Friday, November 11, 2005

The journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step

Welcome back, fearless reader. The fact that you've come back says a lot about you. I read it to mean that you have some interest in being a better boss, or better managing your boss.... in either case - you are in the right place.

Let me set a couple of ground-rules. First - everything you read here is covered under the "Dragnet disclaimer" about the story being true but the names being changed to protect the innocent (or the guilty, stupid, etc...). Second, with all the bad management going on out there, I cant pretend to guess what is important to you, so I ask for comments, questions, opinions, rants.... whatever.
Third, all the good ideas, tips, tools and useful stuff you may find here is the work of other smart people - I may have re-worded, re-packaged or re-spun it, but it is not mine. On the other hand, if it is unclear, not useful or in any way offensive, then it must be my own intellectual property. Fourth and finally, any opinions I state are mine alone, so dont try to blame or sue anybody else for what I post. Wow... what a load of HR-sounding stuff that was!!!

Now, we get down to business.
The first topic for us to cover is probably the most elusive of all - What does good management look like?
I guess the best answer there is the same as the definition of pornography - you cant explain what it is, but you sure do know it when you see it. Maybe we cant describe it easily because we dont see it enough. If you dig deep in your memory, I'll bet you can recall a manager who treated you right. They gave you opportunities and challenges that let you stretch and grow. They stated the task, conditions and standards for success clearly, offered resources to help you succeed, held you accountable for your results and followed through with the reward when you succeeded. Gee, when I explain it that way, it sounds so simple. But if it is so simple, why do so many managers fail to do it? That is a question for Oracles to ponder.

Let's take a deeper look at how a good manager assigns a task. First, they clearly lay out what the task is so that we'll know exactly what we should be doing. They explain the conditions under which the task is to be done - what tools, resources, etc are needed, and they make sure we have those things. Next, they give us a clear picture of what a successful result should look like (how many, what color and by when). Wrapped around these parts is a clear understanding that they are delegating both the task AND the accountability for getting it done. This means that the task is now ours and we will carry the benefits of success and the burden of failure.

Good managers know this and practice it every day... the rest of us knew it, forgot it and resorted to doing the task oursleves or slamming it into the inbox of a suborinate with none of the steps above - both are probably and unfortunately more familiar to you than the good example. That's a shame! Because in the way we're probably doing things today, we are cheating ourselves of the ability to focus on other tasks more in line with our resonsibilities, and cheating our staff of opportunities to learn and grow. That's the path to organizational and professional obsolesence.

So, now that you know what one facet of good management looks like, what are you going to do? Just reading this Blog isn't going to help you be a better manager... you have to take action to improve. I challenge you to take the first step in our Gureilla war against bad management practices - commit yourself to delegate JUST ONE task exactly as outlined above. When it is complete, ask the person who did it how they feel about it. Odds are that if you have followed the steps above, they will have been successful and will feel pretty good about it. That's the Guerilla way - you have just taken one seemingly simple step that will get the job done AND win the hearts and minds of your people along the way!


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