Wednesday, November 20, 2013

White Knuckle Management




My Mom was always a “white knuckle flyer”. She used to walk around in an ascending state of fear as a trip approached, mumbling to herself and completely distracted. I could have painted my room purple and killed the dog, and she wouldn’t have noticed. Once, she asked a stewardess (it was the seventies) if it was possible to get a second seat belt. She gripped those armrests with all her might and truly, her knuckles were milky white the entire time. I swear, I know some managers who seem just as terrified of their own jobs. And while it is perfectly fine to admit a fear of flying, can we make it just as OK to admit a fear of management? There’s a great book called, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. This definitely applies to management.

Is this you? Are there aspects of management that fill you with terror? And it’s your scary little secret? You’re not nuts; you’re smart to be afraid. It IS dangerous out there. But first, you have to admit this to yourself. (And maybe others, but that comes later). Then what can you do about it?

The right person in the right job. Nothing matters more. When you don’t feel confident about delegating decision-making to others, that’s a huge problem. The solution? Become great at hiring. Or at least, improve. There are thousands of resources online. And books, of course. And experts and workshops and management courses. Peter Drucker said that the job of a manager is to coordinate the actions of others in order to deliver results. I love that.

Try letting go of some control. When you have the right staff in place they want to do their jobs. They’re itching to show you how good they are and to earn your approval. When you believe that you have the right people in place you can loosen your grip. Write this on the blackboard 100 times: I cannot do everyone’s job.

Get more, better or different information. Do you have a good method for consistent communiction with your staff? Are you asking the right questions? Do you get actionable answers? Do you get the answers fast enough? If you can’t answer yes to those four questions, you now have an action plan for the next few months. Fix it.

Lower your expectations. Not a joke. When you delegate more, more mistakes will happen. The “others” will not do everything right. But neither do you. If you don’t shift this, how they will grow, learn and improve?

And how will you?

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