There's simply no way around it.
If you want a constructive company, one that grows around you and benefits everyone involved, you have to understand how to manage people.
Management is an eternal hot topic amongst business coaches and thought leaders. And although there's some good information out there to help entrepreneurs get started, there's a surprising amount of bad information.
In fact, there are many management tactics that sound good at the outset, but have actually proven to be destructive as companies grow. Worse yet, there are people who continue train these tactics on a regular basis.
Good Intentions, Bad Results
In my 20 years as a consultant, I've encountered a multitude of bad habits I've had to unteach. One example that sticks out in my head is "Management By Walking Around." This widespread management tactic started at Hewlett Packard in the 1970's and is still something business coaches teach today.
If you're not familiar with MBWA, it's basically the idea that spontaneous visits to employees in the workplace are good for morale and innovation. The hope is that this allows managers to interact and receive information instantaneously from team members--thereby improving productivity.
In my experience, however, MBWA tends to do the opposite.
Have you ever had a boss or manager who spontaneously appears behind you to check on your progress?
How'd it make you feel? Kind of like you got hit with a pop quiz right?
I believe this management style causes employees to dread visits from their managers and encourages them to become suspicious, reactive and ultimately distracted from their focus on making their greatest contribution.
The problem is that these surprise meetings often lack a clear definition of results or desired outcomes. This creates a situation where the employee is unsure of how to behave or what they're responsible for reporting.
And that's because there's a fundamental disconnect between the intention of MBWA and the way it's perceived by employees. What originally begins as an exercise in information-sharing and engagement quickly becomes a check-in on productivity and a representation of the manager's distrust of their employees.
This fosters a problematic lack of transparency within the company. Employees become hesitant to take action and more reliant on management for direction. Eventually these people burn out, disconnect from the company's mission and become resentful toward those in charge.
There's a simple way for managers to avoid all of these problems.
Stop walking around and start having intentional meetings with team members. That means holding meetings at a specified time and place. And it means establishing a specific intention and objectives around what the meeting should accomplish.
For big meetings--project kickoffs, monthly or quarterly strategy sessions, etc.--try priming participants with a series of messages leading up to the meeting. These messages should include the intention of the meeting it's desired outcome, necessary preparation for all attendees and any materials to review beforehand. I've found sending messages at two weeks out, one week out, three days out and day-of to be highly effective for engaging meeting participants.
When this happens, employees understand what their role in the meeting will be. They know what's expected of them and they know what to report. Once these meetings become optimized and routine, the stress goes away.
Employees understand their importance and everyone gets on the same page in terms of expectations and vision for the company. Once this happens, the team becomes fully leveraged and momentum comes easily.
If you'd like to hear more common business myths dispelled or need questions about your business answered, join my free weekly webinar.