Having teenage children is a great way to get a new perspective on management issues within ports. Like teenagers, operations, marketing and accounts often seem to compete for attention rather than work with each other towards achievement.
Silos of skill and delivery that at times seem unable to co-operate with each other (like different departments) or with their parents (that is senior management!). Perspective, empathy and team work are goals that all senior managers and parents would like to achieve.
Marketing needs to ensure it does not oversell, promising the earth; Operations needs to deliver productivity and services attractive to the market; and Accounts needs to grease the wheels. Senior Management need to hear the different perspectives, develop a cogent overall strategy and ensure everyone feels they have been empowered. In doing so, management needs to demonstrate clear leadership.
How to help leaders build a team? How to handle the recalcitrant teenagers so the dinner table conversation is not overwhelmed by claims and counter-claims that lead to dissent and confrontation? How do you help your team move from accusations and internal politics to focus on problem-solving and moving forward to the “goal”?
A number of techniques have been successful in recent years: with and in ports (not with teenagers; with those we all still struggle!). Communication has to be the number one assistant in any team-building process: a clear consistent process of communication to allow for the understanding of roles, functions and most importantly how departments contribute to the success of others and the total organisation. Why does marketing care about productivity? If they can’t claim to be the best (or close to that), making the sale is so much harder.
Another tool has been psychological profiling (not limited to Criminal Minds!). In understanding how our teams think and the characteristics of the departments, we can amend how they interact. It is stating the obvious that accounting likes to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and this does not go well with operations. They need to do everything (or at least some things) yesterday, suppliers not paid, parts not delivered, cranes not repaired. This is simple, obvious and often totally missed. Looking at teams can reveal curious anomalies, which include people working against their personality because of status issues and mismatched expectations. Departments staffed after the image of the manager, not in the image of the work required…
Silos of skill and delivery are not limited to discrete departments. Inside departments they can often be found at an interpersonal level. Similar approaches will work for these silos as well, but the level of management effort and understanding required should not be underestimated. These approaches also work with teenagers, I think; that rather depends if my daughters read this or not!
Most of us have a vision of great leadership. Churchill, Ghandi and Mandela often feature in people’s lists. In business, there seems to be a steady stream of high-profile chief executives aspiring to be that great leader whose presence and strategy changes “their” company. Such leaders do not always encourage enduring greatness, they initiate change but the company can lose momentum if they leave or if the crew are not working towards the same vision. Everyone needs to be on board and striving for the same goal.
Studies show that the most effective leaders are not the big brash types but those that focus on building their team and ensuring that the right members focus on the right jobs. After that, they ensure the team share a common vision. Put biblically, they are trying to ensure that all the parts of the body work together for the common aim.
So, how can a leader most quickly learn the abilities and styles of the members of their team to ensure they are engaged most effectively? How can team members learn to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their compatriots, especially when most of the answers.