Unemployment is a societal problem; under-employment is an organizational problem. I am referring to employees who are prevented from excelling because of restrictive jobs, bureaucratic policies, and controls on freedom to act. Too often bright and eager people are brought into organizations and encumbered by a system that governs behavior instead of accelerating performance. Even within top teams, I see executives whose real value is not tapped, and others who are allowed to coast. Stop thinking in terms of managing people and performance, and think instead of how to better lead people. What are you doing to get the most out of each person’s strengths and knowledge on a daily basis? What approaches are you using to increase those strengths and knowledge going forward?
The Olympics remind me of upbeat and energized workplaces where there’s talent, focus, energy and enthusiasm. I talk a lot about the need for focus and urgency, because without those, nothing gets done. Organizations that concentrate on grinding-it-out have focus and urgency but they lack energy and enthusiasm and they burn-out talent. If you want energy and enthusiasm, you’ll need more and pizza parties and t-shirts only go so far. The answer varies by organization, but it has little to do with personality profiles or generational differences, and a lot to do with the nature of your workforce.
I am amused by the qualifications stated in job descriptions and want ads. “Must be an excellent communicator,” is the most abused. How many people are excellent communicators? How many people are even excellent listeners (which is arguably the most important skill in communication.) Yet write-ups for call center operators, administrative assistants, engineers, and executives always include this as a ‘must have.’ I don’t know about you, but I honestly haven’t come across many excellent communicators anywhere in organizations, and especially in the senior ranks where it seems communication is all about sending messages out through organizations and rarely encouraging message flow back.
Early in my career I had a conversation with the CEO of a large company during a planning session break. He asked what my degrees were in and I told him an MBA and a Masters in Communications. Then he said something I’ve always remembered: “Communication. Hmmm. That’s about all we do in management isn’t it?”
What are you doing to improve the communication skills of your management team? If you want some ideas, give me a call.