Unwarranted control

When we deal with others, control is often superfluous. The best policy for managing knowledge workers is to get up on managing them. Inspire them instead.

Managers Coaches need to give people challenges and very broad boundaries to operate within. It’s analogous to a child’s puzzle. Give people the dots but let them connect them for themselves. Managers have build up elaborate rituals to doublecheck their people are connecting the dots in the proper sequence. Cruft accumulates on the simplest of processes, obscuring their original meaning.

Kevin Wheeler shared a story that provides a solid example:

A new manager found herself fielding the usual headaches of dealing with “managed” workers. Some complained of having too much to do. Others had finished what they were working on and asked what to do next. Projects were falling behind schedule. People were not happy.

The manager was called away for a month-long business trip. She called everyone into a conference room. They brainstormed lists of what needed to be accomplished while the manager was away. They left with an understanding of what needed to be done but no individual assignments for doing it.

When the manager returned, the group exceeded expectation. All projects were accomplished. People were proud of their accomplishment. The manager learned that her job was to set direction; next, she had to get out of people’s way so they could do it. Many managers spend too much time managing.