In my prior article, I describe the dynamic of promoting a top individual contributor to management as a form of reward, only for it to turn into punishment. Yet this is not inevitable. You can find top individual contributors who become top managers. After all, if your top performer was able to learn one series of complex skills as an individual contributor, it stands to reason that the top performer is able to learn a second series of complex skills as a manager.
However, what are those skills? In individual contributor roles, people are expected to deliver something, and this is what they get used to as good work: “If I produce X, at quality Y, and in time frame Z, then I’ve done a good job.”
It’s a set of deliverables that tend to be pretty well defined.
Now the individual contributor becomes a manager with a team of three. The dynamic is suddenly, “Now there is four of me, and now my team needs to produce 4x at quality Y and in time-frame Z.
What the manager needs to produce is now ambiguous: Do you help produce all that stuff? If one person on the team is a lower performer, do I have to double my efforts and produce myself the gap in productivity? Do I stop producing individual stuff and monitor the work of the lower performers, risking lowering the productivity of the team?
The natural instinct for a new manager is to keep doing the individual contributor work, and hope that others will do as well. The problem is that the management tasks become a distraction from that individual work, and you get both an unmanaged team and a distracted, formerly high performing individual contributor. It becomes a mess where formerly rational employees become yelling managers and, in general, manage from a deficit.
So here’s a way to present to the manager what they have to do in a way that makes sense to an Individual Contributor: Management is a series of deliverables. They are different deliverables from the work done as individual contributor, but deliverables specific to being a manager.
Here is a sampling of what these deliverables are:
–A team “what/how grid”
–A performance log on employees
–Team expectations for performance
–Employee performance feedback delivered and documented
–Documented efforts to improve how the team works as a team
–Documented efforts to improve how the team works with partner teams
–Efforts to improve processes and tools
This is part of a series of posts designed to help break the mandatory meeting cycle. The better you make the meetings, the less you’ll need to make them mandatory. In my previous post, I described some basic criteria for what makes a meeting valuable and compelling to the attendees. With these criteria, you can start to measure the quality of your meetings or any meeting you attend.
After a meeting, it is often ambiguous whether the meeting was a success. The person calling the meeting may have obtained or shared the information they wanted to, but was it a compelling meeting?
Here are some ways to measure whether the meeting was compelling – for all participants. You can then chart this out and create an index over time to create a leading indicator index of meeting quality that you or your team members attend. Read more
In my previous post, I discussed why mandatory meetings create a bad dynamic for your group or your team. The post centered on the cycle that the people who don’t want to attend – the ones that compelled you to make it mandatory – end up sabotaging your meeting anyway, making it a bad experience for you, the ones who wanted to attend, and the ones who didn’t want to attend.
But there are more reasons you should consider not making any meetings mandatory. And here they are:
Reason number 1: You can’t get everyone to attend anyway
This is an obvious point, but one that seems to be lost on many managers who require attendance at meetings. For any given meeting, there is going to be a group of people who will not or cannot attend. Read more
A common management practice is to make a meeting mandatory. I’ve seen regular team meetings that are called “mandatory”, “all hands” meetings that are called mandatory, special presentations with the group leadership that are mandatory. Lots of mandatory stuff going around! The problem is that if you feel compelled to call a meeting mandatory, it probably isn’t a very good meeting. In fact, if the tag “mandatory” has been added, then it is a sign that it’s going to be a low quality meeting.
When calling a meeting, the goal ought to be that you don’t feel compelled to call it mandatory. If you do feel compelled to get attendance by invoking the mandatory card, you should consider not having the meeting at all. Lack of employee interest a leading indicator that the meeting is going to be a bad meeting for all parties. Read more
In my previous post, I described what I call the “ineffective-you-doing-OK-swing-by.” It is ineffective in that it indicates that the manager is hoping to take a short cut in solving a problem, and it doesn’t solve the problem. Additionally, it trains your employees to set up dramas to get your attention. It’s a leading indicator that you are managing from a deficit.
In today’s post, I’ll discuss five ways to reduce and avoid having to rely on such swing-bys.