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Brilliant Manager, 3rd Edition by Dr. Nic Peeling

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CHAPTER 10
Management
master-class
M10_PEEL3231_03_SE_C10.indd 187 20/09/2010 14:44
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T
-his chapter contains the most probing questions about
management I have ever been asked. It will give you
the final touches you need to set you well on the way to
becoming a brilliant manager.
Is project management the same as team
management?
I think the simple answer is not really team management and
project management are radically different. An outstanding
project manager is not guaranteed to make a good team
manager, and vice versa.
So what are the big differences between a brilliant project
manager and a brilliant team manager?
Project managers do not have to be strong on strategy.
The project objectives provide the target that the project
manager must lead their team to achieve.
Many brilliant project managers have dictatorial leadership
styles. Few brilliant team managers use a dictatorial
approach.
Project managers must have an eye for detail. When a
project manager transfers to team management this can
easily lead to excessive micro-management.
Project managers build team cultures that are time limited.
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190 brilliant manager
A team manager needs to build a long-lived, less single-
minded culture.
Project managers must have an innate understanding of
scheduling issues. This is not as essential in a team manager.
Good project managers can get away with acting as if the
end justifies the means, whereas this would undermine the
integrity of a team manager.
Project managers will be forgiven for being self-, or project-
centred, whereas a team manager needs to build long-term
relationships with people outside the team.
Brilliant project managers are good at task allocation, but
seldom delegate their own duties. Team managers must be
good delegators.
How do you go about turning round a failing team?
This is one of the most extreme, and hence exciting, situations a
manager can find themselves in.
The team must feel you know exactly what has to be done and
what part each of them must play.
The five key steps to turning round a failing team are these.
1 Understand the terms of reference that your superiors have
imposed on you. How much time do you have? What is the
minimum that would be considered a successful turnaround?
2 Understand the team’s problems . . . fast!
3 Decide if the team can be saved.
4 Institute emergency actions.
5 Create and implement a recovery strategy, and initial plan.
I could tell you a lot of sad stories about people who didn’t do
step 1 properly. It is dreadful to think you have turned a team
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Management master-class 191
around, or to be well on the way to success, only to find that your
superiors disagree and pull the plug. Step 1 will help you avoid
snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
There are two aspects to step 2. The first is to find out whose
opinions you can trust and then listen to them. If you ask a lot
of people who they trust you will find that a few names keep
being mentioned . . . trust them. The second thing you must do
is understand the finances of the team. The accounts may well
be in a mess, but you must find out the true financial underpin-
nings of the team.
Step 3 is often missed out – as you have been brought in to turn
the team around, you need to try. It is however your duty to
disband the team if that is the best all-round solution.
The most common emergency action is to downsize the team as
this is the fastest way to improve the finances. Step 4 can be tricky,
but you should find that things improve rapidly – morale will lift
as the remaining staff will see themselves as survivors and will
start to believe that the problem has been brought under control.
To use a medical analogy, if step 4 involved stabilising the
patient, step 5 is about establishing a course of treatment that
will lead to the patient’s full recovery. Every recovery strategy is
different, but the amount of work you need to put into it is the
same you will almost certainly have to ask for heroic efforts
from your team and you must set the example. The good news
here is that it’s an ideal opportunity to use your leadership skills
to set a really positive tone for the future.
brilliant
impact
Set your team an achievable but challenging first target, so they quickly see
themselves (and you) as winners, not losers.
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