3×3 Management : 9 key things every manager should do – Part 1

My journey to today

A while ago I was asked the question: “why have you been so lucky with the teams you’ve had? They all seem to do great things while I struggle to get mine to do the basics”.

I can’t remember exactly what I replied, but I’m guessing that it probably wasn’t particularly insightful.

What I do know is that the question made me think about why some people almost effortlessly achieved great results as a manager while others sweated blood just to be average.

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Managing Business Money – The webinar questions

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

A while back I wrote a blog post about me experiences of recording and delivering a webinar on the subject of “Managing Business Money” for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

This was what could best be described as an interesting experience, one involving trips to London, a live video screen the size of my lounge wall and a real-time link to the technical team in America.

Questions, questions

As part of the webinar participants could submit questions which i did my best to answer on the day.

However, there were a lot of questions and it was difficult to do them all justice in the time allowed, so I’ve written this blog post to answer a selection in more detail.

To simplify things I’ve groups the questions into categories and combined the most similar ones, so please forgive me if you can’t find the exact question that you asked.

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The Cherie Blair Foundation – A webinar experience

Getting started: A happy chance

I first found out about the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women following a chance conversation with a foundation mentor on a train.

CBFW

As a great believer in the power of mentoring, and using it to to develop high performing people and teams over a 40 year career, it seemed natural to explore what the foundation had to offer.

As I now know the Foundation focuses on mentoring as a way of empowering women across the world to take charge of their own futures.

To someone who is, politely speaking, in the later stages of a career this seemed like a great way of paying back some of the help I have received in my professional and personal life.

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Writing a business plan

Let’s get one thing straight at the start: there is no mystery to writing a business plan. If you can describe how your business works to your friends and colleagues, you can write a business plan.

At its simplest a business plan is the story of how you expect you business to operate and make money over a period of time.

This is true whether it is a commercial operation selling goods and services or a social organisation bidding for funds to deliver training and development services.

Yes, you will need to include  financial data, technical details and information about the people who will be involved in the delivery of your proposal but ultimately you are telling a story and that story needs to be easy to read and engaging.

In this blog I will focus on how to write a commercial business plan and rules that will help you make it follow the “easy to read and engaging” principle. For me the first rule is the most important:

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Why saying “No” to your customers can be good for your business

When learning about customer service, most of us discuss and debate the famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi:

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it.

He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

If this is the case then why am I writing about improving your business by saying saying “No” to your customers?

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How to say “No” to your boss

And not get fired…..

Even better, not only not get fired, but make you boss appreciate you even more. For many people this seems wrong. Surely bosses want people who are willing to take stuff on? How can saying “No” make them happy with you?

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Hobbies helping work

Can what you learn in your hobby help you at work? My experience says that it can, even if I did find out the hard way.

In the beginning

I started my career as a trainee laboratory technician with Anglian Water. At the time it seemed like a pretty dead end role, washing test tubes and being the general dogsbody.

With hindsight it was a wonderful starter job which provided me with a really solid understanding of laboratory techniques and water treatment processes which ultimately underpinned a great career.

However, at the time I didn’t see the possibilities and spent more energy fighting the system than actually doing my job.

By contrast away from work my hobby was racing powerful superbikes around various UK racetracks. Initially I was abysmally slow, only the power of my 1200cc Laverda saving me from the humiliation of being lapped.

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Doing well at work: Understanding money and business

Introduction

My name is Bob Windmill and I am the Managing Director of Windmill Insight Solutions Ltd.My passion is helping people and organisations become better at what they want to do. My blog is a way of sharing with you the sorts of projects I am involved in.

Bob WIndmill, MD, Windmill Insight Solutions
Bob Windmill, MD, Windmill Insight Solutions

I also write about how you can help yourself or your organisation become better at what you do.

Of course, what “better” means is an entirely different discussion, but I will write about that on another day.

In today’s topic I will talk about how a business works with money, the key money related terms needed in business and the pitfalls that await business owners and employees that don’t have a sensible grasp of basic business finance.

I picked this topic because money is the lifeblood of every business, even not-for-profits, and it is vital that both business owners and employees understand how it woks and how to avoid the pitfalls that await the financially naive.

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Doing well at work: Being a Go-To Person

Introduction

Bob WIndmill, MD, Windmill Insight Solutions
Bob Windmill, MD, Windmill Insight Solutions

My name is Bob Windmill and I am the Managing Director of Windmill Insight Solutions Ltd.

My passion is helping people and organisations become better at what they want to do.

My blog is a way of sharing with you the sorts of projects I am involved in.

I also write how you can help yourself or your organisation become better at what you do. Of course, what “better” means is an entirely different discussion, but I will write about that on another day.

As individuals we want to do well and be successful at work. Generally we all want to do well at work. Certainly few of us set out to do badly at work.

For those who are ambitious doing well is how you develop and progress professionally while for others its more about being a valued employee who enjoys making a great contribution.

In both cases it’s simply more fun and less stressful to do well than to do badly in your career.

I was able to learn this lesson because of a manager who could see past the rather unhappy individual who got by doing the bare minimum to see someone who could do much better.

If you are interested in that story have a read of my post How I escaped a life of grind.

In this post I will talk  about what makes a Go-To Person, the sort of person who is valued by colleagues and customers alike as the safe pair of hands that can take on fairly well anything and do it well.

So, let’s get started.

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Doing well at work: Intro

bob-cropped.jpg

Introduction

My name is Bob Windmill and I am the Managing Director of Windmill Insight Solutions Ltd.My passion is helping people and organisations become better at what they want to do. My blog is a way of sharing with you the sorts of projects I am involved in.

I also write how you can help yourself or your organisation become better at what you do. Of course, what “better” means is an entirely different discussion, but I will write about that on another day.

Learning from failure

Much of what I will be talking about I learned from the best teacher in the business – Failure.

If you don’t believe that failure is good teacher just have a look at video clip from Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player that has ever lived.

He is quite clear that he became the player he is because he tried and failed, but then bounced back.

Any-one who is or has been job hunting will know this well.  Even at my best I would only get about every third job that I went for.

If I hadn’t decided to re-group and keep trying after the initial disappointments I would probably still be doing smelly laboratory tests for a living.

My point is this – the only time you really fail is when you give up.

Future topics

Below I’ve given a flavour of some of the topics I’ll be writing about:

  • Being a great worker. My thoughts on how you can learn to be the worker that you colleagues, bosses and client value and want to work with. There is no quick fix here but by learning what works and what doesn’t we can become the individual valued by colleagues and clients.
  • T Shaped Skills. How to become the well rounded individual who can step up to a challenge and do well at it. Will everything you try work out? No chance. But each failure gives you the opportunity to learn and do better next time
  • “Better” vs “Perfect”. A discussion on the benefits of improving a product or service incrementally rather than trying to make it  perfect first time. Will all you product and service ideas work? Again – No chance. But each failure will help improve your next idea.
  • Crash and Ignite. Normally the phrase is “crash and Burn” which indicates failure. I my case the crash was literally that; a life threatening crash racing a motorcycle on the Isle of Man. However this lead to a whole new career direction, which I think of as a setback igniting a new opportunity.
  • Work vs Play. I am constantly amazed by the number of people who do tremendous things in their leisure time but then don’t do the same at work. Learn how to recognised leisure skills that can help you at work.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post. If you have thoughts on what I have written so far please leave a comment. Also if you have an idea for a topic for this series let me know and  I’ll be delighted to find a space for it.

Thanks again

Bob windmill