101 ways to be a better manager (Rev: 1.11)

1. Getting immediate results
  • To achieve more sales to existing clients
    Build an information base on every client. Know your clients well so that you can find new ways to sell other products to them. Know what do your clients expect, need and want from you.

    Constantly reviewing and improving your servicing to your customer, for examples, provide useful and update information to customers, help customers through ideas or advice, improve your response to request (information on a product, deliveries, technical questions, etc) from customer, etc. Respond quickly to complaints by customers and follow these up so that you can improve your servicing to have a satisfied customer.

  • Gaining more clients
    Best advertising is word of mouth from your satisfied customer. Have plenty of written references and success stories from your satisfied customer.

    After knowing the types of customer who might uses your product, coordinate your sales team to descend on an industrial block or cold-calls on every business in that area. Another tactic is to have 1 salesperson, 1 day a week, cold-call on the telephone for the whole sales team. This job would be rotated within the sale team on a weekly basis.

  • Managing debtors
    Have a definite credit policy. For example, all payment must be made within 30 days once the goods and invoice are received. A commercial interest rates will be charged for overdue payment. Make your terms of trade very clear to awkward customers and potential customers. Have specific criteria for extending credit and ensure that it is adhered to by your staff.

  • Negotiate harder on purchases
    Your staff should know the key operational person in the supplier's firm so that direct contact can be made when problems occur.

    As there are always new products, new suppliers and technological changes, review the price on a regular basis. Always compare the prices offered by different suppliers and ask for better price, credit terms, service and technical support. Before negotiations with suppliers, know precisely what you want, the minimum terms you will accept, etc. Have a backup plan so that if these negotiations fail, you can still obtain an alternative supply.

  • Controlling inventory
    Effective sales forecasting leads to effective inventory control. To establish future stocking levels and stock profile, we can use historical analyses and modify it according to forward predictions of economic circumstances, competitor activity, additional sale plan from your own organisation, etc. Take account of the lead time from suppliers for the stock, and the necessary safety margin to ensure that sales are not lost through lack of stock. Review your inventory profile at least quarterly. When there is excess or non-moving items of stock, aim to quit the stock early.

  • Improving production margins

    • Negotiating better material costs.

    • Reducing direct labour costs, waste, downtime, rework, lost time through plant breakdowns, cost of components, etc.

    • Involving staff. Management should discuss problems and issues with supervisors and staff involved so that ideas for improvement are raised, considered and implemented.

    • Reassessing market and customer requirements, and reducing materials costs whenever possible. However, make sure your products still meet customer requirement in term of price and product performance.

      For example, a roller bearing manufacturer, after conducting such a survey, ceased manufacturing one range of bearings in stainless steel and began producing them in mild steel. This greatly reduced the cost, but also the quality of the product. However, the mild steel bearings were more than adequate for their application, and the customer was pleased with the reduction in price.

2. Managing Ourselves
  • We must manage our thought to stop negative, self-defeating thinking overpowering us. We control what we think. Our thoughts influence how we feel. Therefore, we have the opportunity to determine our own enjoyment and satisfaction.

  • We cannot continue to do things the same way simply because they have always been done that way. By altering our thinking habits, we can alter our behaviour and improve our performance.

  • Self-statements such as "I am a shy person, I am a failure, etc" influence our behaviour and lead us to bury ourselves deeper in old habits of thinking and acting. We must build better self-statements:
    • I am a shy person, but am becoming less so.
    • I am not the most outgoing person I know, but I am becoming better.
    • I will initiate contact with people and will not become upset when they do not initiate contact with me.
    • I am a sensitive person, but as a leader, I know I will have to do things I will not enjoy doing.

    Our existing self-statements are merely the ways we have come to think about ourself, and we can change that. Whenever we feel ourself slipping into self-defeat, we can imagine ourself on the ceiling looking down at ourself, and ask: "Are these negative thoughts helpful ? Do they help to deal with the problems ?"

  • Your performance as a manager is never as good as you think at your best moments, and never as bad as you think at your worst moments. A good writer usually put the work away for a while and come back to it with a fresh eye. Inevitably, it is not as good as he first thought.

3. Leadership and creating the climate


[1] 101 ways to be a better manager by Graham Little

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