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10 steps to being a better and way more effective manager

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No. Na. Nope. Nya. Ummm … no. No siree. Not me. Oh, maybe, hang on a second, er, sorry, no.

I have no idea what should be in your budget and it’s a simple truth that no one else does either. They may have a first clue about what they want to be in there and what it should all add up to, but beyond that … they know nothing.

You do.

A play in three acts

In theory, budget setting is a simple play of three acts.

Act 1 — Setting — What happened last time, in words and numbers?

Act 2 — Thinking — What will change next time? Including anything that’s different inside the company, like targets and constraints, or outside the company, such as market conditions, competitor movements and new technologies making headway.

If you aren’t given objectives, set them yourself. If you don’t know what’s happening in the market, go find out.

The better you understand the variables the easier the planning will be (and the more robustly you can justify your choices during review meetings).

Act 3 — Planning — What do you plan to do, in words and numbers?

After discussion, comes decision. What will you spend in order to achieve the objectives? How is that different from last time? Why have you made those choices?

Give yourself a budget and a target. The budget is a promise, so don’t make promises you can’t keep. The target is a stretch motivator, something to shoot for, to achieve if … if … if, but not a fantasy. Pinning everything to a fantasy is the surest way to demotivate everyone and guarantee failure.

That’s the theory. What’s the reality?

Budget meetings can be bloody. Turn up with a low ball, last year +/- 10%, no thinking, generous pay rise, doubled marketing spend, steady state budget and you probably deserve to get juiced.

Budgets are all about numbers but like so much else, they’re really all about preparation. Get set, have a strong and reasoned argument for every change, be ready to walk through every penny — you’ll skip out of the meeting with a firm budget, a warm glow and a polished reputation.

Sadly, some review meetings are an ego trip for the finance team; they think it’s their job to beat you up. You owe it to your team to deal with them like any other bully — look ’em in the eye and stand firm.

Ruined by game playing and phoney smiles, managing in the pursuit of skippiness means taking budget sessions as a brilliant opportunity to align your whole team behind a coherent plan.

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Keeping Promises Making Promises

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Who are you dealing with?


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By the end of a sales call you should have a…