Managing for Autonomy

If we want engagement, and the mediocrity busting results it produces, we have to make sure people have autonomy over the four most important aspects of their work:
  1. Task – What they do
  2. Time – When they do it
  3. Technique – How they do it
  4. Team – Whom they do it with.
After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom – fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals.
Daniel H. Pink
Want to learn how to manage for autonomy?  Get in touch.

Focussing On Deviance and Missing Beauty

I often meet managers who are obsessed with plans and performance.  As a result they tend to focus on deviance.  Things that go wrong, that don’t meet the plan.

As a result they find it hard to see and acknowledge the good stuff.  The vast majority of their feedback is about problems and they fail to acknowledge or even see the good work that is done every day.

If you need convincing that you only see what you are looking for try this video for size.

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Conducting and Leadership

Find yourself half an hour and wathc ths wonderful video to learn about leadership from conductor Itay Talgam.

Looks at various conducting styles and teaches profoundly while entertaining!

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Carmine Coyotes Hits Nail on Head – Again

What is the true value of creativity to organisations?

Just read this post!

And then reflect on what you do to suppress or promote creativity.

Remember that your team is a perfectly evolved repsonse to YOUR management style.

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Its All About the Relationships, Stupid!

One of the basic assumptions behind my work in the Progressive Managers’ Network is that excellent performance depends on excellent relationships.  Relationships that are characterised by:

  • engagement
  • honesty
  • 2-way communication
  • creativity and innovation from everyone
  • development and progress

And still the most common objection that I face in my training?  “Mike I haven’t got time to spend building relationships.  I just need to get them to do as I ask.”  The longer term pursuit of excellence is consistently hi-jacked for the short term acceptance of mediocrity.

Great post here from Carmine Coyote which provides some clues about why getting relationships right really matters.

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Holding Difficult Conversations at Work

Much of my work is about providing managers with safe and effective ways to have conversations that they would instinctively prefer to avoid.  Conversations about behaviours and approaches that don’t contribute towards excellent performance.

If they do choose to address the issue most managers have to force themselves to say things, to use words and phrases that are not (yet), a part of their everyday management vocabulary.

There is a great post here by Steve Roesler that offers some useful and practical insights into getting these difficult conversations right.

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Change is Good

I have just come across a really good online video, thanks to Phil Gerbyshack, called Change is Good.  It seems to sum up so many of the principles that I try to teach people how to practice in my PMN workshops.  (There are still someplaces left on Giving and Getting Great Feedback on 20th May in Leeds).

The film is only a couple of minutes long but contains so many great hints, tips, reminders and pointers to profound truths that should have immense implications for personal and organisational change.

Why not show it at your next team meeting and see what reactions, suggestions and feedback it elicits.

The video has a soundtrack – but still works if you are not sound enabled!

Change Is Good – The Movie

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What Can We Learn From The Apprentice?

This is the title of a piece in a LinkedIn conversation.  Here is my perspective:

I think we need to be careful about what we learn from The Apprentice and other reality shows in the ‘business genre’.

‘Cost control’ is paramount in some organisations and in really simple tasks that only have to work in the very short term.  Keep costs low and con your way to a victory.  As long as you can keep finding new ‘marks’ you will be ok.  In the real world, appropriate investment and tolerance of ‘failure’ in the right market experiments is vital if you are looking to encourage creativity and innovation.

We could learn from The Apprentice that lying, backstabbing and cheating work.  As does staying off the radar for as long as possible.  All great tactics for having an ‘OK’ career in a traditional bureaucracy, but not what I would recommend to many of my clients who are interested in exploring their potential though and doing ‘good’ work.

Why do so many bureaucracies still reward such behaviour?  Because they are too scared of sacrificing the short term gains that they achieve in order to build long term value.  Managers often lack the courage, or do not know how, to do what is right.  I meet this situation OFTEN – especially in sales teams!  I also meet a lot of sales trainers who train this type of approach!  In fact I have seen highly successful teams that specifically recruit to this mode and just cull the worst performers every year.  It works a treat to shift units.  The costs in distorted and broken lives are externalised – so who cares….

What we can learn from The Apprentice depends very much on what we are trying to do and what ideas, models and values we use to frame it with.

My worry is that for anyone who has not been involved in ‘business’ they just learn that we are lying, cheating, money grabbing, backstabbing, environment wrecking, delusional dummies.  That business is about snake oil salesmen and the short term pursuit of cash and profit over any other value.

For aspiring ‘business people’ who just want material rewards as quickly as possible I think it legitimises a completely inappropriate set of behaviours that we should be sniffing out and eliminating.

For many managers it leaves them questioning whether they should maintain their faith in working with good, compassionate caring individuals – or whether they too should recruit from The Apprentice mould.

More perspectives inspired by the Apprentice:

Tre really is on another level

Management, Dragons and Apprentices

“Partnership working?” What the hell is Partnership working”?

This has been my favourite tweet of the last 24 hours!

It caused me to pause and reflect.  It made think about how poorly it is defined and what a mess most partnerships are.  Many people find it a Herculean proposition to drive change in a single organisation.  What hope for progress in a partnership?

Yet few organisations or individuals can achieve what matters without involving others in some way.  If you need the support, permission, co-operation or resources of others to achieve what matters to you then you will have to work in partnership.

In my experience the best partnerships are formed when each partner:

is very clear and open about their self interest

has enough power to make things happen and is adept at using power to manage win/win negotiations with other partners.

In the worst partnerships, partners:

  • are unclear about their self interest, or keep it ‘under the table’
  • have little power or autonomy either in their own organisation or with partners
  • are inept at negotiating win/wins and partnerships are characterised by slow (if any) progress

My best guess is that if you work in a partnership and progress is slow, you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms.

The solutions:

  • Clarify and ‘go public’ with your self interest – if you are not prepared to go public then you are selfish rather than self interested.
  • Work on building both trust and power so that you can negotiate win/wins effectively and efficiently.

Good leadership and great development for partners can help partnerships to become significantly more effective.

Some people get very uncomfortable with  the idea of negotiating their own self interest rather than ‘co-operating’ and ‘serving’.  There are a lot of reasons behind this.  This article sheds light on some of them.

BGT Still Providing Management Lessons

One of my very early posts featured Paul Potts on Britains got Talent.

Well BGT proves itself to be the reality show of choice for the progressive managers looking to learn.

Forget The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den.  For lessons in authenticity, body language, hidden talent, and managing expectations.

Watch the video on youtube here.