Saturday, August 14, 2010

..."Work is the curse of the drinking classes."...

i m off to AS's place for the party!... u enjoy the blog post originally written by our company's President::

...psst... no news of the appraisals yet! :(

Many of my colleagues were concerned at my reaction to what they perceived as “negative” feedback. They needn’t have worried. I’m delighted that many of you cared enough to comment publically. It takes a great deal of courage to volunteer an opinion in the way that more than 50 of you did, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Some of the comments are sobering, and others are misplaced. However, one of our values is to be “straightforward and honest” and I think that many of you who took the time to post are embracing that value fully.

Disengaged Management?
One of the consistent themes of the postings is the limited interaction between managers and their direct reports. Recognizing management as a “role” and not as way of deferring status and additional compensation is a major concern of mine. The role of the manager is critical to the evolution of our company. It is central to our ability to scale and grow. However, it is unfortunate that whilst many managers want to stimulate the development of highly-engaged employees they do not see themselves as active players in the process.

Sometimes, this comes from a mistaken idea that an employee should be totally self-motivated. Other times, it comes from the view that the “company” is responsible for employee engagement. In this context, I’m not sure who the “company” is. In fact, employees should be self-motivated, but the manager or supervisor plays the key role in setting the climate for that motivation, and for employee engagement.

I can't overstate this point.

If a manager wants his or her team to be motivated and engaged, it is very likely that he or she will have to change. If they don't, any team is doomed to failure. If you look at teams in other contexts, you will quickly realize that leadership determines success. A sports team has a coach. A symphony orchestra has a conductor. These teams don't spontaneously develop without effective leadership; they develop and grow with the help and guidance of a leader whose job is not to control, but to teach, and encourage; and – when necessary – organize. A good way to describe the role of the manager is that of a catalyst, a force that causes things to happen for other people, and for the team.

Managers as Catalysts for Improvement
Some success factors that enhance a manager’s ability to perform his or her role well include:
1) Highly developed inter-personal skills
2) An understanding of basic psychology regarding what makes people engage and perform
3) The capability of balancing between tasks (getting the job done) and people (ensuring that team members are satisfied with the process of getting the job done)
4) A willingness to listen and ability to communicate – Managers must have a preference to listening and understanding, rather than controlling and talking
5) Demonstration of a sustained commitment – Managers must commit themselves to the team, and not give up when the going gets rough, or success is slow to come
6) Consistent behavior – Managers must behave in a consistent manner regarding team work because managers who sometimes encourage team process, and then sometimes bypass the team, confuse the hell out of everyone
7) Walk the talk – A team takes its cues from the manager; you cannot break inter-personal rules, fail to listen, and use autocratic prerogatives, and still expect members of your team to believe that you really value working together
8) The ability to deal with the problems of team members – Sometimes a team does not have the internal resources to deal with a member that is uncooperative, or so unskilled in group behavior, that he or she becomes a barrier; a manager must be able to coach when necessary, problem-solve, establish consensus, mediate and –ultimately – deal with the problem

To practice these skills, the manager needs – first and foremost – to engage. This is a first step in any relationship, and yet it’s the biggest mistake that I think managers within our company make. I have weekly staff meetings with my direct reports. I also have a two-day face-to-face quarterly review. How many managers ensure that they have the same level of interaction with their direct reports?

Managing for Effective Engagement
Many of the managers I’ve spoken with have said that they have too many direct reports – particularly those managers who have responsibility for staffing, or our hourly-paid employees. Whilst I empathize with the challenge, I also believe that in these circumstances managers need to be proactive, work smart and appoint team leaders who will share the load and responsibility for “managing” the team.

Since my last blog, I’ve asked a number of managers how much time they spend with their direct reports. The responses I’ve received have been disappointing, and yet extremely revealing.

Most managers don’t have formal staff meetings. Nearly all the managers I’ve spoken with don’t gather their teams after the quarterly briefings, to reinforce key messages. When company announcements are made (e.g. organizational changes, corporate initiatives, etc.) most teams do not get together to discuss these important issues. It is no wonder that we have a communication challenge in this company; when our managers are not talking to their direct reports.

I urge all of you who have direct responsibility for people within Tata Technologies to reflect on your performance as a manager. If you don’t have staff meetings, then start having staff meetings. If you don’t have time set aside to interact with your direct reports every week, plan to do so. Take responsibility for solving many of the problems that were raised following my last blog posting. My job is to create the environment in which you, as managers, can effectively execute your responsibilities.

It’s your job to manage!

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