How Managers Get in the Way
“Most of what we call management consists of
making it difficult for people to get their work done.”
Four ways managers get in the way:
- Meddling – Managers that roadblock work stay too close and talk too much. Your people want you to let them work. Stop by to encourage and ask questions, briefly. Express interest, give direction, and get out of the way. Stay close enough to monitor progress.
- Meetings – Too many meetings that include too many people that share too much detail. Meetings 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. Send a memo.
- Butt covering reports – Requesting too many reports that include too much irrelevant detail that takes up too much space in file cabinets and on networks. One reason you ask for all the detail is to cover your butt. It’s a business culture issue. Fear based cultures lack vitality, freedom, and performance.
- 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. People deliver projects, not meeting or reports.
Enhancing productivity may not be about doing more and working harder. It may be about meddling and meeting less, fewer reports, and focusing on people.
How do managers make it difficult to get work done?
Amen to less or at least shorter, focused meetings!
Never meet when a memo will do.
So true. If you have a meddling boss – which I have in the past – I would get so much work done when they were gone!
Often, managers know the end result but the way they would do it doesn’t work for the person doing it.
I like ALL of the points today. Faces and situations from my past kept coming to mind as I read each one.
Whenever you have a ‘standing’ meeting, an agenda will form to fill it whether the items are important or not.
Someone will believe if they speak the most at the meeting, they are the most successful and important to the organization.
Reports and answering surveys have become endless… crowding out the time to accomplish meaningful tasks.
You know what I think organizations need the most? Someone who is approachable and nonjudgmental to answer questions. If a member of the organization has a question, they can get it answered and move on with the work.
You’ve out done yourself today… Love the thought that agendas grow to fill the time allotted. Powerful
Bureaucracy and nature abhor a vacuum!
Nice portion on the fear based culture. It is always interesting to sit in a conference room and see the expressions on people’s faces. I am always in awe when the entire room has this really uptight, slight fear-forced smile on their faces that just screams, “Please don’t call on me.” I am sure there is a whole-lot of open communication going on there. 🙂
Wouldn’t it be great if fear gave way to confidence and candor?
It would! However, it seems to be a rather arduous process with a lot of open and honest communication. Unfortunately, any progress seems to get stifled at the first sign or hint of regression.
Have you read Welch’s book, Winning? He worked at candor for years..Progress is possible but arduous
Yes, that is a great book. I think that at certain times it may require a moderator and/or an acceptance of willing to grow (maturity).
Hi Dan, we hire the best talkers who were good at doing the work of the people that they now supervise and we wonder why they talk too much and direct too much. Stop hiring the best talkers.
Great point Robert. Promoted to their level of incompetence.
I have been enjoying your posts the last few months including this one. I would like to comment on item two regarding meetings.
I believe the issue is not meetings per se but poorly conceived and facilitated meetings. Meetings should be a place where real productive work is accomplished! This requires strong meeting practices which many managers do poorly.
For example, a meeting should have a “functional” agenda. Instead of a list of topics, an action verb should be associated with each topic such as we will:
Memos alone cannot do the above but they can position a functional agenda so people have the information needed to come prepared to act on and accomplish meaningful work together.
When a meeting is planned with the intent to get work done together, it forces the manager to make sure the right people are present to accomplish the desired work which makes staff less resistant in attending unproductive meetings.
Keep doing what you do best!
The more managers inculcate their self-importance and wax eloquently about their self-aggrandizing mythos, less and less gets done. Ouch, did I just wax!? 😉
Managers can make it difficult for staff members to get their job done by constantly changing how they want them to do it.
I have interacted with lot many people and found that everybody is facinated by Manager designation but they hardly know their core roles and responsibilities… Also they do not know how to get work done from people. All they care about is Completing targets rather than focusing on employees who.really make it happen..
The points put forth are too good and have much deeper meaning..
Hello Sally79, I agree with you that, “they do not know how to get work done from people,” but why are they managers? Seems to me that we hire far too many people who are uneducated, untrained and unskilled in managing people and projects and then bemoan that they get in the way. The problem is not managers but the people who hire managers.
I totally agree, check my article: http://mensconcept.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/business-meetings-usless/
Brilliant, short, sharp and to the point, All managers should read, understand and apply these guidelines.
The hard part is getting them to read it…denial is not a river in Egypt. 😉
This is why project-based learning is better in schools than traditional learning. See how my school runs at drstaub.wordpress.com
Excellent article! I would like to add that the one word that ties all of your points together is Expectation. Many managers fail to realize that their people will reach the level of their manager’s expectation. By expecting little, you will get just that. But when you make your expectations known and get out of the way, your people will rise and many times surpass your expectation.
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Great post. I can really appreciate the four points you shared as I work with managers and teams to help them get the ‘balance’ right. Helping managers understand that their role is to help the team get the work done is an interesting aspect of my work. The resistance to step back is something I find managers gripping onto quite tightly. Whether it’s the staff or the manager I think being able to see the situation from a wider perspective will also help to under or over do any of the four roadblocks you listed. Being able to ask yourself, ‘what will be the impact on others if I do …?’ Will go a long way to improving work flow, communication and relationships. Your point about costly meetings is a great one. I wrote about this some time ago as well (http://bit.ly/QjGU1d ), I think it is something that needs to be constantly thought about: What is a more cost effective way of getting the information across and who really needs this information now? Thanks for the great concise post.
You have just described my boss.
How i wish this article gets to all organizations for their immediate adoption.