Look the part, speak the part!

A friend has given me Karren Brady’s book ‘Strong Woman’ to read, because she thought I would enjoy it.

She was completely right.  Thank you Lindsey, I am so lucky to know you, you are an inspiration.

Karren Brady says that “Success is about making the best of your skills, whatever they are.”

As Business Managers we often look at the skills and resources available to us, but how often do we reflect on what skills we have.. just take a minute to think of all the skills that you encompass.

Karren Brady’s advice on the way to succeed is to look the part, speak the part, read every piece of material about the company and understand what every department does.

This is so that you can communicate, give opinion and talk about any aspect of the company.

Now replace the word ‘company’ with ‘school’ or ‘multi academy trust’ and exactly the same concept applies.

Lets take each one of these in turn:

Looking the part – as a Business Manager we are part of the brand, an ambassador who should uphold the school values. First impressions count, so make yours a good one. I find that there is a delicate balance with dressing appropriately. I work in a deprived area so it is important not to dress to authoritatively┬ábecause I don’t want to put parents off talking to me. If I am going to an event I will always make an effort to dress smartly. It was a wise person that said you should dress for the job that you want, not the one that you have.

Speaking the part – being an advocate for your organisation. When I first became a Business Manager I spent a lot of time listening rather than speaking, especially in meetings, training events and at conferences. I wanted to absorb as much information as possible, to learn the language and to understand how education worked. That is what has enabled me to now speaking with confidence. Knowledge and understanding is powerful. When it comes to talking I am not one for fluffing or talking round the houses. I like to get to the point (in a polite way). I will only share my view or opinion if I know it will add something. I won’t speak for the sake of it.

Read every piece of information about the organisation – working in the education sector this means a lot of reading. It’s important to read more widely than just your own school. I read papers from the DFE, other schools Ofsted Reports, industry magazines, enewsletters, workshop notes, Twitter posts, LinkedIn posts… I read everything that I can fit in. I want to be up with the latest in the industry.

Understand what every department does – I would say that this one is the hardest and has taken the longest to get to grips with, but I would compare it to double entry book keeping once you get it, then you’ve got it. One of the key strengths that Business Managers in schools have is the understanding of the education sector and how it all works. Don’t under estimate how valuable it is.

One value that I share with Karren Brady is independence and doing things for myself. I have never allowed anyone to tell me what I am capable of, I will decide for myself.

Some of you will know if you read my Twitter account that I am hoping to write a book for business managers. I have never written a book before, but you don’t know what you can do until you try!

I would encourage Business Managers to collaborate, share your knowledge and experience, don’t assume that everyone knows what you know. Because they don’t. Due to circumstances that I won’t go into when I started as a Business Manager there wasn’t someone in post to show me how to be one. I’ve had to find my own way. I have learned so much from other professionals, through Twitter and meeting people at Comferences and other events. I really appreciate the support and encouragement that I have received. Thank you to everyone I have met so far and to those that I am lucky enough to meet in the future.


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