- accepts conventional company wisdom without question; for example, “we always promote from within”
- acts too slowly when changes are needed now
- tolerates subordinates who are ineffective, hinting at improvements needed instead of taking decisive action
- doesn’t challenge the way things are done, for example, this is “the way we have always done it”
- doesn’t handle priorities
- doesn’t takes calculated risks, lack of “boldness, nerve, and self-confidence”
- doesn’t ask for help or advice when needed
- doesn’t recognize own weaknesses
A pretty good instrument to measure the effectiveness of managers could be made from this list. Let me address one area: handling priorities.
We live in workplaces where increasingly we have to do more with less. Technologies sometimes increase workload where one might think workload should decrease. Organizations downsize but the work remains. Is it any wonder that in this environment our days are filled with the busywork of staying afloat?
As a young manager I found my days fully occupied with solving problems, making decisions, communicating, and so forth. But one evening I was reading Peter Drucker’s Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices and I realized I was not doing my job. Nobody noticed and probably no one would ever notice – but I was not thinking about where I wanted to lead my part of the organization. The next day when I came to work, I asked my secretary to hold all calls. I spent the day in my office letting the busywork pileup while I drank coffee, Dr. Peppers, and thought about what we were really about. I came up with direction, a vision of where I wanted us to go, and how we might get there. At our next meeting I bounced the ideas off my teams and they agreed. Over the next year we focused more on effective, meaningful training. With better skill sets came more success at our primary mission. Together we made an impact.
I had not been handling my real priorities, leading and visioning. It was hard to find time at first and only got harder as I climbed the ladder. When it was impossible to take a day during my work week, I made it a Saturday. After one Saturday thinking about the organization and after having conversation with my teams, I presented our ideas to my boss. He liked them but was amazed, “How on earth did you find time to do this?”
If you understand your priorities, you make time -- at work and in life.
Skinner, W., & Sasser, W. E. (1977). Managers with impact: verstile and inconsistent. Harvard Business Review, 55(6), 140-8.
Image by Mohamed_hassan. Obtained from https://pixabay.com/vectors/overthink-question-doubtful-7185863/
Modified from my blog, 10/29/2012. © John Ballard, PhD, 2023. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace “Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018. Available as ebook, hardback, paperback, audiobook, and audio CD. The best-selling audiobook, and CD, are narrated by Timothy Andrés Pabon.