Brenda Morris is the General Manager UK at Kronos.
What inspires you about a senior management role?
I enjoy defining strategy and ensuring there’s a clear plan of execution to reach those goals. However, while I have a large role to play in shaping business strategy, I’m still close enough operationally to get involved and support the execution plan. Being involved in the business and using defined measurement points means you don’t become too remote from the plan and can make sure the strategy makes sense.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in managing such a large number of people?
Often the biggest challenge in a senior role is ensuring everyone feels involved. It’s important that managers are communicating correctly, listening to their staff and giving clear direction. For employees, it’s important they are listened to, but equally feel empowered and part of a clear vision.
In terms of the greatest reward, it’s seeing people get recognition for great work done and for the contribution they make to the business. It’s important that people get personal recognition, where it’s due, as it drives real motivation and commitment, I get real pleasure from that.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?
With goal setting, keeping it simple and clear is the key. By doing this, it’s easier to define roles and responsibilities. With clear goals it’s also easier to ensure that everything you do is aligned to those goals.
I was told early in my career that sharing objectives with a team was only the first step in making them happen. It’s important to ensure that once goals are set everyone understands them, believe in them and shares in the vision. It will never work if people only pay lip service to them. Equally, if people are struggling with the goals, it’s important to review them to ensure they are still relevant. Goals are a constant that help drive a business forward, but it’s important to adapt as the environment demands.
I have always set goals with thought and consideration, but I’ve never been afraid to change and adapt when it was clear the business required it. Failure comes when you set irrelevant or unachievable goals which I know I have strayed into. Real failure, in my opinion, is when you don’t recognise this and you are not able to admit your mistake.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in business?
Previously, I was the MD of a small business and managed them through an IPO. We had a cash flow issue, but still had 250 staff to pay. I had to go to the bank to request an advanced loan just to be able to pay the employees. It all came good in the end, but was a key learning time for me as the responsibility on my shoulders was for more than just the bricks and mortar business.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
I’m very lucky that I’ve found really great mentors throughout my career, who’ve all given me invaluable advice and support. When you get a coach you admire it’s truly aspirational and I’ve definitely become less reactive and more reflective with the insights I’ve been given over the years.
It’s important to recognise that you may need to change mentor as you progress through your career. Different people will help support you in different ways as you develop – that’s certainly what I’ve found. Equally, don’t be afraid to seek out new advice. Many of my mentors have happened by default, rather than from seeking them out. The best ones are the ones that fit with you and your needs at that time in your career.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
Great contacts are essential in business, however I don’t believe in networking for the sake of it. It’s important to be clear on what you want, but equally what they will get out of the relationship as well. Networking is an important part of business, but it’s essential not to waste people’s time.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
For me, the best analogy for scaling a business is to eat the elephant with a spoon. It’s important to take it one step at a time and break your plan down into manageable chunks to ensure all aspects are covered.
When developing a growth strategy there are a lot of elements involved, from people to process and finance. A business will only succeed if it correctly manages all of these elements together. For me, communication is critical to successful growth, as it’s essential staff understand their evolving roles in the business. It’s also important to work closely with HR to develop and hire the right people to drive the business forward.
What does the future hold for you?
I studied for a Masters in Corporate Governance at UCL 3 years ago. At some point I am interested in taking on some non-executive board roles to enable me to work with a variety of different companies and share my knowledge and experience. There are so few females in Executive and Non-Executive roles, my aim is to be part of changing that trend.