Oh look, it’s another pointless article on effective management from a self-proclaimed “business expert”, this time a guy named Geoffrey James. Turns out, he also has a book about business. His advice this week? Forget those management books (except for his)!
Management books have it all wrong. They all try to tell you how to manage “people.”
It’s impossible to manage “people”; it’s only possible to manage individuals. And because individuals differ from one another, what works with one individual may not work with somebody else.
Some individuals thrive on public praise; others feel uncomfortable when singled out.
Some individuals are all about the money; others thrive on challenging assignments.
Some individuals need mentoring; others find advice to be grating.
The trick is to manage individuals the way that THEY want to be managed, rather than the way that YOU’d prefer to be managed.
The only way to do this is to ASK.
THANK you, Geoffrey (can I call you Geoff?) for POINTING out the obvious fact that we’re ALL unique snowflakes WHO have our own PREFERENCES when it comes TO management by using irritating formatting and EMPHASIS.
To an entitled millennial who wishes for their manager to recognize their unique greatness and allow them to “become who they’re supposed to be”, I bet this sounds swell. To anyone else, this sounds pretty stupid. Yes, it’s true that different people have different needs when it comes to our careers and our managers. That’s why we have one-on-ones. It’s the manager’s job to understand their employee, figure out how to capitalize on their strengths within the team setting, and offer guidance as to how the employee can find a comfort zone within the team and the overall management strategy. That strategy, incidentally, shouldn’t be “adjust my techniques to suit every direct report in my contacts list.”
Imagine you’re a manager (I know, funny, right?) and that you manage a team of six. Your management style, put broadly, is one of minimal to moderate oversight. You fulfill your end of the bargain by making sure each employee is clear on what his tasks are, what the outcomes should be, and when you expect these outcomes. You monitor progress through weekly team status meetings, and every two weeks you have a brief one-on-one with each employee to address any roadblocks or concerns, both from their end and yours. Other than that, you let them be. After all, you have shit to do. All of your employees love this style, except one: Todd. Todd needs, let’s say, a lot of hand holding. He doesn’t like the ambiguity that comes with having only a task order and a desired result. Todd also doesn’t like being called out and congratulated in an open forum, which is something you like to do during your status meetings.
Does Todd have unique needs? Yes he does, and one of them is that he doesn’t need to be on your team. That’s not to say he can’t be great somewhere, just not with you. Trying to change your style for each of your subordinates is like trying to win the Iditarod with a team of dogs that haven’t been trained together. Sure, each member is going to have their own personality and quirks, but to succeed it’s your job as a leader to unite your team behind a cohesive philosophy and strategy. To do otherwise would be an exercise in frustration. Kind of like dogsled racing.