Management Shouldn’t Be So *Bleep*ing ComplicatedManagement Shouldn’t Be So *Bleep*ing Complicated https://jasonlauritsen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/towfiqu-barbhuiya-NwIExsCqXdM-unsplash-3000x2002.jpg 1080 721 Jason Lauritsen https://jasonlauritsen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/towfiqu-barbhuiya-NwIExsCqXdM-unsplash-3000x2002.jpg
Why do we make management so hard?
I’ve got an entire bookshelf that is full of management and leadership books, many filled with contradictory advice about what really matters or the most effective approaches.
Why have we made it so complicated?
Spending years as a corporate executive was a study in unnecessary complication. One specific meeting stands out. I can’t even recall the issue on the table, but it had to do with some employee concerns.
This room full of senior executives spent what was felt like hours debating over what to do. As the newly hired HR exec, I observed and listened as this went on and on.
The most maddening part of it all was that the people in this room really didn’t understand the issue at hand. They were making all kinds of assumptions, but no one had any grounded insight into the problem we wanted to solve.
Finally, I decided it was time to intervene and I said, “If we want to know what the employees want, why don’t we just go ask them?”
That’s ultimately what we did.
We love to over-complicate things and we’ve done it with flair to the practice of managing people at work.
But managing people doesn’t have to complicated.
In fact, the role and purpose of the manager can be summed up in just five words.
Help people succeed at work.
It’s really that simple. If you do this every day, you will be successful as a manager.
But somewhere along the line, over the past 100 years or so since management was invented, we’ve done everything we can to make it more complicated.
I’m done with complicated. You should be too.
I have yet to find a complicated management practice that benefits either the manager or employee involved. In nearly every case, that process is designed for the needs of someone else (HR, executives, compliance, etc.) often at the expense of the manager, employee, or their relationship.
Case in point: performance appraisals.
Complicated management practices are not only ineffective, they are profoundly wasteful.
The core tenets and practices of management should be simple. Work is a relationship and thus, the most important practices of management are those that foster and build relationships.
These don’t need to be complicated.
What does simple look like?
Here are some examples of simple management tenets.
- Treat people like adults.
- Be kind to everyone.
- Don’t be a jackass (I know, same as #2, but I think it’s worth saying again).
- Be the example.
- If you aren’t sure, ask.
- Check-in as often as they need it.
- Ensure people know what is expected of them.
- Say you are sorry.
- Say thank you more often.
- Tell people you care about them.
- Spend time with your people.
- Trust people until proven otherwise.
I know what you are probably thinking, these sound like motivational poster platitudes.
There’s a reason those Successories posters were so popular. They reveal the simple truths to us that we crave in a land of unnecessary complexity.
Sure, you will need to spend time with managers calibrating what these tenets mean in day-to-day practice. But I would caution you to reference item 1 on the list.
Managers are savvy adults who want to succeed at their job. The meaning of simple statements is, well, simple to understand. Resist the urge to immediately complicate.
When you establish simple expectations for a manager, they can figure it out more easily on their own through experience.
I know I have personally learned the specifics of “don’t be a jackass” through conversations with several people I managed who were kind enough to share with me exactly HOW I was being a jackass.
And I became better as a manager as a result.
It’s time to simplify management.
There has been a lot of hand wringing over the Great Resignation in the past year. Everyone scrambling to sort out what’s happening and what needs to be done to stop the exodus.
I think the answer is simple: Better managers.
And to get better managers, we need to get back to the basics of the job and simplify.
When you get your managers focused on their one true job, to help people succeed at work, and permit them to build better relationships with their people, most people will stop leaving.
This won’t fix every problem, but it will have a huge impact.
Keep it simple. Make it human. Retain your people.
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Jason, You nailed it. The overarching premise to this is that as a manager or leader, you need to be able to lead yourself first. When you do that, you can stay in the zone where you are kind, where you do listen, where you actually help your people succeed.
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