Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Review of Lectures 2-9
If you have been a diligent student you have spent two or more weeks on the first nine lectures and associated exercises. By now you may have encountered many things that you need to change in your management practices. Therefore it’s a good time to stop, review the material covered so far and begin to develop a plan to put into practice those changes in your behavior that you now know are necessary. If you wait until the end of your study to start implementing changes either you will be overwhelmed or you will have forgotten many essential items. This review is brief, but you should spend several hours or even several days working on the planning called for in the exercise.
Two claims were central to the first nine lectures:
– Managers must increase worker motivation and apply process improvement to achieve high organizational effectiveness
– An effective leadership approach is to integrate Theory Z (participative management in a MBO environment) with a proven process improvement approach
The bulk of the material presented so far dealt with motivating your workers. Key points included:
– People are at different stages on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
– Managers must deal with people according to their needs
– People are happy when moving up the hierarchy and most productive at the self-actualization level
– Theory X,Y,L & Z managers address people’s needs differently and their styles influence an organization’s effectiveness
– Most of today’s workers are knowledge workers
– Understanding and managing knowledge workers requires that they be treated as individuals.
– Theory Z management style is best for knowledge workers but should be modified according to situations and individual worker’s needs.
– Theory Z managers should deal with workers with a directing, coaching, supporting or delegating approach depending on the situation and the type of worker.
If any of these points are foggy you need to review the lectures until these points are engrained in your consciousness.
Now is the time to retrieve the draft plan you made at the end of Lecture 6 for improving the motivation of workers in your organization, along with any additions or modifications you made after Lecture 7. Review this plan; add any steps you think are needed from what you learned in Lectures 8 and 9. The result is the first phase of your leadership action plan. It’s time to begin implementing your plan but first let’s review your plan to see if it’s an effective plan. I’ll outline a process that leads to an effective plan. Check your plan against this outline.
Developing an Effective Plan
Use what I call the Super Bowl Metaphor for developing an effective plan that has three levels: a goal, measures of effectiveness, and actions. If a coach’s goal is to win the Super Bowl then first he must define the seven or eight measures that if fulfilled will likely result in a win. These measures are such things as turnover ratio, pass completion percentage, yards gained per rush, yards yielded by the defense per rush, etc. Then he examines his team’s recent performance and his organization to identify which of the measures must be improved if the team is going to be a Super Bowl contender. Then he defines the actions that must be taken in order to improve the measures selected. For example, if pass completion percentage needs to be improved then there are many possible actions that might be called for; such as recruit a new quarterback, develop new passing plays, train the offensive line in pass protection, trade for new receivers, recruit a new receiver coach, etc. It is from this third level of actions that the right plan is developed for his team and his organization.
Step 1 Define your goal
Now, examine your plan. Your goal at this point in the course should be to improve the motivation of your organization’s workers. You can modify your goal as you progress in this course and progress in motivating your workers.
Step 2 Develop metrics
Next you should define metrics that you can track to determine if your plan is working. (The term metric is often used for the quantitative or qualitative measure of progress toward a goal.) The most relevant metric is the percent of your workers that have achieved self-actualization. If you are very good at assessing people you might estimate where each employee is on the Maslow hierarchy and track improvements as your plan is implemented. If you are not naturally good at directly assessing where people are on Maslow’s hierarchy then develop other measures that are representative of the motivational health of your organization. Think about other measures that indicate whether people’s needs are being satisfied; e.g. the number of complaints you hear or hear about each week, the number of positive or negative remarks you hear each week, the amount of questionable sick time or personal time being taken, or the number of persons resigning or requesting transfers each month, or some similar measure. The metrics should be something you can easily record on a 3 x 5 card in your pocket or in a checklist on your computer or smartphone. Strive for two or three simple metrics that are meaningful for your organization and for you. These metrics are used to track your progress, just as a coach uses the measures defined in the Super Bowl metaphor to track a team’s progress.
Step 3 Identify Root Causes
Next assess the reasons for your organization’s motivation level not being as high as it could be. You must look for “causes” that can be fixed. Think of parallels to the actions described in the Super Bowl metaphor, except in your case recruiting new workers or trading workers shouldn’t be high on your list. Reread Lecture 6 if you have trouble identifying the causes of low motivation. When you have a list of causes analyze them by treating each to a series of “Whys”. This means taking each cause in turn and asking why this cause exists. Write down your best estimate of any underlying causes for the observed cause and continue this analysis until you satisfy two criteria. The final causes should be root causes, i.e. there are no more underlying causes that result from asking why and the root cause must be a cause you can address. Root causes that are due to organizational culture or the business environment that are outside your control should be deferred to a later time after you have addressed the root causes you can control.
Step 4 Develop Solutions
Now ask what you can do to fix each root cause. It may be to change your management style, e.g. to adapt your style to the needs of each of your knowledge workers, or it may be to make changes in business processes in your organization. For now concentrate on the ones that involve your management style, job assignments, career development and similar personnel or philosophy related actions. You can add business process changes later after we have discussed effective ways to improve processes.
Step 5 Define Actions
The final step in your planning before you begin implementing your action plan is to define the top seven or eight most important actions necessary for you to take. Trying to implement a dozen actions all at once is too hard to do in parallel with the other responsibilities you have. It’s alright to have less than seven or eight but don’t take on more. You have to think about how you will take action and you must make sure you are consistent. Finally, you must be patient. Don’t expect your organization’s motivation to jump the first month or even first quarter after you have begun your plan. People are cautious when they see different behavior in a manager. They wait and watch to see if the behavior is consistent.
Step 6 Execute the Actions
Now you have an effective plan and have thought through how you are going to implement it and measure progress. Put your plan in action.
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