Takeaways from working with management teams
Updated: Dec 31, 2021
I have the privilege (and the pleasure) to work with teams of experienced and smart people. No novices in management and with very demanding business goals.
People who expect coaches to have experienced the challenges they face. These people see through hollow phrases and schemes immediately.
Difficult because they dare to challenge ?
I love them… because they ask real questions, linked to real business issues and they let me learn new insights every time.
I felt it was time to share some of those “learnings” … not always from working with the smart people but also from other organisations that had an impact on “my” customer.
If somebody had shared this with me and helped me use is when I was younger ... I know I would have been a better manager and I would have been able to use resources better... from all points of view.
But that is THE starting point : be prepared to question yourself.
🎇Reason of existence of a company or team is (sometimes) not known or not shared.
Shared is beyond “known” : it means all participate to achieve something that is in common. This is often referred to as a vision… but that is not always clear. Too much mumbo-jumbo instead of simple words. Vision inspires and sends shivers down your spine. Not a yawn...
🏝Strategy is too vague
Strategy is how you will achieve the vision. It is about what you will do…
But even more important : what you choose NOT to do.
Often companies don’t want to miss out on something, so they won’t say “no” … they are opportunistic and non-focused.
Employees get confused …
🎼Strategy is not translated towards employees
If a strategy is made, choices need to be made to translate that to every employee. Failing to do so, i.e. not acting, cripples a company. At best a status-quo emerges. Usually it becomes a decline.
🏹Goals are not related to the vision
Sometimes vague, sometimes irrelevant or too wide…
Goals need to provide clarity and be shared.
By the way : Goals cannot be expressed with verbs… cause then you tell how to.
🧑🎓Managers are afraid to be considered “not all knowing”
Some will try to hide it by resorting to “command and control”, others by remaining vague. Then comes the moment that they realise that their team does not expect managers to know everything, but expects them to recognise the competencies of the members and know how to make it all fit together.
🧚Managers really try to be useful, to listen, to develop.
Unfortunately they forget to put themselves in the shoes of others. And so they offers solutions to people without knowing the real drivers or needs. Both parties get frustrated.
It also means being clear when you do not know or you can not tell
🧏Empathy : starts with listening / talking as the other wants or needs. Again : from their perspective (or shoes).
Emotions are elements to consider in any decision, just as any other “data”. But you can’t put a number on them so they do not fit in a spreadsheet.
⚖️Career is not always “promotion”
“What does career mean for you ?” is an interesting question to ask, with no additional explanations to steer the outcome. The replies might surprise you, but will allow a manager to have a good discussion on development etc.
Do we need managers if we want a flat organisation anyway ?
For people who are arguing for a flat organisation, they start from the premise that
“command and control” is outdated and that people can determine themselves how to contribute.
Their conclusion -quite logically- : get rid of managers.
I disagree with the conclusion.
In a modern organisation we do not need supervisors who do the “command-and-control”. We need managers who guide people towards the vision, giving the right support at any moment of time. That support can be encouraging or sometimes pointing out what went wrong.
Good goaling (shared SMART etc.) helps people to work in the same direction (do not forget : shared !).
Feedback motivates people. Of course not if you do the old-fashioned yearly one-way bashing, but that even if the early 90’s that was old-fashioned.
A flat organisation that is self-steering requires a very clear vision and a specific kind of people who are not afraid to be lost or wandering. And owners who accept that certain KPI’s are not met…