An alarming number of people leave their jobs because of bad managers, according to a recent report from Gallup. This is bad news not just for the unhappy employees but for the organizations who lose good resources. Management has been around for a long time, so why are people still so bad at it?
Being bossy is not how to be a boss
Many people seem to be under the illusion that management is about telling people what to do. This can happen even when nobody has a clear idea about what has to be done in the first place. This kind of attitude is a vestige of the command and control mentality that has dominated management for many years. The truth is, we have evolved beyond that model, and management needs to catch up.
Promotion to manager is the only way to have a career
Another problem in organizations is that when people are good at their jobs they get promoted to manager, even when they are not suited for a management role. If we add to this the fact that many organizations are not designed to optimize flow but are fragmented into functions, then we have managers who are not great trying to be effective against artificial barriers. Not a wonderful world to be in.
Processes versus barriers
An organization is fundamentally one system with a goal. Mapping out the processes of an organization is the most effective way to design and improve all the efforts within the system so they interdepend productively towards delivering the goal. Process mapping can be one of the most illuminating activities for both managers and staff. It helps people quickly see that their system is made up of a series of inputs and outputs. Any artificial barriers or ‘power centres’ will quickly emerge and the task then becomes to modify the organizational design so that the processes do not bump into an unnecessary barriers. This work can be done with a Deployment Flow chart, and this is a tool that can be easily learned and applied.
Everything is a project
The sooner organizations understand that everything they do is a project the better. No matter what ‘department’ someone is in, everything, from closing the books to designing and releasing a new product, is a project that has to be managed. Some projects are repetitive, others are one-off, but they are still projects with resources that have to be completed on time and within budget. In an organization managed as a network of projects, everybody in the organization is a resource, a project manager, and sometimes both. Ultimately, a CEO becomes ‘the project manager of project managers’.
Management skills for 21st century
What are the main things a manager needs to be able to do? As we have stated, they need to be able to manage projects. In our approach, this is done through the Critical Chain method (from the Theory of Constraints) that takes into account finite resources. However, projects are carried out by human resources and there are skills required to manage those resources harmoniously and to good effect. Fortunately, there is a suite of tools available to navigate through the most complex of human environments. Thanks to Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt and Dr. Deming, there are tools for:
conflict resolution (conflict cloud)
giving clear instructions (Transition Tree)
overcoming obstacles on the path to an ambitious target (Prerequisite Tree)
designing a complete strategy (Future Reality Tree)
dealing with negative implications and objections (Negative Branch Reservation)
reducing and managing variation (Statistical Process Control)
These tools, along with Deployment Flowcharts, cover the vast majority of what a manager needs to know, understand and be able to deal with on a practical basis every day. They are there for those who wish to learn them. Organizations will be much happier and more productive places to work in when managers make the effort to acquire these skills.
Sign up to our blog here and shift your thinking towards broader, systemic possibilities for yourself and your organization. Intelligent Management provides education and training on systemic management, W. Edwards Deming’s management philosophy and the Theory of Constraints (Decalogue methodology) in North America and Europe.
About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management and author of the business novel+ website The Human Constraint that has sold in over 20 countries. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore, founder, and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York.