Managing people is always a headache. How do you motivate your staff? Do they always seem to fail to follow your instructions? Do you think that they're either unqualified for the task or just absent-minded?
Not only are these questions that as a manager may have about your staff, but often an interviewer may have these same questions when they're looking to hire new managers. They want to learn about the potential candidate's management potential. Will he or she be effective at leading the team? What if I pass on a task to him, can he get it done effectively and efficiently with his staff?
The writer of a best-selling book series, Timothy Gallwey, gives us an answer that you may think goes against conventional wisdom. To help people perform their best, Gallwey stresses the importance of letting them go. That is, don't tell them what to do or how to do a task. Rather let them try to find the best way for themselves
Gallwey's experience coincides with what I have observed and experimented with in the many senior level people I've dealt with. The greater the "micro-management" style of a senior manager, the less effective he or she is in leading and supervising a team to accomplish their goals and objectives.
As a result of my observations and experimentation, here is the theory I have put forward to many senior management people for effective leadership. To successfully lead a team of people to accomplish their goals, you need to do the following:
1) Clearly communicate your goals and objectives to the people involved;
2) Outline the desired timelines for each task;
3) Assign each team member their individual subtasks with clear due dates;
4) Provide them with the necessary power/authority to accomplish the required tasks;
5) Let them go; and, finally
6) Continually evaluate and measure the progress with your teammates.
Guess what? The most important steps are Steps 1 and 5. Step 1 lets your people know what they have to accomplish and Step 5 gives them room to achieve the goals in their own way.
This is the essence of coaching. You are not giving any solutions or answers to your staff's problems, but rather providing the nourishing platform to allow them to find their own solutions.
Gallwey always emphasizes that we have two selves -- Self 1 and Self 2. Self 1 is the criticizing self that greatly affects our performance. Self 1 is reinforced if we face a serious coach who constantly monitors us and presses us to do what he/she thinks is the right thing to do. If we are constantly anxious about the criticism of Self 1 (and hence the criticism coming from senior managers), we are less likely to reach our peak performance.
Studies have shown that people who work at their peak performance achieve a state of "flow" in their work. That is a state where they effectively forget about themselves and they just work instinctively. We all have had this experience. If we don't worry about how well we are doing something, the more likely we are doing our job better. Agree? This concept applies to sports, as well as your day-to-day work. When we are in the "flow", we are effectively using Self 2 - the self that works constantly to find the best way to solve the problem without indulging in any worries.
The most difficult obstacle that senior managers need to overcome in order to achieve this effective management style is their fear - the fear of being out of control and the fear of failure. They tend to "control" their staff and tell them what is the "right" way or "wrong" way of doing something.
Next time, try to let them go and concentrate on looking at the progress of the whole team rather than what each individual is doing. Be prepared to "coach" them when they come to you for answers. Coach them to come up with their own solutions. You'll find yourself becoming a more loveable and more effective manager. Isn't that your ultimate goal?
For effective coaching, refer to this article:
Coaching - Using It Effectively To Tranform You and Others
By the way, the theory outlined in this article is a good way to respond to an interviewer's question if you were asked how you manage people and how you work to achieve team goals. For more related discussion, refer to my book here:
For Gallwey's book, refer to the bookstore:
To Your Success,
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