How To Develop Your Credibility As A Manager

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Hi, welcome to how to develop your personal credibility as a manager. I’m Scott Watson and I’ll be sharing this lesson with you.

The first thing you need to be aware of in terms of developing your credibility is it’s not just about what you know. It’s not just about your technical competence or technical expertise, what you know about a subject, a product, a service or a system. It needs to be partnered with who you are as a person, what you are like to work with, how supportive or encouraging you are, how enabling you are rather than disabling which many of the managers that are in the top one percent are actually disablers of good performance rather than enablers of outstanding performance.

Let’s share a few thoughts about developing personal credibility. Please do prick up your ears and think about how this information really relate to you or could relate to you as you move towards becoming an outstanding manager that don’t just deliver the targets, the goals, the quality and the outcomes but actually helps people want to do it with you through personal choice rather than obligation of working for the manager.

First Things First

You are a manager, whatever level, whether it’s your first time as a manager, whether you’re an established manager, whatever level. You became a manager for some reason. May be it was the opportunity to grow your career, to develop certain skills and credibility even or expand your sphere of influence within an organisation or position yourself for future opportunities either with your existing organisation or another organisation. What do you think is the reason you were chose to be the manager? Why were you successful in achieving that role, being allocated, being awarded that role rather than any other applicant or applicants that applied?

Do you think you know the answer? What is it? Could it be, I was the best person for the job? Could it be, well, I delivered the results that the organisation required of me previously so I was positioned to get the job. Could it be if you’re from an external organisation and you’re joining this organisation as a manager, your CV was fantastic. Whatever the answer you give please bear in mind you may not truly understand or be aware of the reason you were actually chosen by the recruiter or the recruiting panel.

I’ve seen it so many times where managers get appointed to a role and all is fantastic for a couple of weeks or a couple of months and that’s the settle in period but after that things can start to dip a little bit. Encouraging your team can start to take second place over getting the job done, speaking truth to your boss can take a backseat because you think it’s best to keep quiet and just get on with things rather than speak your truth and get things that working as well as they can do. There is a lot of other reasons.

Think of it this way

You were chosen for some reason that you may not understand and this, getting an answer to this question, why were you chosen is one of the first and most important thing you should be doing to develop you personal credibility. You may think you were recruited for one thing or appointed for one specific reason but you may not be aware that they may have recruited you because you have certain experience, a certain track record of delivering excellent results or a track record of having great references that people say yes.

You did get the result but you actually had an atmosphere in your team that encouraged people, enabled people, supported people to do their best. It may be a track record of hitting results. You may have expertise of turning around under-performing teams, you may have expertise and experience of getting good teams to perform brilliantly. You could have a specific competence that is very much in demand but a few people have it. It could be your personality. The personality that you demonstrated during the interview or if it’s the same organisation you’ve been promoted in or want to be promoted in, it may be how you behave and act and communicate and collaborate on a daily basis.

It could be anything. It could be specific knowledge or aspiration that you have as well. Now, one thing to do really early on even if you’ve been in your position for two, three months or even two or three years, it doesn’t matter that ask your manager or whoever recruited you, “Just so I can be clear on my personal development, could you help me understand, what was the main reason you chose me for this role?” Just so I understand for my own personal development could you tell me what was it that got you to choose me over the other applicants? Then go quiet.

Now, if you’re thinking, my goodness this is only the first recommendation that Scott has made and he’s already sounding a little bit cheesy, a little bit touchy-feely, forget it, relax. Managers and recruiters rarely get asked this question but they tend to really appreciate it when they are. You don’t want to go to your management career on guesswork if you want to move towards and eventually be part of the top one percent who consistently perform optimally. You get the teams to perform at only their best consistently. Take out the guesswork, ask the question.

If your manager or the recruiter says, “Well, it was, you demonstrated certain track record of achieving excellent results even during turbulent times within an organisation.” Your next question is, and what did that tell you? What did that say to you as a recruiter? They may come back and say, “Well, there are very few people who can really maintain or improve performance and efficiencies in quality and productivity and keep the team engaged during such turbulence but you appear to have done it and we really like that.”

There is two things you’ve learned. Taking out the guesswork of why you were recruited and also stepping into the recruiter’s bubble to understand and see from their perspective how they perceive you, how they rated you when they were making a decision that could go really well or could go badly wrong. A recruiter’s biggest fear is making a bad hire. That’s the first thing, understand why you were recruited.

The second step is setting clear permissions in the relationship with your boss and with your team. Setting clear permissions. Now this isn’t again touchy-feely. It’s very humane and human in terms of its emotional intelligence. It’s you saying, “Look Mr or Mrs boss, I want to add as much value as I can to you and for my team and for the organisation. In order to do that can we just set some boundaries and some expectations of how we’ll work with each other, how we’ll support each other to really achieve or exceed the targets and achieve the goals that we’ve been set?

Also it’s important Mr or Mrs Boss we’re going to have a crossword eventually. We’re going to disagree on something at some point. I wonder if we could have a chat about how we deal with that.” This would usually get the boss on the receiving end of this looking like rabbit in the headlights. They wonder what the heck is going on here. Has he or she been on a course? What’s happening? Have they read a book? Pretty because people don’t tend to speak to their boss like this. The don’t get that clarity. They don’t get that context in which they can disagree for ten minutes but the relationship is still strong.

Where they can conscientiously object to a recommendation, a decision but then is explored in more detail. This is what will separate you apart from the ninety nine percent of managers who drift and when they do hit the targets it seems to be more by accident than planning. Setting clear expectations with your boss. This could be, if I have a concern about a deadline or a project or an idea on how to improve something, would you be happy for me to share them with you. The answer you’re going to get of course is yes. If you’re sharing a concern it doesn’t mean you won’t turn up with a solution.

It’s important to say, if I have a concern I will bring a solution to you as well but I just want to ensure we collaborate rather than only meet when something’s gone wrong. This is a fantastic way of building trust and we will explore trust in a moment. Another way to set clear permissions in the relationship with your boss is, would you be happy for me to speak my truth to you if there’s something sensitive that is taking place? Often, not always but often, managers don’t speak their truth to the person in power. They just do as the person in authority actually says they should do. They comply on autopilot rather than have a dialogue.

Now this is really important if you are being pushed to deliver multiple projects with conflicting deadlines and very few or adequate resources. Many managers will say, “Yeah I’ll do it, I’ll do it, I’ll do it” and they do lots of bits of everything but what really needs to be delivered in terms of quality of output and the integrity of the information is rarely delivered because the manager is trying to juggle all of these different projects. There will come a time where there’s so much for you to do you reach a threshold in terms of entering a stressful state. Your brain can’t operate effectively or optimally if you’re stressed.

Your team will pick up on it. The emotional climate within the team will change and it will get cooler and then colder if you start becoming stressed on a consistent or regular basis. What it is Mr or Mrs manager, if there are conflicting deadlines, if there’s multiple projects to be delivered, could we have a chat about what needs to be re-prioritised or reallocated just so I can do my best for you.

The important thing to say here is, just so I can do my best for you. It doesn’t come across as a mourner grown or a complaint, it comes across as a very integrity based willingness and desire to contribute to the success of your team, your manager and your organization. Because do remember, if things go badly wrong it will reflect on your manager as well and he or she won’t really appreciate that if or when it happens.

The next step is to build high trust, low maintenance relationships. Build high trust, low maintenance relationships. Do you have people that you really like being around at work that you enjoy working with, either it’s very collaborative, is very supportive, very transparent? I hope you do. Do you also have people that you really don’t enjoy being around? You’ll do anything you can reasonably to avoid being in their presence or being in that meeting with them or even having to listen to them. I know it’s happened with me in years gone by. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Well, it does deserve attention though is building high trust relationships. You going first and basing these high trust relationships on your personal character as well as your technical competence or expertise. Think of it this way. Have you ever worked with someone that is technically competent or even technically excellent but you just couldn’t get along with them?

Their character seems to be a little bit wishy-washy, wasn’t consistent and you just didn’t want them. That is dangerous. On the other side, have you ever worked with someone that was wonderful to be around, really good company, very supportive, very collaborative and made all the right noises but just didn’t deliver on their commitments? They said they’d do something and they didn’t do it. That is just as dangerous.

What needs to be developed to be joining the top one percent of managers is technical competence is a given. Either you currently possess it or you are learning new skills, new competences to develop that in a structured manner. Also it needs to be partnered with if you say you’re going to do something, please do it. Don’t over-commit then under-deliver. Say what you can do reasonably safely and then do it. Or if you find you’ve committed to something whether it’s for your boss, a stakeholder, a member of your team or an external partner or a customer. If you say you can do something, do it but if you can’t let them know as soon as you possibly can.

People tend to be more understanding and forgiving when people break a commitment but tell them early and then put something else in place to keep them on track. Personal character, are you a good person to be around? Do your team members, all, not just some, all, feel supported by you? Do they know that if they come to you for help or assistance you’ll give it to them? Do they know that you’re going to be coaching them in a structured manner every week or so, or every two weeks? Do they have some certainty that you are there and that you have a vested interest in supporting them to enjoy their work as best they can and deliver what your organisation and you are expecting?

If they don’t currently have that, you’re losing credibility. This is really easy to put in place to develop your credibility in terms of, as you’d sit down with your boss and say, “Look boss, if you want me to do something and I think it can’t be achieved in the deadline you’ve allocated I trust you’ll let me speak with you about it so we can reallocate or re-prioritise.” The answer you’ll get is yes. Also with your team, say up front. Dare to be a little bit vulnerable. Look team members, if there maybe things that you expect of me that I’m not currently providing you with.

If that’s the case would you speak to me individually so I can understand? There maybe things that I can deliver but if there’s something that I can and it supports you and it supports me and it supports our team I’d be happy to do so as best I can. Would you be good enough to do that for me? Now, if you say that or announce that to your group you’ll have people staring at you and then just staring at each other thinking my goodness, what’s happening here? Again, as long as you keep your commitments, don’t over-commit and under-deliver, don’t say you can if you can’t, don’t say you will if you won’t.

What you’ll find is people start developing more trust for you as a human being as well as a manager. Bear in mind the human brain keep score. If someone treats us well or a manager catches us doing something right and they say, “Well done, thank you”, our brain keep score. On the other side when that kind of emotional intelligent relationship is missing and we only catch people doing things wrong, they’re going to remember that as well. That’s another thing about developing high trust, low maintenance relationships.

The next step is clarify, clarify, clarify. I repeat that word three times because it is so important. Clarify, clarify, clarify. Let me give you an example. If I say I’m going to get that report to you ASAP, when might you expect it from me? Of course it’s context related. We’ve never met each other at this stage anyway but if it’s an important report and I say I’ll get it to you ASAP, when do you expect it? Do you expect in two minutes time, ten minutes time, two hours time, the end of the day, the end of the week or some other time? Bear in mind ASAP means different things to different people.

Just last week before recording this lesson I presented to more than a hundred and twenty managers in a public sector organisation in the UK. I gave the same example about the report when is ASAP. One person shouted, two minutes time by email. Another person said, “End of the week.” Isn’t that crazy? The lack of clarity around the lazy language or close of play. What is close of play? If you leave the office at three o’clock and I don’t leave till five o’clock, my close of play is two hours after yours. What’s the point of you getting the report if you left the office? This is the thing about clarifying.

Clarify with your boss and stakeholders, relevant stakeholders about what is expected of you. What outputs are expected from you. What targets and goals you are expected to achieve and also clarify the journey as well. What resources you will have at your disposal to do that. What quality expectations. What productivity expectations.

Here is another example. We collaborated with a pharmaceutical company and their productivity target was so high that had to be achieved though. The quality started so far. They hadn’t built in a quality measure. There’s no point being twice as productive if you’re going to have twice as many financially costly errors that waste time, waste money and destroy trust from your customers.

Clarify, clarify, clarify. With your team members individually speak with them and say, “Look, in these next twelve weeks or this coming quarter your goal is to deliver this, this and this.” What that means is and then tell them what it means. What this means is I will be able to support you by doing A, B and C. What this means is you’ll have less time but be expected to improve productivity and maintain quality. Perhaps I can support you with some coaching or training on that on a new system process of any kind. Misunderstandings cause problems. What you say may not be what your team members hear as in the ASAP example.

Also in terms of clarifying minimum performance levels. What’s the absolute minimum that is expected? Don’t do this with your team collectively, speak with them individually because each individual person may have different targets and goals. They may have different levels of competence, skill and experience and expertise.

It’s important that you do this individually. Also when you have agreed what you clarified, when you’ve agreed what’s expected and what’s to be delivered the minimum performance level and the outstanding performance level, write them down. Write them down and you and your colleague actually sign the document. People tend to keep the commitments when something is written down after being agreed. There’s nothing wishy-washy, there’s nothing that could be misunderstood. Clarify, clarify, clarify.

What you can do is invite feedback. Get clarity on what people require of you. A way to do this is individually rather than as a group. Say, “Look, if there were just two things I could do to support you to do an even better job and enjoy the journey what would it be?” If there were just two ways or two things I could do to help you do an even better job and enjoy the journey, what would it be? Then go quiet because this allows your colleague to think about what support they’d really value from you, what they’d really need from you to start moving towards excellent or optimal performance.

The next step is deliver the results. We’ve alluded to this earlier in terms of developing high trust, low maintenance relationships, but deliver the results. Now, you may sometimes have targets, goals imposed upon you by your boss and this is why it’s so important to reflect on the earlier tip of setting permissions in the relationship.

Targets are targets and it’s not negotiating downward so that your target is easy to achieve so you somehow look more successful. It’s about agreeing targets for efficiency, productivity, quality. If you’re in the sales arena it could be not just the number of sales that are made but the quality of those sales which really include how many cancellations, what percentage have cancelled within thirty or sixty days.

If you’re in customer service it could be not just any call centre. It isn’t just how quickly the phone is picked up after three rings as the UK standard is for call centres. It’s what actually happens immediately after the phone is picked up. Is the complaint, the inquiry dealt with first time and resolved there and then or does it somehow come back through the system and take more time and more cost and more pressure to deal with. Hit the numbers but make sure that your numbers are agreed. When you’ve been allocated targets, goals and expectations, share them with your team members.

You can do this collectively as part of a group and then in one to one coaching sessions say, “Look, this is what the group is expected. You’re going to be undertaking this rule, this process on this is done for example and what I’d really like from you are your ideas on how you can hit those numbers or indeed exceed them whilst maintaining quality.” This again ensures there is a collaborative dialogue. It’s not you the manager, the person in authority imposing your will on anyone.

Also because it’s a collaborative discussion, your colleagues will start to own their ideas. They’ll start to own their personal effectiveness and the results that are achieved. Remember, hitting the numbers is a good start but how you can enable your people to actually hit them and have a reasonably enjoyable journey where they’re motivated, engaged and want to go the extra mile because they choose to because you’re becoming a more effective or an even more effective people manager as well as results deliverer.

The next step in developing your personal credibility as a manager is delegating. Delegating tasks, delegating projects or part of projects to your team members. Now often, the massive managers tend not to delegate because it’s a thought of, well if I do it myself I’ll get it right first time. It’ll be done to my exacting standards and I won’t to have to revisit it or make anyone feel bad when I tell them that it’s not what I wanted or expected. Also many managers think, well if I give a member of my team to do they’re going to be over-busy anyway and they may not appreciate me doing this. There’s a balance to be heard.

We do have a separate audio program on how to delegate. Delegation, how to, when to, and why to but for this delegation is not you abdicating. As in here’s a task or project to do, I’ll see you when it’s done. It’s you saying, “Look, Mr or Mrs team member there’s an activity, a task I’d like you to get involved in.” Here’s a template that I’m going to share with you and do emails for the template by the way through the website. This is an activity or a task or project. This is what the outcome is. This is your involvement in it, what I’d like it to be. This is how I’m going to support you and this is how we’re going to achieve this outcome together.

Often team members can feel that if their manager is a little bit standoffish and more task focused than people focused that they may feel that you’re withholding information to retain power. Knowledge is power of course but what you can do with delegation to develop your personal credibility is help someone understand that by delegating to them you’re going to be there supporting them. That you are more than willing to share information. That you are being completely collaborative, completely transparent and that you’ve got their interests at heart as well as your own. Learn how to delegate. You can do that through this website. We’re very happy to share that with you.

Learn how to delegate and get people involved because as well as taking the stress of you, you’ll start moving towards the top one percent of managers by developing this collaborative relationship, by developing a coaching approach to getting people to perform at or near their best on a consistent basis. Also you will develop greater skills and competence across your team.

Your role as a manager isn’t just to manage outcomes, is to get people to be more self-reliant. That can only develop your credibility when you have more time to focus on the few things that really matter whereas every other manager that’s not subscribed here, not a member of this community, you’re doing lots of bits of everything and nothing is going quite right.

The next tip is develop a specific skill or competence that adds value to your organisation. Develop a skill or competence that has value to your organisation. Is ideal if you are one of the first or are indeed the first to develop this competence or skill or expertise because that positions you as the resident expert. You don’t have to know everything about the subject but as long as you genuinely understand how something works, what makes it work and how it can add value to your organisation, that’s a really fantastic way to authentically develop personal credibility.

I used to work many years ago, twenty years ago worked for a bank in the United Kingdom and we worked as part of a seven hundred city contact centre. We had lots of IT come sort of communing doing programming and lots of other really cool things, very expensive cool things. What we decided was some of our team members, some of our staff should really learn how to do this. We had one lady that really took up the challenge and she learned really quickly. She started doing programming that some of the senior consultants of the external consultancy were really surprised at. How did this help?

It positioned her as the in-house expert and then she was called upon to lead projects. She began to get more opportunities to speak at conferences as well as promotions within that specific area of expertise which she actually enjoyed and was really fulfilled by. If a skill, a competence or expertise is rare be out there. Put yourself out there and start to learn it. As long as it can add value to your organisation now or can add potential value to your organisation sometime in the near future. One thing I’ve really seen the top managers do is become competent and confident at public speaking.

Many managers dread public speaking and their biggest fear is it going badly wrong, ultimately hates being rejected. Many managers forget that public speaking could be really easy if you follow a certain system, a certain process and repetition develops skill. I’ve seen many of the top one percent that we’ve worked with become even more credible because they’re out there doing something that everyone else seems to be really uncomfortable with and will avoid at all costs, public speaking.

What skill, competence or expertise could you start to develop to become even more valuable to your organisation and to genuinely and honestly position yourself and develop your personal credibility with your manager, stakeholders and indeed internal and external recruiters? The next tip is if you’re not already registered register on linkedin.com. Linkedin.com is the Facebook equivalent for business uses, for business people and it’s a fantastic way to develop social proof of your competence. It’s free to join. It’s free to register.

What you can do is put your personal profile on LinkedIn, start registering all of your previous roles, where you worked, what job you undertook and how you added value in the organisation and roles that you had previously. You can even start to collect genuine recommendations and endorsements for who you are as a person, as a manager and also for the values that you’ve added to your organisation currently and in the past as well.

It’s a fantastic way to market yourself internally in your current organisation and potentially externally as well. What we found in our twenty years of experience, LinkedIn has not been around for twenty years but what we find when we work with human resources directors and senior recruiters is that they tend to look for a person’s LinkedIn profile to find out more about what they’ve not put on their CV or application form. It’s a great way to position yourself. It’s a great way to connect with people you’ve worked with in the past that may be out to honestly and genuinely recommend you and the value that you’ve added and what you like to work with.

Then if and when you want to go for your next promotion, internal or external from your current organisation. You’re there, you’ve got the recommendation, you don’t start having … If I can put my teeth in you don’t have to start getting recommendations. They are just there already for you to enjoy. I do apologise about that. I should have put my proper teething this morning. These are things that you can do. We’ve had thirty minutes on how to develop your personal credibility as a manager. The tips in here are really good starting points, they’re not the end point.

It would be a shame if you listen to this once even with my error there and then never returned to review the information. This lesson is about developing the muscles so you can start to develop your personal credibility, so you can start to attract more opportunities to grow in your current role and grow outside of your current role as well. To attract more opportunities and start moving towards that top one percent of managers. Please have a think about how this information relates to you, how you can use it and then put a two or three of the tips into practice starting today.

Put reminders in your smartphone, put reminders on your desktop on how to start developing your personal credibility. If you’re working with someone that you trust as a body, they can be your coach. Ask them to keep you accountable so you start using and applying this information in this lesson. I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson and your next lesson will be with you in a few days time, so please ensure that this email address is on your safe recipient or safe sender list and we’ll get the next lesson through to you in a few days time. Until then, enjoy your week, be productive, be focused and be fantastic.

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