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Management is boring
but it doesn't have to be
I hope you are doing safe and well. I've got a few conferences coming up soon, which is exciting - and I've nearly finished the posters for Take A Day Off!
In this newsletter:
Short solo waffle
Article - Management is boring
I did a talk in Cornwall last week which went well - I enjoyed it - and some challenging questions about respect!
Last Sunday will be the last “Here’s an idea worth playing with” - HAIWPW for a while. It was always a temporary project and one that has gone well - the downloads are impressive and people seem to resonate with the ideas, but I have a few big projects to get done - so I need to carve out some more time for those over the next two months.
It will return at some point - and with it will be a new season of the podcast and a project I am loving creating - called Meeting Notes. Very much a fun project to be working on - and one that will hopefully entertain, inspire, motivate and make you giggle - I hope.
I’ve also updated my “work with me” offerings to make it easier for clients to see how they can work with me.
Note: There are no interesting links this week - as I simply haven’t had time to read anything!
This week I am including a chapter I omitted from Take A Day Off. I left it out because it's about management and Take A Day Off has broader appeal. I also left it out because it's a little challenging.
I firmly believe that managers hold the key to creating fun meaningful workplaces that enrich the lives of all who work in them - or they can do the opposite.
I also believe that agility belongs to management - and when we see a HR team struggling to bring about policy, change and retention - we often see managers not doing their jobs properly. Managers are in a golden position to get business results and retain staff, or they really can make it hard for everyone involved - and not through bad intentions - mostly through never having the correct training.
This is a little ditty about the boring life of management.
Management is boring.
Industry best practices – dull.
Off-the-shelf frameworks – dull.
Centralised planning teams – dull.
Target Operating Models – dull.
Employee Engagement surveys – dull.
Industry reports – dull.
Copying what other companies are doing – dull.
Sell, sell, sell at the expense of people – dull.
The never-ending task list – dull.
Do more with less - dull.
“You SHOULD do this” – dull.
“My way is the only way” – dull.
Red, Amber, Green – dull.
Yet another new initiative – dull.
Governance boards – dull.
Values posters on the wall that don’t match behaviours – dull.
When did management get so boring?
There used to be a time when management was creative, interesting and compelling. When the role of management was about unleashing potential and making problems hyper interesting, then gathering talented people around you to overcome them.
When did we get taught to build fences and watch towers and apply rules at every opportunity?
There was a time when management was something to aspire towards, not to be ridiculed. A time when management was about nudging interesting work forward, not merely a promotional role with better pay.
Maybe, that time never did exist. I suspect it didn't. I’ve probably made it up. And no doubt, there is joyful management in the world, and there has always been dull management!
But seriously? The world of management is so mainstream. So middle of the road. So, uninspiring. So, quantifiable and mass marketed. So dull.
Where has all the personality gone?
You can change that.
You can take that dullness and kick it to the curb. You can inject some passion and interest and joyfulness. You can learn the rules, then learn which ones to break (Not the HR compliance ones...). You can build a team and have fun doing it. You can treat people like people AND get amazing business results. You get to nudge the business forward.
You can build some guard rails but keep them broad - allowing creativity and intuition to thrive. You can nurture your team’s potential by removing red tape and bureaucracy. You can get to know your people - and help them get what they want, whilst achieving business results, personal growth and freedom to innovate and create. It's not easy but management is not easy - it's hard.
Management IS about bringing some control to chaos. But when it goes too far it stifles creativity, productivity and joy.
This is what’s so appealing about the role of management. You get to bring the right level of order to chaos, and see people thrive within it. Every day you must find that tension between too much control (rules, process, red-tape, performance) and too much chaos. That’s what makes it fun.
Good managers know when the control is too tight, or when there isn’t enough of it. Good managers can sense it, study it, see it, feel it and lean into it.
The action they take though isn’t dull. It’s inspiring. It’s fun. It's effective.
Until next time