The 2 Biggest Management Challenges

management challenges
The 2 Biggest Management Challenges

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of sitting on both sides of the management desk.  I’ve managed a lot of people and in the process, mismanaged some of them.  I’d like to think I’ve learned from some of my mistakes.

On the flipside, I’ve been managed and mismanaged by quite a few bosses. I attribute much of my success on the fact that I’ve been managed a lot more than I’ve been mismanaged.  I’m not sure which I’ve learned the most from.

I have learned that in the majority of times, when management failure occurs, it roots from one of two fundamental reasons.

The two management challenges

Knowing when not to manage. In the early industrial days, there were managers and laborers.  The managers were trained or skilled to make decisions and to bark out orders. Laborers may or may not have had a skill, but did what they were told to do. It was basically a subservient role.

As we moved into a knowledge economy, the roles of worker and manager changed significantly.  Most workers today are not just laborers, but intelligent, educated decision makers.  Managers are in a role of viewing things more strategically.  A good manager realizes that she doesn’t necessarily know more than her employee. She simply knows different things and is responsible for different things.

As such, a modern manager has two primary roles:

  1. Provide the team with direction from a strategic view.  When issues arise, provide information on how to proceed from the high-level perspective.
  2. Remove obstacles that her employees cannot remove.  This could include facilitating a decision from a high-level executive or hunting down information when the employee doesn’t have time to do it himself.

 

Knowing how to adjust your management style to the individual.

My wife is an 8th grade math teacher and has often talked about how she adjusts her teaching approach based on how the student learns.  Everyone learns a little differently and she tries to modify her approach to optimize each student’s learning.  My son’s 8th grade math teacher only taught one way – his way.  As a result, my son had trouble learning from him. Fortunately, his mother knew the material.

Managing people is no different.  Just as people learn differently, how we interpret directions and interact with people can be individually unique.

The study of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) has identified that people learn and interact in one of three different ways.  Some people are visually oriented and learn best based on what they see.  Providing visual people with a diagram of a process flow will help them to best understand a complicated process. When soliciting feedback, it is more effective to ask questions like ‘How does this look to you?’

Other people are auditory.  Auditory people are more likely to understand things based on what they hear.  You may provide them a process flow diagram, but they wouldn’t understand it clearly until someone sits down and talks them through it. To verify whether they understand it, a question like “How does that sound to you?” may be more effective.

See my related post: Motivation: Positive and Negative Incentives

Finally, there are kinesthetic people.  Kinesthetic people interpret information based on their feelings. When explaining concepts to them, it’s most effective to base it on how they feel.  When describing a process, Questions like “How do you feel about this?” will work best with them.

Everybody uses all three of these approaches, but most people are dominant in one.  Effective managers listen and observe their team members to find out which approach they are more comfortable with.  They then adjust their management approach and communication style to best fit that person’s learning orientation.

My-way-or-the-highway management approaches are far out of date.  And the days of employees being directed on every task have expired as well.  It turns out that we DO pay employees to think.  Modern day managers must determine how to manage modern day employees if they want to achieve success in the modern age.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms. 

Related Posts
Feedback Loops through the One On One
Managing teams in any environment is a challenging undertaking.  You’re trying to accomplish some goal as a team. But each member of the team has their own individual goals that ...
READ MORE
Consulting Skill: Getting Others to Communicate
  One of the most critical consulting skills is communication.  A good consultant needs to know when to communicate, when not to, and the most effective way to do it when ...
READ MORE
Is It Bad To Be a Bossy Woman?
There has been a lot of talk about bossy women lately.  Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is leading a formidable group of successful women, including Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts CEO ...
READ MORE
Do You Manage Your Team Like a Bowling or Baseball Team?
If you ask any manager, he or she would most likely tell you they manage a team.  Some will go as far as to tell you that they’re not a ...
READ MORE
On Being Bold: Step on the Gas
A few years ago, I purchased a classic car – a 1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 convertible.  It’s been a fun car to drive around town on nice summer days.  It’s ...
READ MORE
Do You Have Too Much Reliance On Process?
I remember growing up, watching my mother put recipes together.  She was meticulous in making sure that her measurements were exact.  And the meals she prepared were predictably consistent. A reliance ...
READ MORE
Letting Knowledge Walk out the Door…Willingly
It’s good to have a subject matter expert on your team.  A good SME is a resource that virtually every other member of your team can rely on for valuable ...
READ MORE
Contrasting Middle-School Management Styles
Like millions of kids out there, my son is just winding down the school year.  He’s a good student but also a free spirit and sometimes goes beyond his limits ...
READ MORE
Motivation: Positive and Negative Incentives
When I was in high school, I had a fantastic U.S. History teacher.  He had us subscribe to Time Magazine and we were required to read an editorial from the ...
READ MORE
Bossing Around: The Next Best Thing to Leadership
Over the years, I’ve worked under many management styles. I’ve reported to managers that were so command and control that I questioned every decision I made, wondering if I was ...
READ MORE
Feedback Loops through the One On One
Consulting Skill: Getting Others to Communicate
Is It Bad To Be a Bossy Woman?
Do You Manage Your Team Like a Bowling
On Being Bold: Step on the Gas
Do You Have Too Much Reliance On Process?
Letting Knowledge Walk out the Door…Willingly
Contrasting Middle-School Management Styles
Motivation: Positive and Negative Incentives
Bossing Around: The Next Best Thing to Leadership