We often see articles condemning management’s procrastination, scheduling of meetings, identification of generalized-vs.-SMART objectives for their teams, and even its habit of being away from the office when team members need assistance.
These traits are normally viewed as destroying the average manager’s effectiveness and wasting the precious time of the modern workplace. I would agree that each of these traits, when viewed in isolation, can be a problem. However, if we can view these traits as parts of a whole — as parts of your professional approach toward management — then we can see them as very positive tools in establishing the effectiveness of your group.
Let’s step back and take a second look at each of these often maligned management traits:
This is often considered to be the antithesis of efficiency. It can affect actions that you have been asked to take, or ones that you have identified yourself as necessary. Maybe the action has been on your to-do list for weeks, but it never seems to crack the top 10 that you attack with passion each day.
So, why isn’t the task getting done? Could be that it’s just not that important, or that you have some hesitation in going after it. Maybe there may be some potential negative consequences that must first be separately evaluated before you are comfortable in pursuing the task.
Whatever the case, you should face the issues associated with your delay, decide why the task is not getting done, and communicate your observations to whomever may have been interested in the task. It is the highest mark of management efficiency to properly prioritize your group’s tasks, to communicate those priorities, and to delegate effectively to get them accomplished.
2. Scheduling of Meetings
Everyone these days seems to condemn meetings as a waste of time. Why tie up your entire group to pass along company or project-related information that can be handled through other more efficient means, such as email? In particular, why must all employees sit through a round-table discussion of each individual team member’s activities?
Email is so overused now that it is not uncommon for an employee to receive upwards of 50 emails each day at work, and the common survival practice is often to open and read only those messages that seem directly applicable to one’s ongoing activities, or those sent directly from one’s boss. That means each team member can be isolated from important company information, benefits changes, and other team member activities that may affect their projects. (After all, we are also told to limit distribution lists for our emails and to refrain from using “reply to all” to improve efficiency!).
A brief, regularly-scheduled team meeting brings all team members together and allows them to focus attention on issues important to them and to the company as a whole.
3. Generalized-vs.-SMART Objectives
Most companies have now adopted very structured SMART processes for defining how employees are to be evaluated. Most management training promotes SMART goals as great things, and most companies have adopted the practice.
In fact, SMART goals are powerful tools in many cases. However, as all management and team members know, any goals that you establish at one point in time will undoubtedly change, be eliminated, be significantly altered, or be replaced by other goals as the year progresses. There is an argument to be made that more generalized goals will establish the framework of progress for each employee, while allowing flexibility and accuracy in evaluations of progress.
For example, a goal such as “Provide required technical support to the Project X team to achieve project schedule objectives” is really the true scope of your employee’s work. Why redefine the specific schedule dates for specific schedule activities in each project team’s objectives listing when your employee is not in direct control of them?
4. Being Away From Your Office
I’ve seen management criticized for being difficult to find when employees may need some assistance or direction. The team members may be frustrated when they can’t discuss issues with their managers at any time during the workday.
However, one of management’s key roles is to facilitate one-to-one informal contact between management, team members, and other associated company teams to ensure that everyone has the information they need for efficient workflows to continue. This is the tried and true “management-by-walking-around” approach. Even in this age of immediate communication, the importance of this personal contact cannot be overstated, and it has been effective for many years.
Someone recently commented that you can’t read the label unless you step outside of the jar. In a similar fashion, you can’t evaluate the effectiveness of specific management practices unless you can view them in the overall context of the results achieved by the organization. So, when the naysayers criticize your management tactics, ask them to “step outside” before passing judgement.