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Brilliant Manager, 3rd Edition by Dr. Nic Peeling

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CHAPTER 6
Organising
your team
M06_PEEL3231_03_SE_C06.indd 119 20/09/2010 14:45
M06_PEEL3231_03_SE_C06.indd 120 20/09/2010 14:45
Organising yourself
T
he principles of time management are well known to most
of us and, if not, there are many good books on the subject.
However well the techniques of good time management
work for you, I would give the following words of warning:
No matter how well you manage your time, you cannot do
everything you want to do.
This means that you must employ techniques to actually reduce
the number of tasks that you do, such as:
delegation;
dropping low-priority tasks.
brilliant
timesaver
Reduce your level of perfectionism on appropriate tasks. I have seen
a number of managers work themselves into the ground because
they had no notion of doing a job well enough. Put bluntly, a lot of
the work you will spend your time doing is not vitally important to
the future of the team. You need to discipline yourself to identify
work that can be done less well and then ruthlessly limit the
amount of time you put into such tasks.
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122 brilliant manager
Before looking at team organisation I will say a few words on the
second item on the list above.
Dropping low-priority tasks
I once conducted an experiment: I was getting buried by the
volume of emails from other parts of my organisation demanding
answers of various kinds. I ignored them all and waited to see
how many people chased me. Approximately 90 per cent never
chased me. Of the remaining 10 per cent I replied as briefly as
possible to about 80 per cent and then dealt diligently with the
remaining 20 per cent I thought important. Result: I dealt with
about 2 per cent diligently.
For fear of incriminating myself further I will not go on to
describe other experiments I conducted into which jobs I found
that I could ignore without getting into trouble. I am not recom-
mending that you copy my somewhat irresponsible behaviour;
the reason for describing these experiments is that I would
suggest you think carefully about
your priorities and consider whether
some of your lower-priority jobs can
be left undone so that you can give
more time to the really important
jobs.
One aspect of identifying which tasks cannot be dropped safely
is to be aware of which tasks your boss is particularly interested
in. Being brutally cynical, it is worth finding out which of the
tasks you do could impact on your boss’ bonus, because you
drop those at your peril!
Management tasks
Before looking at possible ways of organising your team it is
worth reviewing a typical list of the major tasks the average
manager has to do:
some of your lower-
priority jobs can be left
undone
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Organising your team 123
firefighting people queuing up to ask for your help in
resolving problems;
business strategy formulation;
staff management issues (such as staff appraisals and pay
setting);
staff and other resource allocation;
operations management (finance, accommodation and all
the other niff, naff and trivia of running a team);
interfacing with the rest of the organisation (both routine
and special initiatives);
head of state (someone needs to wheel the boss out);
emissary (setting up links to other groups inside and outside
the organisation);
sales person;
negotiator;
schmoozing with customers;
reviewing the outputs of the team.
Controlling the team’s finances
To manage your team effectively you have to organise and
control the finances of your team. There are plenty of training
courses on the basics of finance and it is likely that your organi-
sation can recommend an appropriate one. Likewise there are
plenty of books, and many very useful resources available on
the Internet. You need to understand the concepts that underlie
the ‘balance sheet’ for your team’s activities. Not understanding
the financial status of your team is like flying a fast jet, in fog,
at low level, in the mountains, without instruments – potentially
fatal. Personally I find this aspect of a manager’s job incredibly
boring, but if asked if I mind doing it I would answer ‘not when
you consider the alternative’.
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