Friday, February 19, 2010

Why be a manager?

Often as I observe managers in various coaching roles or in development workshops I ask myself why some people become involved in management? I read the research and I understand that money is way down the list of performance motivators yet there are times when I cannot help myself from forming a belief that many people become involved in management because (a) it pays more or (b) their ego doesn't allow them to turn down the offer.

How many really understand the role of a manager and what is expected of them? Back in the 1930's the granddaddy of modern management, Henri Fayol developed a set of management principles and activities which have guided managers for the past 80 years. At the same time I believe these same principles and actions, which truthful in what it is managers need to do along the way, have created a management 'thinking' that is flawed.

In 1982 Fernando Flores wrote in his Harvard thesis about conversations, commitments and trust. He was writing about the workplace of the future. The gap between how you think about Fayol and how you think about Flores is a chasm - one that many managers appear unable or unwilling to jump over!

In a recent workshop on decision making where we were exploring Roger Martins model of Integrative Thinking one participant observed, 'all this decision making seems very time consuming'. This person was being truthful, good decision making is time consuming. It involves two or more people in a conversation. To this persons credit she was also open to exploring the possible consequences of taking a short cut approach to decision making. The questions remained at the forefront of my mind. Why would someone who considers decision making conversations to be wasteful and time consuming want to be in a management role?

I believe the prime role of managers is to develop the potential of their team or workgroup and the individuals within that group. Nothing more, nothing less. What does this imply? Firstly the role of manager is to align workgroup activities and outcomes with organisational strategic outcomes. Secondly the role of the manager is to develop the capacity of the team to perform the tasks required to acheive the outcomes. Thirdly the role of the manager is to allocate or delegate tasks to ensure an equitable and effective distribution of work. Fourthly the role of the manager is to monitor implementation, coach people through being effective, review progress and provide feedback. Sure, inside these four groups of management tasks are preparing budgets, creating rosters and a heap of individual tasks.

Are you in a management role? How well can you assess yourself against the following:
1: How well is your workgroup aligned with organisation direction and outcomes?
2: How capable are your people in achieving those outcomes? Do they have the necessary experience, skills, resources and support?
3: How well is work delegated, by firstly yourself, then your supervisors?
4: How well do you monitor progress, follow up, offer support and resources, remove blockages, provide coaching and provide positive constructive feedback?

If you rate yourself as low on any of these four then I recommend you contact me and we can work together to help you develop those four areas of management. If you do not want to be proficient in any of those four areas of management then you need to review the reasons why you want to be a manager.

Are you in your role to develop people to achieve maximum performance and effectiveness or are you in there for the money and to satisfy your own ego? If you are there for the money or for ego then the only person you are serving is yourself. You are greedy and your greed will feed your incompetence. The best people will see through your greed and incompetence and will leave or refuse to work with you. This leaves you only those that don't care - and they will make you look worse still.

Let The Journey Continue
John Coxon

Taking You From Frontline Manager to CEO

Skype: john_coxon
Facebook: johncoxon1
Twitter: john_coxon

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Workplace bullying and harrassment

Bullying in the workplace is endemic. A 2009 survey in the United States found that 37% of workers believed they had been bullied in some manner. Management expert and author, Professor Robert I Sutton believes that workplace bullying is bad for business as it leads to absenteeism, staff turnover and performance issues. That is not rocket science, as a management coach I have witnessed and coached those that have been the victims off, or impacted upon by workplace bullying.

Our schools have had anti-bullying policies and practices in place for years. Why is it when we become 'adults' we forsake such practices? Surely experience would show that even adults experience problems coping with the impact and consequences of workplace bullying. A story in The Age newspaper in Victoria highlighted the extreme consequences of workplace bullying when it reported on the recent death of 19-year old Brodie Panlock. As parents, none of us would want the grief experienced by Brodies family. Yet as adults and parents many of us have at some point engaged in some form of workplace harrassment. When 37% of the workforce believe they have been bullied it would be reasonable to suggest another 37% were involved as the bullies. For every victim there is a bully. That is 72% of the workforce wasting time engaged in an activity that robs people of their dignity and self respect.

It has been suggested by some that workplace bullying is more endemic and has an even greater overall impact than sexual harrassment yet in every workplace there is policies and practices designed to eliminate sexual harrassment. It is difficult to imagine 37% of the workforce having experienced sexual harrassment and this is not meant in any way to belittle those suffering the impact of sexual harrassment.

In 2006 a report by the British Medical Association found that 1 in 4 employees in the National Health Service had experienced some form of bullying while at work. Interestingly 16% of medical staff believed they had been bullied by nurses. Bullying included, belittling people, undermining work, withholding information and imposing impossible deadlines. These behaviours indicate that much workplace bullying results in mental distress rather than physical violence.

A 2009 report into bullying in the Australia health sector reported that as many as 50% of healthcare employees had experienced bullying. Similarly in New Zealand there have been reports of up to 50% of some sectors of healthcare having experienced workplace bullying. Other research has found that less than 37% of those impacted upon actually reported the bullying. This means a lot of people may be running around your organisation suffering the mental anguish from being bullied. Why have they not sought help? Is it because your organisation does not have a clear policy on workplace bullying? Is it because they don't believe they will be helped? Is it because they don't know where to get help?

Have you been a victim of bullying in the workplace? Speak up now. Name and shame the organisation. This is not something to remain silent about. Share your stories and also share with others what you did to seek help and to cope with the impact.

Let The Journey Continue
John Coxon

Taking You From Frontline Manager to CEO
Facebook: johncoxon1
Twitter: john_coxon
LinkedIn: johncoxon