Succeeding as a First-Time Manager

pepper rutland_managementManagement is a natural progression for anyone who loves his or her job and has a knack for leadership. However, great managers are not born or developed overnight; even with a world of experience, knowing how to bring out and/or nurture the same skills in others is something that takes time and personal development. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your first management role.

 

  1. Learn The Business
    There’s a major difference between knowing what the company does and how the company works. You may have some base-level knowledge of how things happen in the company, especially If you’re being promoted into a new role within the same organization, but as a manager, you must also consider the business side of things. That means, the company’s financials, procedures, bureaucracy and how your position, department and subordinates fit into that puzzle.
  2. Ask Questions
    Which brings us to our next major tip: ask questions. This is probably the best but most overlooked part of managing. After all, you’re expected to know everything, right? Wrong. Don’t be afraid to admit blind spots. They’re okay as long you’re making an effort to improve on them. This is particularly helpful for people transitioning to a new company altogether.
  3. Lead By Example
    People will look to you for guidance on how to respond to problems and how to react in times of uncertainty. Make sure you’re sending the right message to your team at all times, and creating a relationship in which they trust your choices and are willing to heed your advice and direction.
  4. Be Yourself
    Your management style or approach doesn’t have to be like someone else’s, nor should you wait for directives on how to get things done. If you have a good idea, take initiative, try things out, and learn whether it works or how you can do things better going forward. This is how you improve.
  5. Be Easy on Yourself
    This cannot be overstated. No one is perfect. In working to get there, show yourself mercy and allow room for mistakes. Doing anything for the first-time is not likely to be easy, but challenges are necessary. Balance the bad with the good, and when criticizing yourself, highlight both. You may find that you’re doing better than you think.

Lessons for Your Business from Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go in actionPeople walking around on their phones with their heads down is not alarming. Afterall, in the age of technology, the complete disassociation with the outside world is commonplace from the dinner to table to the office (sometimes unfortunately). Yet, you may have noticed some recent changes in our culture that is consumed by tech. People aren’t just walking around on their phones, they’re talking about them with others, congregating in parks, showing up at random buildings, and driving around their neighborhoods with a purpose: catching Pokemon via this year’s hottest mobile game, Pokemon Go.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game and the story behind it, let me explain it briefly. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game which uses phone cameras and GPS location data to catch digital creatures (Pokemon), and is based on a nearly 20 year old video game franchise of the same name. Now, less than a month after its launch, the game boasts some 10 million daily players at its lowest estimate, and the number of those doing so is growing. But how did a game that had seemingly past its prime attract such a mass, loyal customer base? Experts from Entrepreneur to Forbes have provide insight.

  1. Leverage Existing Platforms
    Instead of creating the wheel entirely, Niantic (the creators of Pokemon Go) brought their idea to users through an object they already own. With millions of people already in possession of a smartphone, the company lowered barriers related to adoption, allowing users to follow their normal behavioral patterns. In other words, go where customers are and seek to integrate into their lives rather than alter it.

  2. Social Media, Local Marketing and Mobile Integration:
    This strategy, known in the marketing and tech world as SoLoMo, has been one of the largest reasons for the success of Pokemon Go. Niantic has integrated social media with the real world unlike any other game or company, with remarkable success not only for themselves, but for small businesses. Indeed, the popularity of the company has resulted in increased traffic to local businesses and subsequent revenue. Entrepreneur Magazine encourages businesses to do the same through tools like checkins to get customers to engage your business on and offline.

Furthermore, Tech.co shares some very practical examples of how businesses can use Pokemon Go as a marketing tool in addition to learning from it. Some of their advice includes getting on the action by adopting some of the language and themes of Pokemon, which can pay off for your business, turning players into customers. Advertising your business as a stop (if it is one), for those who may not be playing at the time. It requires a bit of effort, but such an acquisition is invaluable, whether the game continues to dominate or not.

How To Keep Growing As A Business

pexels-photo-largeMMR Group continues to grow. Last month, the company proudly announced the purchase of assets and operations of Vector Electric and Controls, Inc. In our 20 plus years as a company, we’ve learned a lot about progress, expansion, and growth as a business. We’re of the belief that there is always room for growth and opportunities to be more impactful. As such, I want to share with you a few tips about how to do just that, regardless of the type of company you manage or lead.

  1. Hire the right people
    Your human assets are the most valuable part of your company. Even if you have the greatest ideas or the largest budget, without the proper talent to manage and execute each of those, the business is nil. Hence, hiring is the most foundational tip for growth and long term success. Look out for people who understand your company’s objectives, its strengths and weakness, and the details of their role. Invest both your time and money in attracting great employees; doing so sets a positive precedent for everything to come.
  2. Have Clear Goals
    The next step is to define what success is for your business and how you want to get there. Perhaps, for your company that means reaching a certain number of customers, opening a second location,  or earning a set amount of revenue. Regardless of what it is, every business needs a list of clearly defined goals and a plan for realizing them. Overtime, as those goals are reached and as your company evolves, your goals should as well. It’s also important to prioritize these objectives and ensure that the rest of your team is on the same page.
  3. Be Strategic
    This step requires a greater level of perception and calls for realizing opportunities that were not previously mapped out, but make sense based on the position of the business itself. With very calculated marketing, mergers, or other business strategies, companies can build an enterprise that is not limited only to rigid goals, but that moves based on what is expedient for the business. Always be sensible about your choices and alert to the possibilities which surround you.
  4. Learn From Mistakes
    Every choice or strategy will be not an immediate hit. In fact, some can be an outright failure; that’s a normal part of business. The best way to recover is to learn from the mistake. Ask yourself which part or parts of the process went wrong and why. Only then can your and your company create more successful outcomes going forward, rather failing multiple times over an avoidable issue. There is no guarantee that all things will work, so don’t be afraid of risk. Even the largest companies from Apple to Google frequently have major failures. As a company, however, your power is in controlling the controllable.

Finally, every business starts somewhere; many with just a simple idea and the work of a single individual. Nevertheless, no one goes into business with small aspirations. Every entrepreneur’s goal is to bring their skills, product or resource to as many customers or supporters as possible. Following these simple practices and words of advice can make the likelihood of such a reality.

The Truth About Why Employees Stay And What It Means For You

startup-photos-largeRecent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that, as of 2012, the average length of time an individual remains in a given job is just under four and a half years. Over the course of a lifetime, the number of jobs a person may have on his or her resume is about 11 (more specifically, 11.4 for men and 10.7 for women). Furthermore, the studies show that the decision to leave is not particular to any one career or industry. These numbers are true for bankers and musicians alike, resulting in turnover anxiety for companies and HR professionals everywhere. Yet, the factors determining why employees leave are equally true for why they stay. Examining such could save companies the estimated $40,000 it costs to replace staff member..

With regard to those who stay, MMR Group recently honored a number of employees which have been with the company for over a decade, some of them almost two. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to say that we have people on our team who have worked with us for so long, who’ve watched our company grow, and likewise, have had a hand in our success in the time they’ve been with us. Other than being amazing people, as all of our employees are, based on this research, I wonder what makes them an anomaly.

According to an older issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR), employees stay at a company for two reasons. The first is they enjoy the work they do/their job description is aligned with their passion. This concept was confirmed more recently by a poll in TIME magazine, which shows that over 67% of people surveyed remained at a job because they enjoy the work, making it the number one influence for retention. Secondly, people stay because of what the HBR called a good “company environment” or what we call workplace culture, today. It means that employees feel connected to companies with which they share values, ideals and ways of living (or working, in this instance).

However, the latter is usually more ambiguous. What defines a workplace culture, really? It could be a number of things from how you communicate with employees, whether via email or face to face. And with that, are employees required to make a meeting or can they in whenever? Also, does the office go out for drinks after work or do most people at the company abstain from alcohol? Is the office quiet? Is there vacation time? Do most people use that time for vacation? All of these questions help better define what the culture of your workplace is–from simple to more complex results. Everyone has a company culture/environment, and no particular one is better than the other. Unless, of course, it isn’t a proper fit for the people you hire.

Thus, it’s important for companies to be aware of both factors. Make sure that job descriptions are expressed clearly and comprehensively. In interviews, get to know prospective employees on a deeper level than credentials and job history. Finding out someone’s true passion and how they work on a daily basis can make a world of difference in losing an employee and keeping a great one for life.