In my Things I Believe series, this Part 3 is on Management Values. Part 2 was on Strategy and Part 1 was on Leadership. Part 4 will be particularly fun, engaging and revealing of Personal Values and Beliefs. Part 5 will be on some interesting ways I use to create harmony and balance.
In this series, I’m sharing how I think and the foundation constituted by several (but not all) of my values and beliefs. My intent is to motivate you to think about your own values and beliefs.
Looking back for a moment at Part 2, Strategy beliefs, I was asked about Harvard’s Michael Porter and his Five Forces Analysis, or his other work on competitive strategy and value chain research.” That academic foundation is critically important. Anchoring the rigor of Porter’s strategy fundamentals in values and beliefs applies an internal compass to what you are doing.
The Latest From HBR
Recently, Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen wrote an article “Does Management Work” posted in the Harvard Business Review blogs. They said that good management is essentially the organization setting good targets and long-germ goals; offering incentives for high performance while re-training underperformers; and monitoring organizational performance rigorously and regularly to drive improvement.
For me this HBR blog definition is good, but in practice I think it can be simplified. If Leadership is about people and Strategy is about method; then Management is about execution. My definition of Management is:
Good management is expectation-setting, participating and executing to complete work on time and under budget. It involves many factors from efficiency to effectiveness and is at the core of performance measurement.
Wait! You may ask. What about people? Management involves people, to be sure. Yes, true, but more often management involves 1 person – “you.” There are far more managers of one’s self, than managers of groups and hierarchical organizations. Individuals manage getting things done every day, all by themselves. My definition works for the “individual contributor” manager of his or her self as well as the organizational manager of a “team” or “division.”
One variation I have with the HBR blog’s definition is “participating” instead of “monitoring.” Monitoring smacks of observing from a distance – like from an ivory tower. Participating is engaging, collaborating and interacting which builds confidence and sets a course for success. Effective managers know that setting the right expectations, participating and executing/delivering on those expectations builds confidence, strengthens morale and is ultimately the key to success. Whether it is managing one’s time, one’s self or others, the process is similar and is the difference between achieving and not achieving success.
8 Things I Believe – Management Values (and Beliefs)
Many of the following may seem to be focused on managing a team of people. Be progressive, repurpose them in your mind as you read them to manage yourself. Also consider how they apply to the relationship you have with your own manager.
Hire for fit first, then skills and experience. It’s better to have someone on the team that is a fit for the team and can collaborate and learn, than one that has all the skill and experience, but can’t fit in the team. Hire people that do, over people that talk about doing. Identify those that naturally share knowledge and nurture growth in others – these are the people that fit. The skills can be taught, and experience comes with time.
Look for “coach-ability” in people. Of course you must hire the best people, but there is a trait more important than knowledge and experience. The number one trait to look for in the people you hire and work with is “coach-ability.” This works both ways. Coaching and mentoring is critical to a learning organization. You need people that can be coached, and can coach others.
Reduce friction and eliminate barriers. The role of the manager has moved well beyond command and control. Industrial era command and control style of management – no longer works in the digitally connected social era. A manager’s role is not to “manage” people and tasks alone. Managers must “remove barriers” and enable people on a daily basis to achieve more. When managers realize the value in participating this way, they and their teams excel, and people want to follow their leadership.
Hold people accountable, but be realistic.Don’t wait to the last minute to check on a project or task. Participate to observe what you can do to engage and accelerate people, projects and tasks. Allow your team to hold you accountable for the commitments you make. Constantly communicate the strategy pivots and changes to objectives and responsibilities that affect accountability. There are times when initial expectations change. Listen closely, and keep an open mind.
Nurture productive failure.Failure is part of learning. It is a powerful management opportunity. When a learning failure occurs, reward it publicly. Identify for others what was learned, and thank those that uncovered the learning opportunity. Never shame individuals or punish them. Never single out for discipline any individual that has taken risk and failed. To do so breeds fear of failure, and distrust of management.
Hire swiftly and with urgency.Spend the necessary time up front to identify needs and requirements when you are making the decision to expand your team. Never use the interviewing process to figure out your needs. It is disrespectful and wastes yours and the time of others. Being swift shows a candidate you are serious and makes a statement about the culture of your organization.
Fire swiftly and after due diligence.Be diligent and take the necessary time to evaluate and nurture performance improvement in people. Never let performance issues become critical. Performance should be measured against clear job roles and previously set performance expectations. Be swift when terminating an employee so energy can be channeled for both parties into moving on.
Avoid 360 degree feedback – engage people instead. Walking around and being visible is not enough. You have to engage, get to know people and see what they are experiencing. Avoid formal 360 degree feedback programs. They show you are out of touch with your team. They nurture fear and politics. These arms-length anonymous programs are destructive and build barriers that prevent collaboration. Instead, engage people and participate to build confidence in management and motivate people to perform.
This week, he Hostess Brands bakery closed its doors and went out of business. Notwithstanding my own fondness for Suzy-Q’s, Cupcakes, Snoballs and Twinkies, I think this comes down to managing (the activity, not to be confused with any particular individual or group). It was not the conflict we are hearing in the news that brought down the company. Instead, it was the long term erosion of expectation-setting, execution and delivering – across the board and for all stakeholders. For example, expectations set were not aligned with growing consumer demand for healthier snacks. And, attempts were not sincere – frankly speaking, sugar-free Weight-Watcher’s Twinkies really sucked.
At some point, no one in management or in the ranks, raised their hand and asked if the expectations needed to be changed completely, perhaps even with a new strategy for a completely different line of products that could augment, and eventually replace the wonder-cream filled snacks with a shelf-live similar to the half-life of plutonium. At some point, it becomes too late to fix. Perhaps someone will purchase the brand, and do what needs to be done to re-set expectations. That is, re-set them to match the market with the product. And, then lead the right strategy and manage an organization to deliver on those expectations.
Gosh, I’m going to miss those Suzy-Q’s.
When I started this series, I jotted down different thoughts, and they began to organize into the buckets of Leadership, Strategy, Management, and Personal. I’ve been assembling this now for over 2 months and I expect it to evolve. Going back to Part 1, recall that values are formed by our experiences. I’m still having new and value-affecting experiences. So my values and beliefs continue to expand, grow and strengthen as yours also likely continue to do.
Personal Values and Beliefs is the topic of Part 4
Please leave a comment and share your wisdom with readers on Management