This is Mike, a Manager at a mid-sized company. He’s exhausted; weary of soul and spirit.
In charge of a department of twelve, he bears ultimate responsibility for his unit’s performance or lack thereof. He’s played this role for ten years and is now trapped by his own success – the unit can’t function without him. Mike is proof-reader, quality controller, chief negotiator and chief accounting officer, all at the same time.
A while ago I studied for project management exams and a concept caught my attention which Mike urgently needs – Management by Exception. Essentially it states that a company cannot run effectively by micro-management. Instead, managers should define the scope within which team members may operate and then step in only when they go out of scope, not before.
Managers must learn this art, or else they’ll be stuck overseeing minutiae, never moving on to bigger and better things. The company won’t be able to afford to let them grow, because if they change roles, everything will unravel.
To solve this problem as a manager, ensure every process or person you manage has a clear job description, budget, milestones, output and timeline. That way, you only track output, giving the team breathing space to work until they get to each milestone.
Eventually, your star team members will come to the fore – those who repeatedly attain milestones with minimal default. You can then extend the time lag between milestones, spending less time supervising and more time on broader strategy.
You must strongly penalise those who miss milestones. They eventually drag down the productivity of the entire system, frustrating achievers.
Also keep a scoresheet or leaderboard of attained milestones so the entire team can see how they’re doing relative to each other. Competition is healthy and name & shame works. Keeping score also reduces resentment when you promote star achievers. It’s clear they deserved it.
At some point you’ve also got to take critical stock of which team members have administrative capacity and can be groomed to take on your job while you move to other areas of growth.
I hope these tips help. I’d like to know some of your techniques for managing people. Please share.
I wish you success.