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Managing Your Team: Stop It!

We'd like to lead the way in removing the idea that people can be managed.  It’s mission impossible.  The more you try to manage people the more likely they are to 'rebel against the system'.  If you do achieve direct control of people's behaviour there is a tendency to end up with a team that is unable or unwilling to take initiative and think for themselves.  In most small businesses this spells disaster.  At very least it means the business remains dependent on its senior people for thinking and direction and the business owner will never be able to exit.

Give up on managing people and start to manage systems.  Systems and processes are controllable. They can be defined, measured and managed.  The upside is that most people value a well-developed system because it makes life easier and more rewarding, so they will use it.  By developing a valuable system you get the outcome you ultimately desire - increased productivity and quality performance from your team. Here's how it works.

Most productivity is lost through a lack of focus

The vast majority of people actually want to be good at their job and be recognised as an effective team member.  However, the majority of employees don't actually know what they are meant to be doing from day to day. Give them something to focus on and you will see an increase in their productivity and all-round contribution to the business. Targets, processes and procedures all contribute to achieving focus.  Having clear business goals, and helping the individual be clear about what part they contribute to those goals, is also a critical piece of the puzzle.

Create greater visibility of activity

Establish some way for the team to see what others are doing from week-to-week.  This may be in the form of activity reports, work schedules or other performance reports.  Visibility of activity has a profound affect on a small business. Some of the benefits include:

  • Risk Management:  'Left hand' knows what 'right hand' is doing and there is less chance of activities falling through the gaps
  • Group Accountability:  Invoke the power of group mentality.  Activity reports enable the group members to hold each other accountable for work to be done.
  • Discussion:  Activity reports give people the opportunity to discuss capacity or delivery issues which feeds into ongoing business improvement and pre-empts potential problems before they arise.

Engage people

Effective systems are developed through dialog with your team.  Get their input into the developments that need to take place. Then decide a strategy and communicate the rationale behind the strategy and the steps for implementation.  Consistently repeat the story, philosophy and progress.  This is leadership in action.  When working with clients, we suggest “Say it 10 times they will hear it once”.   You need to constantly reinforce the key messages around what the business is trying to achieve and the steps along the way.  Also continue to gain feedback on how the system needs to be improved to ensure it stays relevant and that team members continue to have a sense of ownership.

How EWO can help:  We can guide you through the entire process of building your system, from conducting team interviews, analysing results, determining a strategy and implementation. We can also do all the work for you if you lack the time or know-how. Contact us for more information.

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