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The 4 Things Great Managers Do

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no mystery to good management, though many management consultants and Business schools may like to make it seem so. Management is about working with and getting things done through the actions of others. Here are four things that great managers do to make this happen.

 

1. Management By Walking Around

MBWA is a great way to increase contact between senior management and the people who work for them. The Japanese have a great term for the workplace -GEMBA and it is where the action happens, where the work takes place. Masaki Imai the great Kaizen (method of continuous improvement) guru tells a story of what Mr Toyoda (founder of Toyota Motors) used to do when hiring new engineers. He would greet them on their first day at work, take them to a place on the shop floor, draw a square or circle on the ground and tell the engineer to stand in that square all day. The next day he would take the same engineer to another part of the factory floor, draw another square and tell the engineer to stand there. The lesson of the story was that you could not make work place based decisions if you did not know what was happening on the shop floor and the starting point was to learn by watching the work been performed.

 

MBWA is not about an aimless walk around, it needs to be done with a purpose: to listen to people and find out what is going on in real time; to provide positive reinforcement; to communicate the latest company news; and to discover and promote ideas for improvement. Along with trust built from upward feedback tools and other team working methods, teams embrace their manager’s presence positively as a visible sign of support and appreciation of their everyday demands.

 

2. Set a Vision and Communicate It

All companies have strategic plans; hopefully you will get overviews and progress reports every time there is an annual general meeting. Great managers are able to take the strategic plan and specifically the vision for the business, and translate it so it becomes meaningful for their employees. Too often this is left to the PowerPoint slide master to accomplish. By that I mean all the info is put on a PowerPoint and sent out to everyone in the organisation, in the vain hope that it will be understood (if at least it gets read). That is not communication, and in fact that is downright disrespectful to your employees. Great managers take the time to discuss the vision and the strategic plan with their employees, what it means, how it affects them and what they the employees are required to do to execute the strategy and achieve the vision. Discussing the vision with employees is also a great way of understanding what concerns people may have or how they feel in general about the vision and the direction the company is taking.

 

3. Providing Positive Reinforcement

Most people need to be acknowledged for their efforts and receive recognition for the work that they do. If the only time that takes place is during performance appraisal time then it’s way too late. Findings of both the Hewitt and Gallup employee engagement surveys highlight the strong link between recognitions and praise to employee engagement. When you take this into consideration then you have to acknowledge that providing positive reinforcement in a way that is meaningful to each individual for those actions and results that you desire in an employee, is a no brainer.

 

4. Open time

Busy-ness can often be interpreted as a sign of importance or even value; that is, “I am so busy because I have so many things to do.” My take is different, If you are a busy manager then you are either doing the work of others; you are disorganised; or you have bought into a culture where “busy” is perceived to be important (or worse still some combination of all three!)

What I continually find astounding is that managers can find the time to fight fires or intervene when things go wrong, but cannot find the time to be involved in continuous improvement or value adding activities.

One of the things great managers do is find the time to meet with the people who work for them – not just via management by walking around themselves, but by scheduling time to be “available” for anyone of their employees to meet. I call this open time; a time set aside in your calendar where you are in your office but available to meet with anyone who wants to see you with out making an appointment. It is a time where employees feel they can engage you one on one without worrying about disturbing you in any way.

 

In conclusion, good management is not complex, however it does require the discipline to focus on some simple behaviours in a consistent fashion. Specifically, get out, meet and listen to your people, translate the company’s vision for them, recognise them when they do what you want and finally make time for your people.

Posted in Business Management

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