workshops, I generally break the issue of branding into three components – product, company, and salesperson. Let’s start with the product:

Product Brand

When we are selling products and services, we readily accept that the brand plays an enormous part, particularly when quality, reliability, and support for the product is an issue. Knowledge of the supplier and a show of branding support from us tend to build buyer confidence, and can be the catalyst in their purchase decision. So whenever we depend on the reputation of our branded suppliers to lend credibility to our selling effort, particularly to attract a pricing premium, it is almost unforgivable not to become an absolute authority on them and to proudly and confidently present ourselves as their advocate. After all, they have already spent a fortune to do the ‘pull’ marketing for us, so the ‘push’ on our part is comparatively easier.

Company Brand

On the other hand, I regularly work with some of the larger retail buyers. It is no secret that brand status is top of mind for them, too, when they sit down at the negotiating table with their supplier salespeople. Their aim is to sublimely take a position of authority in their negotiations by knowing more about their supplier’s product, operations, and competitors than even the supplier salespeople themselves, then pitting it against the size and reputation of their own retail brand. This makes for an interesting dogfight, and that old expression, ‘it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog’ comes to mind.

For instance, consumer awareness – product brand versus retail brand – can be a significant factor in determining the rules of engagement, and is the reason why so many small retailers gravitate to branded buying groups and franchise chains to leverage their buying power. For example, if we are a multi-national supplier selling into a small local retailer, or a large retailer buying from a fringe supplier, we will have a fair bit of clout.

From the seller side, this is known as a Unique Selling Proposition (‘USP’), a prime reason why the buyer must consider our offer. From the buyer side, this is often referred to as a Unique Buying Position (‘UBP’), a combination of distribution advantages which positions us as a preferred outlet for the suppliers’ products. But beware the negative side – a danger that we rely too much on this big brand ‘clout’ factor. I have detected this indifferent attitude in some of my trainees, where too much is taken for granted as they lean on their market presence to buffer their proposition.

But it’s not all one-way traffic. Being the underdog usually provides a natural stimulus, and many of my small business trainees, manage to use the ‘size versus flexibility’ advantage they usually hold over their ‘big brother’ negotiating partners to gain an edge. It’s a case of dynamics over mass, meaning that even the combination of product and company brand is not necessarily the ‘be all and end all’. Not surprisingly, whether we happen to be the David or the Goliath in this battle, it will inevitably be our ability, dedication, and reputation – our very own personal brand – which must address the balance. All too often, it is the injection of this third brand into the equation which becomes the tie-breaker!

Personal Brand

Despite this, it pains me though, to find that many of my sales trainees don’t give the same attention to the third part of the branding mix – their personal proposition. Even some of the most experienced of them have the odd relapse, failing to keep in mind that, as well playing a team role in promoting their employer’s brand day-by-day, they remain the sole caretaker of their very own personal brand year-by-year.

Yes, our reputation follows us throughout our lives, wherever we go, whatever we do, and with whomever we share it. We owe it to ourselves to relentlessly build, proudly cherish, and selfishly protect this individual brand of ours. We mustn’t overlook the fact too, that our personal stature enjoys the ultimate copyright protection. Nobody else can borrow it or take it from us. There will be times when others will influence it, even try to tarnish it, but in reality, it is we – and only we – who have the choice, and the right, to use or abuse this exclusive trademark of ours.

There is no escaping reality here. Remaining consistent and blemish-free can be a hard call, but it comes with the territory. Our greatest asset as a career salesperson is our reputation, based on how we present ourselves and how we conduct ourselves. There is simply no room for black marks on the report card. They will be noticed, they will be remembered, and over time they will be accumulated.

On the surface, others will acknowledge our politeness, our naturalness, and all those ‘in the moment’ things, but deep down in their subconscious they can’t help but form impressions that will last a lifetime. They will be judging us on critical things like trust and believability, irrespective of the company we now work for, or the brands, products and services we now represent. Even to a stranger, this personal brand of ours will be revealed through our attitude: it is reflected in our presence, our poise, our self-confidence, our manners, our openness, and our enthusiasm… it will shine like a beacon!

So forget the likes of Mercedes, Nike, and Shell – it is this unique personal brand of ours that is truly the priceless one!

About the Author:

In a distinguished career spanning half a century, Keith Rowe has managed the full journey from shop floor to boardroom. Along the way, he has headed the Australian sales and marketing operations for three of the world’s largest Consumer Electronics manufacturers – Toshiba, Sanyo and Sharp.