The less time we have the more trust we need if we are to make an impact as managers.
“…even senior managers spend little time on planning or abstract formulation, are subject to constant interruptions, hold short face-to-face meetings which flit from topic to topic and respond to the initiatives of others far more than they initiate themselves…the conclusion…the notion of the manager as strategist, planner and thinker is a myth (Mintzberg, 1975) and that even senior managers allow themselves to be diverted from their ‘real’ work by constant interruption and capricious interpersonal contact…the office is not place to work…the only effective way for an executive to make sure he (sic) is not interrupted is to be out’. (1963, pp.113-4).
People Management Then and Now
50 years later, has anything really changed? Do you still find yourself flitting from one meeting or crisis to the next? Dealing with other people’s problems; getting sucked into the minutia of your team’s work and interpersonal issues?
Well over 50 years ago, one way of dealing with the increasing complexity of production (and the industrial revolution was pretty complex compared to what came before), was the production line – separating the whole job into smaller tasks. In this way, managers could employ less skilled people, teach them to do one small thing all day long (so they became specialists in that thing), and supposedly it was easier to manage these people – but you had to have a lot of managers to do it.
In essence, this management paradigm was built on total mistrust in the employee. Mistrust that the employee had anything but their own best interests at heart; mistrust that they were smart enough to do anything without direct supervision and mistrust that they could make autonomous decisions. This was the era when managers did (allegedly) know everything and workers didn’t so they needed to be, well, managed!
But we live in a different world. It is far more complex than ever before. The rate of change is accelerating. We now know from many years of research and theorising that in fact people perform at their best when they have autonomy, purpose and understand the ‘whole’ job – and how they are contributing to it.
Why is it then, that there are still so many managers who feel compelled to micro-manage their team? I believe it still comes down to a lack of trust. But here’s the thing. We all have too little time and too much to do to be distrusting. In order to focus on the things that matter (the big picture, set direction and culture, find opportunities, and so on) managers must allow their people to manage themselves.
Ways to Build Trust with Your Team
Today I read a great blog by JosephGrenny about a team that held itself to account – not the boss! It has been found by Grenny’s team that the health of the relationship, team and organisation can be measured by the “average lag time between identifying and discussing problems”.
To create a trusting relationship between you and your team, so you can trust that they are doing what they are supposed to and dealing effectively with the issues that emerge, try these strategies:
ü Actively engage your team in determining the direction of the team or organisation, and defining the strategic priorities.
ü Establish clear work and behaviour expectations with your team so they know what they are supposed to be doing and by when, and how they should treat each other.
ü Create clear performance indicators and review processes, and this might be setting up short team meetings, or scrums each week; or it might be short reports via email – something easy.
ü Give the team the authority and skills to hold each other to account for their own performance and behaviours.
ü Create a culture of collaboration by rewarding behaviours and process that achieve this.