Be a better boss – six resolutions to follow

Here are the ‘Big Six’ resolutions that you need to make and follow in 2016.

Managing for profit by Peter Hughes

Here’s to a happy new year! If things didn’t all go your way this past year, what you did or didn’t do is likely to be the problem. Never forget that your management style and skill have the biggest impact on your business.

There are two distinct sets of skills required to be a great manager: hard skills and soft skills. The latter are far and away the most important – and the most difficult to learn. With this in mind, here are a few suggestions for your New Year’s resolution list:

I will improve my ‘soft skills’
Do you know each of the persons who reports directly to you? I don’t mean do you know their names. Do you know their hopes and dreams, their wives, their children’s names, their childhood backgrounds, their own family trials and tribulations? Do you genuinely care about them personally? If your answers to these questions are mostly in the negative, you have a soft-skill problem. Get help to develop more empathy!

I will sharpen my ‘hard skills’
How’s your financial literacy? Do you know what depreciation is, and why you have to add it back to profit to calculate cash flow? Do you understand the difference between ‘true motivators’ and ‘hygiene factors’?
Do you know about the ‘three circle’ concept applicable to family businesses?
There are heaps of reading material on every one of these and many other ‘hard skill’ topics. Understanding them will make you a better manager.

I will develop and maintain my ‘perspective’
Perspective provides you with a frame of reference for making sound decisions. Make sure yours is balanced and realistic. Do some travelling. Visit similar operations in your area and elsewhere in Africa or overseas. There is no more productive way of building perspective than by visiting other farmers and markets. It’s so easily done, but so few farmers ever do it!

I will write down my vision and goals
All of us dream, but most dreams die swirling around in the brain of the dreamer. Turn your dreams into reality by writing them down in clear, precise language. Call them your ‘vision statement’ and add a few personal goals. It’s amazing how committing pen to paper helps to clarify your thoughts and drive you towards a commitment.

I will fight pessimism
Whatever position you take in life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think bad things will happen, they do. Pessimism drains you. It sucks the motivation out of you. If you’re a pessimist, snap out of it. I can’t think of a successful businessperson who is not an optimist.

This year I will take on the ‘important’ and push the ‘urgent’ aside
The Pareto Principle holds that 80% of our success comes from 20% of what we do. So make sure you spend your precious time on the important 20% that delivers 80% of the results. Make no mistake, it takes real self-discipline to ignore the ‘urgent’ and focus on the ‘important’, but if you fail you’ll never make it into the ranks of great managers.