In the rush to get the job done quickly and effectively, it’s all too easy to trample on the ideas and efforts of others. Most senior managers will acknowledge the importance of having the support, loyalty and ideas of their “subordinates”, I prefer to use the phrase, team members. A company of any size cannot sustain growth on the back of one person. Without a team effort, the entreprenerial spark can be extinguised in the rainstorm of turmoil created by success.
Desirable employees want positions that satisfy an interest o r because they are excited about where a company is going. They want to be part of the accomplishment. The enthusiasm they bring to the table is vital to the creativity that sustains growth.
So how does a manager on this walk through the corporate jungle end up squishing creativity like a bug? The fundamental building blocks to success are easily stifled. Here are some suggestions on how you can smother any chance of being a successful manager.
First- Fail to acknowledge the importance of other people. Take credit for all the creative thinking and problem solving. “protect” your team from the scrutiny of top management by never conceding the part they played in your latest accomplishment. Deceive yourself into believing that they take pride in serving you and your light is enough to keep them tanned.
Second – do not ask other popeple’s opinions. After all, who knows more about running your department than you? That’s right. How could someone toiling in the trenches with no big picture mentality possibly grasp situations and problems as well as you? Believe that you alone have the candlepower to illuminate the dark crevices that big problems create.
Third – give your opinion first, forcefully and often. It is imperative for your subordinates to know where you stand. Won’t they be like sailors at sea without a compass if you don’t give them direction? Naturally, they will turn to you for guidance. Why wait? Give them the answers before they ask the quesitons. Remember no-one knows more about the operation than you.
If any of the behaviors in the last three paragraphs seem a tad similar to your own management style, then you may be guilty of squishing the bug. People need….not just want, but need…approval, This is a fundamental principle of human behaviour. To maximise our potential, we all need recognition. George Houston clearly summarised what happens when a manager fails to encourage his/her team when he said, “anything that interferes with individaul progress ultimately will retard group progress.”
The primary role of a senior manager should be the development of those who report to him or her. It is through their growth that the company will prosper. Now that we’ve identified how to mange people poorly, let’s look at how to get the most of out your employees.
First – acknowledge the importance of people. William James, the father of modern psychology said, “the deepest priniple in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Repeated surveys have shown that employees leave companies most often not becuase of salary but because of lack of recognition. The effective manager gives recognition to whom it’s due. Try catching people performing well. Praise noteworthy behaviour! Smile more. You don’t need to carry your pom-poms and become a cheerleader. But you must take responsibility for the morale of your department.
Second – Ask other people’s opinions. Tap the creativity and differing perspectives of all your employees. Take every opportunity to ask and then listen. The benefit is incalcuable.
Third – Foster creativity by allowing open discussion of all possible solutions. The emphasis is on the quantity not the quality of ideas. There are no wrong answers in this process. Your role is to encourage free-wheeling generation of ideas. If you defer judgment, people will hitchhike a solution on another idea that had little merit. In this atmosphere the magic of creativity flourishes.
When the process plays itself (no more than 10 minutes), then have the group begin to whittle the possible solutions down. Again, it is important for you to allow the group to make the judgements. You might prompt thought by asking questions. For example, “what effect could this solution have on other departments?” or “How much might that cost?” When the group has selected the most effective solution then work on specific steps for implemetation.
Philospher Dr. Marcus Bach said “Success, or failure, very often arrives on wings that seem mysterious to us”
It is up to every manager to serve as the conduit rather than the short circuit of creativity.