Successful Managers: The Winning Habits!


To better understand what would make you a successful manager in 2015, you first need to ask “What Challenges do i face?”…A lot! I am sure.

Perhaps a more pertinent question would be “What are the most critical challenges that i face…

i. At the workplace?

ii. Within my Team?

iii. Across Key Departments?

iv. With my seniors?

And the list goes on….

It’s no surprise that in today’s work environment with its fast pace and increasing volatility, many challenges demand a manager’s attention…simultaneously!!

So much so that most managers’ dread the Monday mornings, when work seems like an untamed beast! A study published by the American Healthcare Foundation voiced this concern. According to the study, the stress of returning to work on Monday could trigger a dangerous increase in blood pressure. Medical records showed that 20% more heart attacks occurred on Mondays as compared to other weekdays!

So how do we as managers prepare ourselves to cope up with stressful situations better and emerge as winners? The answer certainly is not a simple one…

The Good news is that the Beast, can indeed, be tamed with adequate planning and a keen sense for Goals in the long term and “small but important wins” in the short term!

If you are a manager in 2015 or will be in the near future, and have probably nodded your head in agreement till now, welcome aboard!!

Here is a list of my “Super 6 Winning Habits for 2015”and beyond…

1. Understand and Share Department’s Objectives

“Successful people are backed by successful teams”- The same holds true for managers…

Managers are successful when teams succeed and function like a well oiled machine. For this to materialize, a common perspective needs to be communicated and built across the department.

Successful managers are masters at communicating and sharing the Department’s objectives with all team members!

It also has the added advantage of moving the team up to speed with the managers’ expectation. It’s like a car on automatic transmission, as the leader accelerates the team shifts to higher gears automatically.

Once you as a manager understand the key deliverables of your department, the next step to being successful is enrolling team members. People respond to being given responsibility.

Successful managers assign individual responsibilities to each and every team member creating a balance within the team. They are keenly mindful of the talent pools and “activate talent” by mapping tasks to individual competencies.

2. Conduct Regular Team Reviews to ensure Objectivity

Once clear goals are laid out for the department and mapped with the deliverables of the team, the next step is to work towards measuring the same.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.

Regular team reviews bring objectivity to everyday working.Good managers help team members with course correction during these reviews and help steer the team to become efficient and clearer in decision making.

Successful managers understand this aspect and hold team and individual reviews.Another important approach is holding individual reviews with all team members to understand their progress and ensure objectivity. This lays out a framework for holding the team members accountable.

3. Communicate regularly by providing real time Feedback 4

“Good managers are good communicators, successful managers are excellent communicators”

Effective communication is fundamental to a strong management skillset. Successful managers provide ample feedback to their teams, which in turn, helps them into “tuning in” with the leader’s expectations.

Successful managers also understand that communication is a two way process. They acknowledge that it’s not only important to speak clearly but also to be heard and understood.

We may not realize, but unseen communication blunders not only hurt leaders and teamwork, but also cost companies millions of dollars in product recalls and press justifications!!

A case in point is the 2003 launch of a new curry sauce by British Food Company called Sharwood. Their new sauce named “Bundh” was targeted at a Punjabi Clientele, which was visibly embarrassed to report that the new product sounded like the Punjabi word for “backside/ bottom”!!

4. Conflict Resolution

Successful managers understand why conflicts happen and recognize them as important milestones to arrive at business solutions. It may come as a surprise, but teams which achieve breakthroughs are in a perpetual state of managing conflicts!

Successful managers have important attitudes which make them exceptional at resolving conflicts. In fact, most successful managers are “go-to persons” for conflict resolution not only within the team but across the organization.

So why are they so good at resolving conflicts?

1. Successful managers understand the employees’ needs.

2. Successful managers acknowledge the conflict and assess the situation

3. Successful managers engage in a collaborative approach thereby changing the direction of the conflict by being a good mediator

4. Successful managers understand the power dynamics in a conflict situation

5. Successful managers “attack” the conflict by hunting for “win-win” or workable solutions. They resist trying to arrive for a perfect state of agreement.

5. Encourage Creativity 5

Hold on! We thought successful management was all about objective goals, timely planning and effective execution. Where does creativity fit in?

Earlier, Creativity was considered to be too elusive and dreamy to be managed on a day to day basis. It also has to do with the fact that, creativity also seems difficult to measure in terms of tangible goals which can result in immediate payoffs.

However, today, all that is changing with the innovation – led economy. Successful managers identify the right minds in their teams to foster creativity. They are aware of the power of creative ideas which, can result in breakthrough projects. To trigger the same, successful managers regularly encourage teams to adopt unconventional methods to approach business challenges.

6. Understand and Measure KPI ( Key Performance Indicators)

Successful managers measure their environment in terms of KPIs.However, before putting KPIs in place; it is prudent to understand the role of your department in the overall organizational strategy. They are the essential metrics that enable you to track your performance every step of the journey towards your goal, course-correcting and navigating your way to success.

Successful managers are adept at devising KPIs around things that matter and tracking the performance of those KPIs religiously.

So what are the KPIs across the KBAs (Key Business Areas)? , A simple list (not exhaustive but the tip of the iceberg…) which can keep your business on the saner side:-

1. Your Customers

a) Likeability- How Likely or probable is it for your customers to refer your product/service?

b) Profitability- while you work endlessly to attract and retain customers, how much are your customers working for your business? I.e. how much profit are your customers bringing in?

c) Loyalty- how do you fare on retaining customers who would want to come back for more?

d) Conversion – How many new customers are coming into your fold? What the new business generation looks like?

2. Your Business

a) Return on Investment (ROI) – Revenue generated by investing money into a particular aspect of the business, in comparison to the cost involved for making that investment. It also helps you in making an informed decision on whether to make that investment in the first place or not?

b) Net Profit – How healthy is your bottom-line? In other words, Income minus expenses

c) Conversion to Cash – How long does it take for money invested in operations to come back as increase in revenue generated? Japneet Singh

d) Margins – Yes, the omnipresent margin terms, Gross margins / Net margins / Operating Profit Margins, all an indicator of the financial health of the company’s operations.

3. Your Employees

a) Goodwill Score – How likely are your employees to refer you as an employer to work for?

b) Engagement Score – How engaged are your employees and how is this helping in reaching overall business goals?

c) Human Capital – How much revenue contribution results from your employees in comparison to the cost incurred on them? A high HC means substantial financial value is contributed by individual members.

d) 360 Feedback – How anybody sees everybody, how people rate peers, and superiors?

There is no straight answer to when and how managers find success. As a manager, you have the opportunity to mentor, supervise, motivate and lead…it’s a path laden with uncertainty, but it sure promises to be one hell of a ride!

Wish you a successful career in 2015!

Contributed by Japneet Singh ( Class of 2005IBS GURGAON )

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