EIGHTH RULE OF MANAGEMENT
January 21, 2013 4 Comments
The first rule of management is that successful management is actually more about how you manage yourself rather than being about how you manage others (see “First rule of management” posted June 25, 2012).
The second rule of management is that the key to your own success is totally dependent on the success of your people (see “Second rule of management” posted September 24, 2012).
The third rule of management is that no man is an island, and you need to build a network in all directions (see “Third rule of management” posted October 1, 2012).
The fourth rule of management is that you do not manage people, but you manage their behaviour (see “Fourth rule of management” posted October 15, 2012).
The fifth rule of management is that if you are serious about moving up, you need to first move sideways (see “Fifth rule of management” posted November 5, 2012).
The sixth rule of management is that you should not over-manage your people (see “Sixth rule of management” posted November 19, 2012).
The seventh rule of management is that if you don’t manage the financials they will manage you (see “Seventh rule of management” posted Nov 26th, 2012).
The eighth rule of management is to keep it simple.
Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
Life was meant to be simple, but people have a habit, a real insistence, in making life complex. Weak managers will go out of their way to create complexity as a way of justifying their role. Good managers on the other hand will put effort into removing complexity from every element of their business responsibilities and ensure that it is as easy as possible for their team to fulfil the role that is expected of them, and that the organisation depends upon.
Here are just a few areas that are worth focussing on:
Good managers make sure that they quickly get rid of the inessentials, and understand that what should not be done is as important as knowing what has to be done. If tasks do nothing to add to the financial success of the company (revenue and profit), or if tasks have no impact on supporting a benefit for some part of the company’s broad ecosystem, then they have no right to exist and should be discarded without delay. Business tasks (sometimes even entire departments) can stay alive long after they have outlived their original usefulness, continuing simply out of the tradition that “we have always done it that way”. As well, requests for actions from people outside your own team should be reviewed (and regularly re-reviewed) to see if they meet the criteria of providing some real benefit to the ecosystem, other than to the person requesting that the task be done. If it has no real worthwhile benefit, stop people from doing it.
Organisational structures are meant to be simple and should enable people to understand where they fit in the greater scheme of things, and also allow an organisation to be nimble and quickly reactive to changing market conditions and customer needs. This is not true of most complex matrix organisations which I believe are an aberration, and are in most cases created in organisations where people are not trusted, as it is based on the belief that multiple views from differing perspectives will give someone somewhere higher up the ladder a better understanding of reality. It won’t, but it will create a lot of extra reporting and time wasting. I do accept that some simple matrix organisations can help professional cohesiveness and development across different departments and geographies in for example engineering roles , but the more complex the matrix the more it becomes a barrier to business success ( see “Stupid management Ideas” posted August 29,2011). I have come across matrix organisations that could not have been explained to Einstein let alone to a 6 year old.
Make sure that people understand what is expected of them and make it as easy as possible for them to achieve their goals (with stretch otherwise the achievement will have little meaning), by removing the barriers that could hinder their success, remembering that the only real task of a manager is “to create an environment where people can be unbelievably successful”. Don’t set too many individual goals as people should understand what is critical for success, and ensure that these goals are understandable, understood and that there is commitment to their successful completion. Also ensure that your people have a serious understanding of how to achieve them and that they have the skills necessary to do so, and if they don’t, it is your responsibility to ensure that there are plans in place to remedy this. Make sure that you then use every opportunity to give them feedback on their progress.
Be the role model for simplicity. Don’t flood your people with too many emails. My average before retirement was receiving about 300 emails per day, and I did not have the time to spend sifting out the important from the rubbish, so generally treated all emails with a low level of priority, deciding that if it was really important someone would talk to me directly (see “Emails Bloody Emails” posted April 21, 2011. Don’t tie up precious time with never ending meetings that have little real benefit other than filling time (see “Meetings Bloody Meetings” posted April 18, 2011).. Keep messaging simple and interesting, for example one of my messages to the SAP sales force about our major competitor was that “there is no company out there in the world that is so bad that they deserve to do business with Oracle”, rather than going in to a long diatribe about beating the competition.
I have long believed that any fool can create complexity, but it takes real genius to do things simply, and this is particularly true in management.
As so ably put by Leonardo da Vinci “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”