Monday, April 2, 2012

You and your management team are killing your company

Yes, you and your management team are killing your company.

By no means does that mean your company is in imminent danger of collapse or failure, but you must take a hard look at what you are doing to improve your companies long term chance of success.

All too often, I see managers doing what they think is best by toeing the company line by checking the box when it comes to how they manage their teams. From being a gatekeeper regarding information going up or down the management ladder, doing what is required regarding employee evaluations or just hanging out in the corner office and not engaging your team.

By living in the box, you don't see the forest through the trees. You really have no idea what your employees on the front lines are experiencing on a day to day basis. Sure you see the numbers, but you don't see what is really going on. C-level executives never see what is going on because they rarely see the front lines, if they ever even go see what goes on at the ground level. First level managers are too busy fighting one fire after another to truly see what goes on with their people. Middle management tends to act as a go-between.

Here is what you can do to help get through that mess: Meet with your people! Far more often than you are doing now!

If you are C-level, especially in a large company, go meet with your front line workers. I'm not talking by sitting in a room with 200 of them and have a Q&A session once a month or quarter (but if you are doing that now, keep this going). Go on the front lines. Work on the assembly line. Sit in a cubicle with procurement. Engage those workers. They are the ones who know what happens on a daily basis and you need to know what they are experiencing. They have the answers to the problems your company doesn't know it has. Try to spend 8-10 hours a week by meeting and working with these employees. Your time will be well worth it in both the short and long run.

If you are a first-second level manager, not only should you have a brief conversation daily with each of your employees, but you should sit down to review goals and aspirations far more often than once or twice per year (mid-year and end-year reviews). Have a half-hour meeting every two weeks to discuss issues and see how personal and organizational goals are progressing. This keeps those goals front and center and it makes it much more easy to make changes as the year progresses if necessary. In addition, you will have a greater working knowledge of what is going on, and will have to go fight fires less often.

Middle management needs to take a hybrid approach to the above. Meet and work with the front line workers, but also engage regularly with the managers you oversee. Make the changes you learn about from those engagements and meetings, and use your position to make sure those above you are able to make those changes happen. By being actively engaged in your company, you make yourself that much more valuable and more likely to move up to the C-level. Just passing emails back and forth and not getting out there doesn't makes you less valuable to the organization and more likely you have hit your ceiling.

So get out there and engage your people. Checking the box and doing the minimum might be enough to make everyone happy. However, it won't let you be informed and aware of things that could be going on that need your attention can make your company suffer. Engagement can make your company better, make current and potential customers take note and improve your company's long term prospects!

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