July 17, 2004

When Is a Manager Not a Manager

Well, Director Dan did it to me again. He reminded me 1) I should be the boss of him and 2) I need a new job where I don't have to put up with him at all.

I like to think I'm a good manager and leader. Sure, I can be a bit hot-headed, stubborn, and insensitive from time to time, but on the whole I love my team, I respect them and their work, and I consider it my primary objective to help them do their jobs better.

Anyway, as a leader, I'm not big on the command-and-control thing. People already call me "Evil Warlord" in the office, I don't need to be a bossy big britches to encourage the image of being Mediocre Corp's own little Napoleon, although it wouldn't be very hard for me to be that way. So, instead I like to encourage my team to find the right answers themselves. (Answers I already have, of course.)

By my thinking, when a person sets their own "stretch goals" they're more likely to see them as possible than if they are handed down in edict from on high.

So, every month, my team and I sit down and look at our performance stats and set goals for the next month. The conversation usually goes:

Me: We made three widgets last month. How many do you think we can make this month?

Team: Four!

Me: Oh come on! Four? Last month the widgets you made were super-sparkle widgets and you still had plenty of time left over!

Team: That's true.

Me: So, I know you can do way better than three.

Team: What if we make 5 regular widgets and 1 super-sparkle widgets?

Me: Now we're talking. Are you sure you couldn't make 2 super-sparkle widgets?

Team: Well... if we try real hard...

And so we come to a conclusion together and they always make it. I've seen a 77% improvement in performance over the last three months alone.

So, I went to Director Dan and I said, "Hey! My team has improved by 77% over the last three months and last month they made 3 super-sparkle widgets! That's a record! Can I take them out to lunch on the company?"

Director Dan was aghast, "I don't think that 3 widgets is anything to be proud of. I'm curious to know why you think that's acceptable at all."

So, I said, "Well, 3 doesn't sound like a lot, sure, but if you look at this chart you'll see that this is actually better performance than they've ever done. Besides, we set this goal for ourselves and they made it. I think it's appropriate to reward them for meeting their goals."

Director Dan, "I'm not sure I understand why you let the team set their own goals. Buy-in is important, sure, but goals are a management decision. You tell them and they have to meet it."

At this point I'm looking for ways to bail from this conversation, "Ha! Ha! Well, I guess all those leadership classes are just getting to me!"

Then I took my team to lunch on my own dime.

Good thing I'm not trying to be Mediocre Corp's little Napoleon. Then we'd have two.

P.S. Director Dan missed two days of work this week, came in at 11 one day and at 2 another. He did make it in on time one day because our HR lady came to visit... but he left at 3.

How come I don't have this guy's job already?

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at July 17, 2004 01:52 AM

exellent performance.
this is a type of mgt style i will inherit.
please, sooner i would be called for an interview to assistant manager. could please send me some facts to prepare me for that.


Posted by: jones at November 25, 2004 06:56 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?