Four Ways Managers Roadblock Productivity
“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” Peter Drucker
Four ways managers roadblock productivity
- Talking – Managers that roadblock work talk too much. Your people want you to leave them alone.
- Meetings – Too many meetings that include too many people that share too much detail. Here’s some motivation to abbreviate or cancel meetings. They are expensive. A one hour meeting with 8 people in attendance costs their combined salaries plus lost productivity. Remember, you don’t get anything done in a meeting. Things get done after meetings.
- Reporting – Requesting too many reports that include too much irrelevant detail that takes up too much space in file cabinets. One reason you ask for all the detail is to cover your butt. It’s a business culture issue. People expect you to know the details of all the projects you manage. Sadly, if you know all the details of all the projects you manage, you aren’t managing to your highest potential. I realize this is an organizational-culture issue.
- Projects rather than people – It’s instinctive to focus on projects and deliverables. However, it’s more effective and efficient to give clear direction, encouragement, and motivation to your people than it is to get directly involved in long-term projects.
Enhancing productivity may not be about doing more and working harder. It may be about doing less.
How do managers make it difficult to get work done?
Another thought provoking post. Another way I’ve seen managers hinder work is by continually changing priorities. You get going on one project or task only to have them turn around and re-direct everyone’s efforts. In the end, you end up with a bunch of half-way completed projects and a lot of frustration. Thanks again for the article and the time invested. You are appreciated.
I think another managers roadblock productivity is by being too controlling. They don’t give you enough freedom to be creative or try new things in your area of work.
In a word – micromanagement!
Unproductive meetings not only waste time — they actually reduce people’s urge to follow through and deliver. Meetings are often status reports of info that could be shared online.
Great meetings do the following:
-Build collaboration, teamwork, morale, spirit
-Create bursts of creativity by having people together (or video conferenced)
-Work through issues using information already shared online
Good post — very good reminders to all managers.
Well stated Kate!
I would put the last one on your list as first and the function of the meeting. And it requires advance work, perhaps individually or in smaller groups prior to the meeting, not during the meeting. The outcomes would be the first two items on your list and if well done, they would have a positive exponential outcome with them as well.
Lengthy meeting sap and drain energy!!!
Great post Dan. It really depends on the employee. Managers would benefit from learning more about what drives their people, how best to communicate with them (some may want the talking/guidance, others may want to be left alone) then they can more intelligently adapt their style.
Hi Dan. You and the team have a great list growing here. Here are a few more road blocks and detours:
1. Setting personal desires ahead of team priorities. The team scrambles to meet the managers desires and never achieves group goals.
2. Forcing the team to do it “my way.” The managers way may be a good one, but the beauty of a team is that someone on it may have an even better way to get the job done.
3. Encouraging group think. Consensus may create a perception of harmony, but encoragiing people to find ways around roadblocks occurs when individual ideas are requested and explored.
(And thanks for the mention of AZEC11 above. Now we just need to get you and the other LeadershipFreaks out here for it in November. I can promise NO SNOW in Phoenix. 🙂
How do managers make it difficult to get work done?
This is so basic but such a continued problem. Dealing with crises and fires that beg to be put out, to the exclusion of planning and/or developing an evaluation program.
As anyone who has ever contributed to a Business Continuity and Contingency Plan knows, it seems ludicrous to talk about a situation where 75% of the workforce is sick or the entire building is without power for days or some other crisis renders the organization completely unfunctional. Here in Florida, one summer of three hurricanes taught us that we had let our employee phone list get old – and that one simple omission made it difficult to communicate and implement the other pieces of the plan.
How do managers make it difficult to get work done?
Meetings, meetings meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings and on and on…
Meetings are and will be the death of corporations and life as we know it.
Not a fan of roadblocks, more of a glass half full kind of person. Managers should encourage “work smarter, not harder”. Too many think that just because you put in the long hours that’s supposed to be a good thing or better than those who don’t. I like to see people come up with innovative ways to be more efficient and finish sooner, then they can spend more time balancing their lives with fun things to do that keep them fresh for more good ideas.
I agree to all the points how managers roadblock productivity. I would like to mention some additional points about how managers make it difficult to get work done. Reliance on few closed associates/people, believing in top down communication, expecting others to come to cabin, not ensuring proper flow of information, delay in decision making, delay in disposal of claims etc.
Managers knowingly or unknowingly rely on people closedly associated with them. They do not rely on others and even do not ususally bother to verify the information. They believe more in communicating and it is top down. They usually do not interact with people and this is major bottleneck in creating roadblock because top down communication breaks human touch and interaction strengthen human touch. Managers usually lock themselves in cabin and expect others to come. This a drawback that comes from ego. Instead managers should sit less in cabin and wonder around at workplace. Decision making in organisational matters or personal matter is also area of major concern. Decisions are pending and they keep on postponing it. Even personal claims are not disposed in time. This approach lose trust in the organisation and poeple lose motivation.
The root of motivtion is respect and trust. Leaders should address them first and productivity will automatically improve. So, focus on people not on projects or details.
Good post. I think you’re spot on for most of these, though I think the first point may be contentious! 🙂
Several excellent managers I know talk a fantastic amount, which is why they excel with people!
Keep up the good work
Another great post and lots of great follow-up contacts. One of my most popular workshops in our area is running effective meetings… this gives me one more documentation of the points I make in the class.
I’m starting a supervisor training workshop soon. Thanks for all the comments and ideas.
Dan – I’m a bit uncomfortable with this post. Yes, these behaviors done wrong can roadblock. So could taking too much time to build a shared vision or align on goals or giving feedback…Virtually any valuable activity could turn bad if done to excess. And so it is with these. Talking? Meetings? Tracking? Project productivity? All important and valuable activities. It’s a question of balance and perspective, isn’t it?
The real issue here is how to ensure Talking et al are done with skill and are providing net positive impact.
One final thought: before I was a manager, I saw most managerial activities as annoyances, roadblocks to my very important contributions. As I grew as a manager, I came to appreciate the very activities that once bugged me.
Thanks for jumping in. I agree, this post is a bit uncomfortable. I was motivated to write it because as leaders and managers we often blame others for a lack of productivity. I believe before blaming others we should look within and take responsibility.
Perhaps the most uncomfortable idea, from my point of view is reporting. It’s such a valuable tool.
I agree, virtually any valuable activity could turn bad if done to excess.
Thanks for jumping in,
Mark is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/mark-friedman
Oh, if only the people who NEED to know these things would READ this and SEE themselves. Sigh.
AMEN to what Karen said!
Sorry I was in a meeting and didn’t get to post sooner…oh wait… 😉
I bet we could create a stellar list of ‘you know you are in an unproductive meeting when…’
…people spend time reading meetings from the previous meeting, or hand-outs or reports that had already been sent to them. (do your homework before you come to class!)
…someone passes out hand-outs or reports that should have been sent earlier.
…one person talks much more than everyone else.
…the same meeting has met each month at the same time with the same people (some substitutions allowed) for more than 2 years.
…you leave a meeting wondering why you were there.
…someone is texting, Blackberrying, iPadding, etc.
…someone nods off or they do a MEGO.
…there were no specific outcome measures of success identified for the meeting prior to the meeting occurring. (do your homework meeting facilitators, it’s part of your role!)
One of the Lean suggestions is to hold 22 minute meetings or hold stand up only meetings…or cancel meetings for four weeks and see what gets done. (the last one isn’t really a Lean emphasis)
Hi there. Do you mind if I repost this on my personal blog and link back to your blog? I really like what you said here.
If it’s useful, use it.
Well said Dan. It’s remarkable how great management frequently means getting out of the way and letting our employees shine. The challenge is to convince managers that they don’t need to be the star in every interaction. It also helps to build up some fundamental skills like listening, delegating and team building.
Great post. As I leader it is good to be reminded about some of these valuable truths. I appreciate the comment you make,
“Enhancing productivity may not be about doing more and working harder. It may be about doing less.”
I try and remind the guys I lead, “we want to work smarter, not necessarily harder.” One way I have seen a manager in my life make it difficult for me to work is a lack of clarity and vision. Because of the ‘lack of’ clarity and vision it truly has caused mission drift which can become quite frustrating. Thanks again for the helpful reminder.
“Remember, you don’t get anything done in a meetings”
Not sure I fully agree with this. Most meetings are pointless, I’ll agree with that. A well run meeting, however, can be used to build consensus, overcome language barriers (both internal and international), make important decisions and resolve conflicts.
The lost productivity and opportunity from not holding an effective meeting can sometimes massively outweigh the costs of people being there.
Ross makes a good point. In many cases, if you push forward without a collaborative meeting your project might lack unity and direciton. Provided you have an intelligently managed meeting, the time spent is worth the production lost as long as you have a manager who knows how to follow up post-meeting. In my opinion, that is when massive failures happen.