Friday, May 20, 2011

one thing I hate...

The other day someone referred to me as a manager and reminded me that I needed to do a better job of managing a paticular process within my College. When I heard myself referred to as a manager, I realized that is something I hate. king works better for me. Here are a few reasons why I think I hate being referred to in that manner:

  • Managing is about planning, directing, controlling and organizing - do I REALLY want those words on my tombstone to describe the impact I had on the world?

  • Managing is about getting the job done right and on time - all very important functions, but again, do I really want those words on my tombstone? Don Christian: 1959 - ????: He got all of his paperwork done on time.

  • I have yet to find a book entitled "Managers who Changed the World" or "Great Managers of the Civil War."

  • When people say that they are managing, they are referring to getting by - I want to do more with my vocation (and my life) than just get by.

  • Managing the processs means getting the work done - while I always want to get the work done, what I want more is to get the next work started.

  • Managers who get promoted to leadership positions often fail due to The Peter Principle - the world does not need more people who lead by managing.

  • Managers get promoted because they do things right - I would rather be known for doing the right things.

  • Managers get promoted because they don't make mistakes - I would rather be failing more often because I have gone out on a limb to try something new.

  • Managers take great pride in a well designed process - I get more excited with a well-thought out project.

Perhaps in this discussion of my lack of "good management" my pride was more wounded than I thought it might be. As I reflected on this discussion, I realized that this ability to not manage well had little to do with my ability to manage - and more to do with outside factors that affected my ability to manage. So when managers (and leaders) begin to get frustrated at how others manage, consider the following factors:

  • is the lack of proper management an issue with the person or an issue with the process?

  • is the lack of proper management due to changes in other personnel or processes?

  • is the lack of proper management a time issue or a capacity issue?

  • have I fully explored with this person why they believe they are not managing the processs well?

  • if the lack of proper management is an issue with multiple people (i.e. many people making the same mistakes), look to the process before anything else

  • if the lack of proper management is a new issue in the organization, what has happened to cause this that might not have been happening in the past?

  • is the lack of proper management a training issue?

  • is the lack of proper management an attitude issue?

My advice is go and talk with the person who is not properly managing, explain the situation, explore ideas as to why this might be occuring, offer guidance to help solve the problem, and then give them time to fix it. And if this is a slight blip in their performance, realize that there are other ways to handle management issues. Burdening your best performers with management issues they do poorly and that take away their energy to lead (and manage other areas of their portfolio) wastes their time and yours. Sometimes the best way to manage those who fail to perform strongly in a certain area is to minimize their management of that issue. Not everyone does everything well - just becasue it is in the job description does not mean that a certain manager will be able to perform that particular task at a high level. What do you value - great management or great people? I know where I land on this topic...and I know what I hate about it also.

1 comment:

Terry L. Burris said...

I think many leaders have management responsibilities that they must perform well or they should delegate. If you know management is not your bag, then you must have good managers under you to get the day-to-day minutia done.