7 concepts of management
“That manager has lost control of a difficult person working for them.”
There’s always a fly in the ointment
somewhere. The question is,
Concept 1. Lots of problems are actually just symptoms.
The issue is not necessarily the problem itself – unfortunately, a complex truth that is often behind supposed communication breakdowns.
I’m often asked to provide one-on-one coaching to managers and equip them with the ‘right’ tools to manage people and communicate properly. It’s only when things have become entrenched and it feels like there’s no moving forwards (or backwards) that you actually stumble across the actual issue – the real Gordian Knot that will now need untangling.
To ensure change is tangible and lasting, I sink my teeth into the root cause of a conflict – and I don’t let go, even if it starts to hurt.
“We want to prepare middle managers and ensure they’re in good shape for Management by Objectives”
The best way to set the ball rolling
is to let it start rolling from the top.
Concept 2. There’s no crossing the finishing line without top-down management.
When you’ve got all the dominos lined up and ready to create an amazing picture, they don’t simply start falling down in the middle. And even if they were to, you’d never be able to work out how or why. This is how things work when you introduce Management by Objectives.
Training managers is a good idea in principle, because it can help middle management get out of the starting blocks – but only if the right preparations have been made at the top for knocking over the first domino. For managers to formulate meaningful goals and implement objectives within their teams, everyone at the company needs a crystal-clear understanding of where senior management intends to get to. If they’re not clear about the journey ahead, ideas and actions simply go to waste. And then there’s no point in offering training.
“A huge amount of work has been done, but often it had nothing to do with the agreed objectives.”
Sometimes the whole is actually less
than the sum of all parts.
Concept 3. Setting goals is not about piling on more work.
Goals … onto the back burner. This may sound cynical, but it often actually is what happens at companies. The reason it happens is as simple as it is serious: goals get defined that have nothing to do with the daily business. Instead, they come on top of it. They entail more work (and time investment), which people haven’t got the capacity for – even if they would actually like to help, you can’t expect them to go all out and do everything.
People should only be given tasks that are directly connected to their own goals. And this will only work if people perceive and comprehend the connections between their own personal targets and the overarching company strategy.
So instead of problem-solving coming ‘on top’ of the everyday workload, it becomes a core task and is placed ‘in the middle’. The reason I’m here is to help you succeed in applying this in-the-middle formula to the specific situation at your company.
“Our company’s expanding so quickly, the people heading up our teams are completely swamped.”
Strength lies in serenity.
It’s the tempest
that releases the energy.
Concept 4. Management is a job for rainy days.
There’s a particular tendency in middle management to think change will be like a sudden downpour. It’s almost like people would rather ride out the storm and wait till everything’s passed overhead. So the knee-jerk reaction, which is entirely understandable among managers, is to slink off and focus on operational issues. People busy themselves and overcompensate by sticking to familiar territory, but the actual management side of things (almost) falls by the wayside.
The key thing is, it’s precisely at times like this that effective leadership is needed the most – when faced by the challenge of change.
Nobody needs an umbrella when the sun’s shining.
What’s crucial now is the fundamental attitude of the manager. If people understand that agreeing to be a manager means agreeing to assume responsibility, they don’t throw in the towel, they use it to dry things down.
This is why my work is very much about empowering the people who head up teams to see that they can stay in control and can move their role forward – so they can see change as a completely normal state of affairs.
Any day of the week. Whatever the weather.
“The people heading up our teams are not accepted by the team members.”
Even if the glass is half full
there’s still 50% missing.
Concept 5. Management can be learnt. In fact: it has to be learnt.
Nobody ends up in the boss’s chair because it was thrust upon them. A career in management is usually triggered by a strong aptitude – some special skill people have to offer. When friction arises in the team, people quickly realise that there are other sides to the management coin: relationships and interactions, especially in a ‘sandwich position’. It’s rare for people to stay in control and manage people effectively because they have an instinct for it. People often have a gut feeling (even if it’s an unsettling feeling).
This is where I encourage people to focus on promoting the right skills, or literally promoting people. By equipping people with the necessary tools of the trade, I arm them with a repertoire of pragmatic management skills. In parallel to this, an understanding develops for engendering and establishing a sense of trust within the team. People see that managing people professionally and showing empathy are not mutually exclusive.
“Our managers are desperately trying to keep their teams motivated in the long term.”
At some point the carrot on the stick
isn’t big enough to entice people.
Concept 6. Motivation comes from within.
It’s true. There really are things money can’t buy. One of them is long-term motivation. To manage people successfully, you don’t need to keep reaching for your wallet and you’re certainly not expected to be an entertainment manager. All you need is a working atmosphere and environment that offers intrinsic motivation – people derive motivation from their tasks themselves, because what they’re working on is meaningful.
In the ideal world, people feel they’re ‘having a good time’ because everyone in the team is allowed to play to their strengths. They have the freedom to define their own roles. They have ways to keep developing as individuals. People with the right options remain positive even with the routine parts of the job. And they don’t run and hide when things start feeling uncomfortable.
Sounds a bit too idealistic? By working closely with your team leaders, I help them determine what works best at work. What conditions need to be established for people to derive satisfaction from their work themselves, based on their inner instincts – so they keep smiling and think ‘yeah’!
“We’ve merged two teams but we’re having problems with the team leader and getting people to work together.”
Too many cooks spoil the broth?
Only if you’re careless
with the spoon.
Concept 7. Flexing muscles is not the same as being strong.
When teams are formed or team members change, people can become highly sensitive. But another thing that can happen when objects collide is that a huge amount of energy is released, and this can be negative or positive.
Yes, a howling gale can be dangerous, but channelled in the right way – by establishing binding rules on how people will work together – strong winds can very quickly fill people’s sails. For this to work, the working climate must allow people to interact in ways that give them enough space to cool down again. Only then does it become possible to clarify people’s positions or roles, paving the way for a smooth transition and productive work.
One of the best ways to move things forward is to organise a team-building workshop. Depending on the starting point, I also apply methods that allow people to tap into their personal creativity and intuition. Often, the results of such exercises are breathtaking.