Moving in a different direction for this blog post as I put my own managerial philosophies on the table. Having been a manager in different capacities, lastly as a member of an Executive Management Team, there are a few things that have been gleamed over the years.
I will not say that I am the best manager ever, however the results achieved and accomplishments do put me in the competent and always learning category. I will share some topics that have worked for me over the years.
Many have this misconception that being a manager is getting to easy street and not having to work anymore. This is comical and far from the truth. Others have the misconception that being a manager is being the boss of everyone and everything, in the immortal words of W, “being the deciderer”. Also comical, especially when one‘s ego gets in the way and makes good decisions next to impossible. These incorrect interpretations are endless, however for some individuals may not be far from the truth.
In most cases, being a manager means being responsible for the Individual Constributor (IC) population that comprises a team or group of teams under their responsibility. I am a firm believer that if you have a team of IC’s and if you take care of them, in most cases they are going to take care of you. As with anything, there are outliers to this. A devious IC will most certainly take care of you too, not in a good way, however that would be an entire book more so than a blog post.
I have always approached managing more as working for the IC’s on my team rather than the other way around. To make sure they have the tools and resources they need to perform their duties and then summarily getting out of their way to let them do their job. To mentor, assist, and when needed provide direction. Micro-managing and hovering is not my forte, nor is it conducive to productivity, for the IC or myself.
We, as humans, are all different, yet similar, and thus we all have different ways of approaching work that makes us more productive. Having worked with and for micro-manager types in the past I found it stifling, irritating, and nonproductive at best. Just as we are all different in our own ways, we all handle work and workloads differently, and we all generally have the capability to ascertain the best approach that fits at any given time to accomplish tasks expediently.
If one wishes to improve productivity and workflow, stop micro-managing and give your people the space to do their job. Stop hovering and walk away. When they need help, provide insight, but do not always give them the answer to the problem. Let them find it on their own, maybe providing a hint at most. This fosters problem solving skills, self reliance, and confidence.
Giving an IC the space to grow and knock things out of the ballpark is not a challenge to one’s managerial prowess, but a testament to it. Importantly, recognize the difference in the team over time once employing these strategies. Tantamount to everything is to recognize them for making the difference, to say thank you, and to actually mean it. Most will know the difference between meaning it, and feigned appreciation.
Are there IC’s that will not respond to this? Yes, there are always outliers and this may point to a weak link. This brings about many questions that as a manager one must begin to analyze and answer, which brings about a couple of my most favorite topics, workflow and productivity.
Bottlenecks and weak links are a negative multiplier for unimpeded workflow and productivity. Not just for IC’s, but for one’s entire team, department, or company. As a manager, one should thoroughly understand their team, it’s work scope, and it’s workflow. Fully understand these topics as they relate and this will put you further on the track of taking care of your team.
Working with other teams and other managers can also be challenging, especially when leveraging some of these tactics to improve service levels, remove bottlenecks, and in supporting one’s team. If the challenge and resistance is too great when it comes to common sense approaches and modern management principles being applied, then once again, one must begin to analyze the situation and answer questions.
If one is on a management team of competent, knowledgeable, and organizational success oriented individuals they will see the worth of what you have done and are continuing to do. If not, it may be time to find one; this could be yet another book.