The reality is that the ones who were promoted the highest were the ones who could play the game better than anyone else. That being said I am talking here about the basics of management and to me clarity is central to creating the proper atmosphere to encourage a high performing team to reach their potential.
There is a story of a manager who had a bunch of unmotivated workers. They went about the building as if in slow motion and he could never get a single spark of enthusiasm out of any one of them. He decided that this was simply their individual personalities and he had inherited a particularly difficult bunch of individuals’ that he would have to keep on top of on a constant basis.
As is customary is some large organisations there was a Sports & Social Club and the manager had never attended any of the events they had organised but this time he decided to go along to the Bowling Alley for a game of ten pin bowling. All the company’s staff was there including his crew.
He could not believe his eyes, his work team were all there, they were laughing, they were cheering, they were giving each other high fives when one of them had a great shot, they concentrated intently and showed a desire to win that he would never believed any of them possessed. He wondered how they could be so animated and engaged in the bowling alley and yet they were so despondent at work.
Then it struck him:
In bowling they could see the target, they knew exactly what they were trying to achieve. When they made a shot the machine would tell them how many skittles they had knocked down and they were working together with a common purpose that was clear to all.
In the office they can’t always see the target; in fact there are times when it is behind a number of hidden agendas and conflicting priorities, it is easy to lose sight of it. When they were in work they were seldom told about the work they had completed, rather the focus was on the work they hadn’t done. If the machine in the bowling alley flashed up a message – You missed three – would it be as exciting as being told you got seven?
To get to basic level, you should run your department more like the bowling alley than the office described above. You should have clear targets for the group and each individual; they should know exactly what is expected of them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. They should understand the importance of their role within the team and in the wider company. They should understand the implications a poor performance has on others. They should be encouraged to celebrate their successes and at all times the manager should focus on the positive behaviour rather that always looking for reasons to criticise. In a One Minute Manager book, they encouraged managers to take time off every day to go around the office to catch people doing something right.
There are a series of questions you can ask your staff to see how clear they are about what is required from them and if you are brave enough to get the questions and then even braver to ask your staff to answer them it could give you a few surprises. The series of questions are available on request simply email me on firstname.lastname@example.org with the word questions in the subject & I will gladly send them to you.
I hope you are beginning to see that while the series is called the “Basics of Management” in reality it is anything but. To find out more check out our website www.icmt.ie. Good luck if you decide to implement some of these ideas in your own office, I guarantee it will make a huge difference, not only to the results but also the morale, the atmosphere and the stress levels. Even attendance levels will improve as result of having a team that are properly managed.