By Peter West,2014-11-22 12:12
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    One ofthe first questions new managers askeven ifonly them-selvesis: What am I supposed to

    do now?

    Traditionally, when new managers are provided with an answer to this question (often they aren’t;

    they are simply hired or promoted to manager with no training or direction whatsoever), the answer has been the four classic functions of management that you may have learned in schoolplanning, organizing, leading, and controlling.

     Planning: Running an organization is kind oflike steering a ship on the ocean; to get where you want to go, you’ve got to have a plan—a map—that tells you where you’re headed. It’s the job

    ofmanagers to develop the plans that determine the goals an organization will pursue, the products and services it will provide, how it will man-ufacture and deliver them, to whom, and at what price. These plans include creating an organizational vision and mission and specific tactics for achieving the organization’s goals.

     Organizing: After managers develop their plans, they have to build an organization that can put these plans into effect. Managers do this by designing organizational structures to execute their plans (often building elaborate organizational charts that divide an organization into divisions, departments, and other parts and designate the people who reside in each position) and by developing systems and processes to direct the allocation ofhuman, financial, and other resources. Leading: Managers are expected to lead their employees, that is, to motivate them to achieve the organization’s goals—quickly and ef-ficiently. Leadership is considered by many to be the most impor-tant ingredient for a manager’s success. Great leaders can make great things happen,

    inspiring their employees to do extraordinary things and accomplish extraordinary goals. While these classic functions are still valid, they do not tell the en-tire story. Managers and workers are entering into a new kind ofpart-nership that is forming the basis ofa new reality in the workplace.Today’s managers are discovering that they cannot command an em-ployee’s best

    work; they can, however, create an environment that en-courages employees to want to do their best work. And workers are discovering that, ifthey expect to survive the constant waves ofchange sweeping across businesses ofall types, they have to find ways to con-tribute in their organizations in ways that they have never before been called on to do.

    The new functions of management that tap into the potential ofall employees are:

     Energize: Today’s managers are masters ofmaking things happen.The best managers create

    far more energy than they consume. Suc-cessful managers create compelling

    visionsvisions that inspire employees to bring out their very best performanceand they

    en-courage their employees to act on these visions.

     Empower: Empowering employees doesn’t mean that you stop managing. Empowering

    employees means giving them the tools and the authority to do great work. Effective

    management is the leveraging ofthe efforts ofyour team to a common purpose.When you let

    your employees do their jobs, you unleash their cre-ativity and commitment.


    xecutioners.The key to developing asupportive environment is the establishmen tofaclimate

    of open communication throughout the organization.Employees must be able to express their

    concernstruthfully and completelywithout



     Communicate:Communicationisthelifebloodofeveryorganiza-tion. Information is

    power,and,asthespeed of business continues toaccelerate,informationthe right


    gturbulenceinthebusinessenvironmentnecessitate more communication,not lessinformation

    that helps employees better do their jobs,informationonchangesthatcanimpacttheirjobs,and


    Master these new functions ofmanagement, and you’ll find that your employees will respond with

    increased engagement in their work, improved morale and loyalty, and enhanced productivity. The result is better products and services, happier customers, and a more favorable bottom line. Aren’t

    these all things that you would like to see?


    Wouldn’t it be great ifyou could get the very best from your employees each and every day? Well,

    we have some good news for you: You can get the very best from your employees every day ofthe week. But you can’t

    do it by mandating that your employees give their very best from this day forward, with the occasional pep rally or morale-building meeting,or by threats or coercion. The secret to making this happen is energiz-ing your employeesunleashing the passion and talent that resides deep

    within them.

    What can managers do to help unleash the passion and talent in their employees, in short, to energize them? Here are some suggestions:

    Develop a clear vision for where you want the organization to go,and then be sure to communicate the vision widely and often.

    ; ASK BOBAND PETER: What is the Japanese management style that I’ve heard about?

    Briefly, the core of what is known as the Japanese style of manage-ment comes from an emphasis in Japanese society on building con-sensus in group decision making. In Japanese business (as in Japanese society), the group comes before the individual. Man-agers are, therefore, expected not to command employees but to lead them by consensus. In general, Japanese managers encourage their employees to make suggestions for improvement and to par-ticipate in an organization’s

    decision-making processmuch more than in most American organizations. They take time to

    create buy-in, which then allows them to implement decisions much faster after a decision is made. They also tend to favor the development of long-term relationships and strategies over short-term gain. In his book, Theory Z: How American Business Can Meet the Japanese Management Challenge (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publication Company, 1981), William Ouchi noted the following characteristics of Japanese organizations: lifetime employment (this has become difficult for many Japanese companies in recent years), slow em-ployee evaluation and promotion, nonspecialized career paths, im-plicit control mechanisms, collective decision making, collective responsibility, and holistic concern for the employee as a person. To learn more about this approach to management, pick up a copy of Ouchi’s book, or visit the Japanese Management

    Today web site at

     Ask for and listen to your employees’ ideas and suggestions, and,whenever possible, engage

    them in the process ofimplementing those ideas and suggestions.

Be sensitive to your employees’ needs at work, and ensure that the work environment is

    conducive to your employees doing their best work.

    Don’t be a prisoner to your office;be sure to regularly visit the people who work for you on their turf and to encourage and in-spirethem.

    Be honest and truthful with your employees at all times; don’t sug-arcoat the truth in an attempt

    to soften the blow ofdifficult news.

    When you make a promise, be sure to keep it. At the same time, be sure that you don’t make

    promises that you can’t keep.

    What are you doing to energize your employees? Do you really know what your employees want? Are you responding to your employ-ees’ needs, or are you putting them on the back

    burnereither defer-ring these decisions until later or hoping they go away

    altogether?Remember, employees are your most important resourcea resource that is much

    more productive when it is energized.


    The best (and the most effective) managers realize that they can get far more doneand get it

    done better, faster, and more cost effectivelyby assigning their employees responsibility for

    accomplishing impor-tant tasks and goals, while providing them with the authority that they need to carry out those tasks and goals. It’s not enough to assign a goalemployees must also be

    empowered to accomplish it. Here are some simple approaches to empowering your employees: Put power in the hands of the people doing the work. The employ-ees closest to customers are in the best position to know what cus-tomers really need and, therefore, are in the best position to make decisions that have a direct impact on their customers.

     Encourage individual responsibility for their contributions. The flip side ofputting power in the hands ofthe people doing the work is requiring employees to take responsibility for the quality of their work. When employees are trusted to play an active role in their organization’s leadership,

    they’ll naturally respond by taking a personal interest in the quality oftheir work.

     Create clarity of roles. Before employees can be comfortable and effectively share leadership duties with others, they first have to be given clearly defined roles so that they know exactly what they are responsible for, as well as what others are responsible for.

     Share and rotate leadership. By moving people in and out ofposi-tions ofleadershipdepending

    on their particular talents and in-terestsyou can tap the leadership potential that resides within

    every employee, particularly those employees who aren’t a part of the organization’s formal

    leadership hierarchy.

     Seek consensus (and build creative systems that favor consensus).One of the best ways to involve others in the leadership process is to invite them to play a real and important role in the discussions and debates tha tlead to making important organizational deci-sions.Seeking consensus requires time and a hig hlevel of partici-pation and trust,and it results in better decisions tha tare more easilyimplemented.


    While it’s important to empower your employees—to give them re-sponsibility to accomplish

    specific organizational tasks and goals along with the authority they need to accomplish them—it’s not enough to simply make such assignments and then walk away. The best managers support their employees and act as continuing resources to help guide them on their way. Ifyou don’t provide your employees with the sup-port they need, they may decide you don’t

carelowering their trust and respect for youand they may very well engage in activities that

    are counter productive to what the organization hopes to achieve.Here are a number of ways that you can and should support your employees:

    ; ASK BOBAND PETER: What are the best ways for man-agers to improve communication in

    an organization?

    There are two key aspects to improving communication in any orga-nization. First, you must remove the barriers to communication.What are some common barriers? An “us” versus “them” mentality separating workers from management, an overly formal or strict hi-erarchy that discourages employees from bringing their ideas or opinions to the attention of management, and an environment of fear that causes workers to be afraid to try new things are just a few possibilities. Take a close look at your own organization and see which ones you find. Second, you must encourage communication within your organization in every way possible. Require your man-agers to communicate with their staff in a variety of different ways to let them know what’s going on. Be real at all times and deal with things as they come up. Invite regular workers

    to attend manage-ment meetings. Encourage managers to meet informally with work-ers over breakfast or lunch. Ask employees to make their opinions and suggestions for improvement knownand reward them when they do. Launch cross-functional teams of employeesfrom all

    lev-els of the organizationto work together to solve problems. If you take this two-step

    approach, you’ll go a long way toward improving communication in your organization.

     Have frequent, personal contact with each of your employees. Your employees won’t feel that

    they have your support ifyou don’t inter-act with them on a frequent basis. Some employees need

    more in-teraction than others, so it’s your job to determine how much to provide, to whom, and

    how often.

     Recognize the true potential of your employees. Take time to assess and help further develop your employees’ skills and interests,hopes, and dreams while correcting any shortfalls that they

    may have. Help employees plan pathways to success within the organi-zation, giving them personal goals that they can strive for.

     Act on employee ideas and suggestions. It’s one thing to ask em-ployees for their ideas and

    suggestions; it’s another thing altogether to put those ideas and suggestions to use in your


    Doing so not only can make your organization more effective, but also clearly demonstrates your support to your employeesa mes-sage that they will hear loud and clear.

     Take time to ask employees what they really think about their jobs and about the leadership they receive from you and other man-agers. Learning that employees are unhappy in their jobs or with their management team is oflittle use after an employee quits to take a job with another employer. It is critically important to get candid feedback from employees about their jobs and then to act on it whenever it is in the best interests ofthe organization.

     Respect your employees, and treat them as valuable members of your team. Employees know when you don’t respect them or con-sider their opinions to be ofvalue to the organization, and

    they will act accordingly when confronted with that realizationbecoming demoralized,

    lowering their productivity, and perhaps even work-ing against the goals oftheir employer. Involve employees in making decisions that directly affect them.While not every decision should involve every employee, you’ll get far better buy-in and engagement when you give

    employees the op-portunity to have an impact on decisions that directly affect themimproving

the ultimate result and your bottom line.

    Studies show that the one person who has the most influence on an employee is his or her boss. One ofthe main reasons talented employees leave organizations is that they feel they are not being supported by their managers. Don’t allow this to become the reason that talented em-ployees decide to leave your organization.

    If there’s one place where a great number ofmanagers fail, it’s in the area ofcommunication. They

    don’t set up effective communications sys-tems and processes in their organizations; they don’t

    encourage (or de-mand) their employees to communicate better with one another; and they themselves are ineffective communicators. But, in today’s business-at-the-speed-of-light

    environment, good communication is not just something nice to haveit is absolutely

    essential.Are you an effective communicator within your organization? Here are some ways to improve your communications:

     Regularly inform management of your employees’ real feelings,opinions, and ideas about important organizational issues. Man-agers must have the best information possible when making deci-sionsflawed information often results in flawed decisions. This means

    communicating the real feelings, opinions, and ideas of your employees to your own managersproviding them with informa-tion that is not colored by your own biases. Involve all of your employees in the decision-making process. While it may be easier for managers to make decisions themselvespar-ticularly decisions that have the greatest impact on

    an organiza-tionbetter decisions often result when you involve all of your employees in the process. Ask for their input and use as much of it as you can.

     Avoid blaming others when you have to give bad news to your em-ployees. How many times have you heard a manager say something like, “I fought against this new policy, but it was out

    ofmy hands,”only to later find out that he or she really didn’t fight the decision but simply went

    along with it? It happens all the time. Instead of passing the buck, managers should be brave enough to honestly make their own views knowneven ifthey just go along with what their

    managers decide.


    ; John Lennon once reportedly said: “Life is what you do when you’re making other plans.”

    The same can be said of managing.Most every manager can share stories of a well-planned

    day or week that became completely consumed by a crisis of some sorta glitch in

    production, a complaint by a key customer, an em-ployee’s personal problem, to name just a

    few. Good managers know the importance of being flexible and focusing on those things that

    have to get done. At the same time, they try to learn from what happened to help prevent the

    same problem from re-curring needlessly. This is a dance that must be learned: Keep at those

    things that need to be done while handling those things that have to be done, all while

    maintaining your sanity in the process!

     When dealing with a difficult situation, have a face-to-face discus-sion instead of sending a memo or e-mail message or leaving a voice mail message. Sending someone a written note or message or leav-ing a voice mail message is a far less personal way ofcommunicat-ing than simply speaking with someone face to face, and it often results in misunderstandings on the part ofthe person who re-ceives the message. In difficult situations, face-to-face communi-cation requires courage on the part ofthe manager, but it will result in better communication. Do not let your own opinions and points of view interfere with hearing what someone else is

saying. It’s natural for managers to allow their opinions about othersthe way they speak, look,

    or dress, or their reputation in the organizationto create biases that get in the way

    ofcommunication. While it’s easier said than done (but no less important), it is important for

    managers to neutralize;such biases and to be completely open to what their employees say. So, how did you do? Ifyou have work to do in the communication department, we have good news for you—it’s the focus ofChapter 12 of this book.


    Being a manager today requires more than a casual acquaintance with human behavior and how to create an environment that will encourage and allow your employees to give their very best at all times. Reflect for a few moments on what you have learned in this chapter; then ask yourselfthe following questions:

    1. Does your personal style ofmanagement incorporate more of the classic functions ofmanagers

    or more ofthe new functions ofman-agers? In what ways?

    2. What do you do to energize your employees (or sap their enthusi-asm)? Are you the type

    ofmanager you’d like to work for?

    3. Would your employees say that they are empowered? Ifnot, what could you personally do to

    change their answer?

    4. In what visible ways do you support your employees? Would your employees agree with your

    response? Why or why not?

    5. Do you communicate openly and honestly with your employees? If not, what do you hide

    from them, and why? Remember, they can’t read your mind, and you don’t want them to have

    to try!

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