When we are responsible for getting a group of people to do their job and deliver on targets it can be tempting to seek to control things. It is a common mistake among managers (and leaders) to believe that their personal interests and commercial objectives are best served through control.
Do you feel over stretched as a manager, never having time to be strategic?
Do you find it hard to get your people to take responsibility?
Do you feel it is like herding cats?
Do you feel as if you are caught between the demands of your boss and your team?
These are all symptoms of control focussed management.
The very best managers and leaders are not over busy, their people are aligned and take responsibility and they are good at delivering on targets.
So – how do they do it?
Four steps to management nirvana.
Objectives – Clear objectives are vital. Ideally these will be set by the team themselves, but even if they come down from on high, as long as they are clear and justifiable they will work.
We need two different kinds of objective, the first represented by “purpose and vision” must be inspiring and the team must feel passionate about it and aligned behind it. The second is the “mission”, which is essentially the resources required to achieve the vision – particularly money. If the mission enables the vision the team are passionate about, to be achieved, the mission is justified in the minds of the team.
For example: A business has a purpose of “spreading joy”, it’s vision for how it will do this is to “create wow! gadgets” and it’s mission is to generate profits of x and open ten new outlets over the coming year.
The mission is justified and the team are motivated by the mission, because they are passionate about the vision and can see how the mission enables them to deliver on the vision. When everyone is aligned around achieving the objectives it liberates the manager from having to motivate people.
People – Of course, you need great people, but my experience is that most people are great people, given the chance. In the first place team members need to be recruited more for their attitude than their skills (unless we are talking about pilots or brain surgeons ;-), on the whole it is far easier to train for skills than for attitude. They also need to be passionate about the purpose and vision – if they are passionate about a different purpose and vision then they need to be pursuing that.
Once they are part of the team, the most important thing is to create an environment where it is positively encouraged to be authentically yourself. This requires an absence of bullying, malicious gossip and humour and an abundance of encouragement, interest and support. Diversity is also about different personalities and behaviours, diversity is crushed by bullying and gossip.
People must also be supported and encouraged in their personal growth and development, helping them to reach their full potential and personal objectives. The manager does have responsibility for ensuring that great people are on the team and the overall culture of the team.
Ground rules – A team also benefit from an explicit framework of behaviours. A brand is simply what any stakeholder experiences in interacting with an organisation. Therefore, whatever the marketeers have decided, the brand is most often expressed through the behaviour of it’s employees. The ground rules are defined by the behaviours required to deliver on the brand. If “fun” is a brand value, then “fun” is one of the behaviours that team members will need to experience, if not, they will be “off brand”.
The ground rules also give team members the authority to challenge anyone else’s behaviour – including their boss, if it is not “on brand”. When responsibility for behaviour is distributed it liberates the manager from maintaining that kind of discipline.
Trust – If you don’t trust people, don’t employ them. If you do employ someone the implications is that you also trust them. Trust people to do their jobs and to do the right thing. There are companies that don’t count holidays, tell managers that their decisions are pre approved and where expenses policy amounts to asking people to treat company funds as if it was their own money. There is ample evidence that these approaches work rather better than setting and enforcing strict rules, actually reducing costs and abuses.
Trusting your people liberates managers from the need to constantly check on people and enforce discipline. If people know what to do and know how they are supposed to behaving it quickly becomes a self managing system.
Summary – The art of management is achieving more through doing less, getting out of people’s way and letting them have the satisfaction and the glory of a job well done. If you want real success as a manager follow these simple steps and praise your team members for all of their successes and you will be successful too.
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