Provoked by increasing instances of meeting effective managers without formal management education, I tried figuring out the essentials of managerial effectiveness that do not rely on formal exposure to evolved management concepts (and associated acronyms) but essentials that can be learnt through keen observation and reflective experiences. The exercise involved interviewing several successful managers, reading biographies and critically referencing management books for their self claimed contributions to managerial wisdom. Here is what I got from this enriching indulgence.
All management tasks can suitably be categorized around four key verbs: Finding out, Acknowledging, Solving and Tracking progress. Let us consider each one of these tasks, their key components and commonly observed pitfalls.
- What all data can be considered to understand the situation?
- What are the prevailing perceptions about the situation among different set of stakeholders?
- What are significant unknowns associated with the situations?
- Choosing the wrong or incomplete set of measures to understand the status
- Choosing the wrong data sources and benchmarks for comparisons
- Choosing the wrong information gatherers (ie people with involved interest)
- What is the data telling us on the existing state of affairs? (good, bad, ugly)
- What are the inevitables and alterables associated with the situation?
- What is your own contribution to the present state of affairs?
- Choosing to stay in the state of denial (underestimate the severity of change, emergence of new technology, news competitors, speed of change)
- Choosing the self-serving explanation for the situation (blaming others!)
- Choosing to embrace helplessness and fatal attitude (Let it be!)
- What is the unified view of the exact problem we are trying to solve?
- What is the appropriate decision making approach? (Group based, Solo!)
- What is the approach to engage stakeholders in managing situation?
- Choosing to focus on near term solvable issues (symptoms) than real complex and deep rooted ailments
- Choosing to over-rely on existing competences / resources for developing solutions
- Choosing to over-rely on issuing mandates for implementing solutions
Tracking the progress
- What are the relevant measures that will closely reflect the change in state of affairs? (lead and outcome indicators)
- What are the planned calibrated consequences attached to performance achieved against progress milestones? (Resource release, awards etc.)
- What is the process to monitor and manage the dynamic impact of influencing variables and adjust solution? (Review or revise plans and commitments)
- Choosing to ignore the requirements of establishing accountability, and steady governance to ensure sustained focus beyond initial euphoria
- Choosing to ignore bleak signs of unintended side-effects of action taken
- Choosing to ignore time lag between action and response by demanding quicker returns
Quick review of the above list would have reminded you of the some of the instances that relate to the pitfalls mentioned or to the lack of adequate attention to key components.
Also you would be tempted to add some more components and pitfalls to the above list. By all means do so, and create your own version of the checklist that will help enhance your managerial effectiveness.