3 Proven Management Techniques That Work in Any Business
In business, the only thing that matters is what works, says Peder Johnsen, a third-generation specialist in senior living communities.
“The people in your company who are dealing with your customers – the clerks, the caregivers, the customer service reps – are where the rubber meets the road,” says Johnsen, CEO of Concordis Senior Living, which owns, operates and develops senior housing communities.
“That’s why it’s essential for the company leaders, the men and women in the offices that are often far from the front lines, to be where the action is on a regular basis,” he says.
Concordis’ specialties include managing senior-living communities for other owners and developers, an art it has perfected, Johnsen says.
“We developed certain practices over the decades, first by building assisted-living communities and then by operating them,” he says. “These practices work in any business because they keep the leadership actively involved in what’s going well – and not – on the front lines, and provides a system for regular communication through all layers of the company.”
Johnsen offers these tips for management that produces excellent results:
Identify the influencers in each work group.
As with most businesses, senior living communities require teams of staff, from administrators to housekeepers and everyone in between. Within the various groups that make up your business, identify the key players – the people who influence others’ behavior, whether or not they hold a title or official authority. Meet with them on a regular basis so you can stay plugged in to what’s happening on the front lines.
Identify areas that need improvement.
Talk to them about systems and areas that need to be fixed, overhauled or eliminated, and about how team members are working together. They’ll often have ideas for innovations. The idea is not to look for people or problems to blame, but to work together to develop solutions and improve the team’s overall efforts.
“The information you get in speaking with these key players is invaluable,” Johnsen says. “There may be nothing at all wrong, which is great, but these meetings give you, the CEO or manager, the information you need to constantly improve. It also reinforces the message to employees that they and their ideas are valued members of the team.”
Figure out those “wildly important goals.”
You can have the best people in the field working for you, yet if they’re not specifically guided to a certain goal, they are putting their time and effort toward an end that they’re assuming is correct. CEOs and other upper-level managers have the 30,000-foot view, so it’s up to them to guide everyone beneath them.
“Short-term priorities may change slightly or drastically on a regular basis,” Johnsen says. “Your team may be self-sufficient, but their vision is limited to their daily duties. If they don’t know that a goal or objective has changed, they can’t work toward it.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.