Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Getting in the trenches

There is power in being visible when you are a manager.  There is even more power when you demonstrate to people that you are willing/prepared to jump in with them and assist in the trenches.

While some people may think that sitting in an office writing reports (effectively looking backwards) constitutes good management this completely misses the point!  Management and managers should be forward looking and in touch with the action.

This is one danger area that I encountered when I became a new manager.  That is balancing the demands from senior management to write reports and to be seen to be in control while not losing touch with the real people actually doing the work.  It is still something I struggle with - a lot.

Here's what I try to do to keep ion touch (with the real workers) -

  1. Talk to them in their workspace.  If they are on the worksite then I visit the worksite.  With our gardening staff it is great to visit them when they are working in the greenhouse.  With our sawmill staff - I go to the sawmill.
  2. Keep in touch.  Phone calls are a simple method.  Not always effective but simple.  Certainly more effective than an email is.
  3. Don't just focus on the emergencies.  It is easy to get busy with the emergencies.  The emergency gets dealt with and you have a stronger relationship with that team or that person.  But what happens next?  Keep in touch and keep working together.

I know I always appreciate it more when my manger gets in the trenches with me and demonstrates from the front that they are working with me to make change happen.

(Image: coutesy of Woody389 on flickr creative commons)

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