Dave Lee suggested I apply the criteria I developed for "vetting our use of ID models" to business contexts. In this post I explore how managers could utilize these same criteria and then realize numerous benefits.
1. Avoids a misdiagnosis of a need for increased accountability and corrective action. Problems with a lack of motivation or initiative are often misdiagnosed as a need to "turn up the heat". Increased accountability pressures usually backfire. Problems with misconduct, mistakes and apparent betrayals are usually interpreted as a need for corrective action to stop the person in their tracks. This also yields unintended retaliation or backstabbing. These problems often disappear with added listening, understanding and collaboration -- not with costly accountability measures or corrective action.
2. Learns from each team member. When managers fail to learn from their people, they are kept in the dark by those who could give them an essential heads-up. Managers, who discover what they do not know, get trusted, respected and kept in the loop. They learn about different viewpoints, priorities and past experiences of their people. They debrief setbacks in a way that uses them as lessons for everyone. Debriefing mistakes results in more insight, preventative efforts and awareness of potential problems. Managers who learn from each team member find themselves surrounded by "a bunch of copycats" who learn continually too.
3. Responds to each subordinate uniquely. When team members are treated as insignificant, replaceable and "no different from the others", they respond in kind. They check their brains at the door, leave their creativity at home and save their initiative until after work. These same people will blossom on the job when treated as if they are at different stages of professional development, in different relationships and rewarded by different challenges.
4. Improves the process of formulating policies and strategies. Flawed designs for policies and strategies wreak havoc. The policies and strategies will fail to get implemented or result in a bigger expenditure, competitive threat or turnover of talent. Yet it's assumed the design failed in execution, not in planning. When the planning gets critiqued, the processes for formulating the policies or strategies may be too convergent or insufficiently iterative. The process can be revised to consider more alternatives, take a more indirect approach, utilize resistance more effectively, leverage an apparent weakness or launch a pilot project first.
5. Considers the transformation of context. Financial and production pressures typically create a "performance context". Mistakes are only bad and questions have "one right answer". Managers feel justified in saying "my way or the highway" because the dangers are so intense. This creates a "house divided" with first and second class citizens in constant conflict. When a "developmental context" is created by visionary leaders, mistakes are necessary. Questions have many right answers. Managers feel fascinated by the talent they oversee and wonder how to nurture, cultivate and support those gifts. This context creates a bounty of coordination, cooperation, communication, and commitment.
6. Gets the desired outcomes. Managerial effectiveness amounts to "doing what works". It takes the manager becoming a student of the repercussions of actions, decisions and neglect. Pragmatists have the right temperament to get desired outcomes. They do not settle for going through the motions, hiding behind the contract or shifting blame to their politically vulnerable colleagues. They constantly wonder how to make a difference, get results and find better solutions.
7. Gets buy-in from senior level executives. There are two ways to manage up: selling out and selling value. Selling out tells the higher-ups what they want to hear to avoid "shoot the messenger" syndrome. Selling value tells the senior executives how they can address their constituencies and benefit from the latest news. Buy-in occurs naturally when we switch from what we're selling to what the others will do with it.