I recently posted nine great infographics from my colleague Ott Jõgi of the collaborative software vendor Weekdone, but here's one that's even better. 

It describes the basic elements of a solid management strategy that keeps your employees productive. Always a good thing.

However, as usual, I have my own take on these issues, so I've sliced the infographic in order to add my own content. You can see the full infographic here.

1. Set an example

With managing (and with parenting, for that matter), "do as I say, not as I do" isn't a viable strategy. Recent studies have shown that unethical behavior at the management level causes ethical employees to depart, leaving the company with those who are willing to cut corners, steal, or defraud your customers. For a perfect example, look at any large financial firm.

2. Seek out crisis

I probably would have said "leverage crisis" rather than actively seek it out. My experience with cultural change is that it's almost impossible when driven from the top. In most cases, it requires an entire change of management and displacement of stakeholders. That's impractical in a large company, which is why the Microsoft of today is culturally identical to the Microsoft of the 1990s.

3. Share and track efficiency goals.

The challenge with goals is that they're greatly weakened when they become institutionalized. In most cases, people's personal goals will be quite different from the goals of their team, which will be different from those of the corporation. Alignment is possible, but far from automatic. It takes hard word to get there, and most companies never succeed at this.

4. Crowdsource productivity methods

Most companies do this in some way or other, but often in a way that insults the intelligence of employees. For example, a friend of mind--an assembly technician--suggested a change in inventory flow that saved his company many millions of dollars, yearly. Rather than a hefty bonus, they gave him a medal (worth maybe $1) and a 1 percent raise. Sad.

5. Clarify expectations and offer autonomy.

The challenge here is that some employees don't WANT responsibility to make decisions because they know they'll get blamed if they make the wrong ones. You have to strike a balance between offering autonomy, being available for coaching, having a backup plan (if the employee fails), and tolerating the occasional, inevitable failure.

6. Shift from process- to principles-based management.

I think mission statements are bullsh*t because they often reflect the "law of inverse relevance," which is: "The less you plan on doing about something, the more you must talk about it." Even when true, stuff like "we're committed to offering the best customer service" is too vague to be meaningful.

Even so, the concept of providing guidelines rather than specific processes does offer more flexibility to people in how they get their job accomplished. I know from experience that sales process, while valuable, can get in the way of selling. Great salespeople know when to scrap the process and close the deal.

7. Provide instant access to workplace info.

This isn't bad advice but the "86 percent of employees" quote isn't relevant. Most companies already have universally available information--if anything, there's too much information. Blaming "lack of collaboration" for failure is just a weasel word for finger-pointing: "It wasn't OUR fault! THEY didn't collaborate well enough."

8. Teach people how to block their time.

There's no question that multitasking slows people down. However, the modern "open office" is specifically designed for better "collaboration," which means being interrupted all the time. Dump the open office and you'll automatically increase productivity by reducing distractions and interruptions.

9. Get over setbacks quicker.

What's missing from the graphic is the need to develop personal and organizational resiliency. To move on after a setback requires the emotional maturity to put your emotions aside and focus on the future. That's why explosive managers are so toxic; they're like babies who can't tolerate any situation that doesn't go their way.

10. Measure productivity.

This one is difficult because if you measure everything, you're measuring nothing. I'm generally against measuring hours and activities. What's important are results and the steps that lead towards those results. If you measure more than that, you get tied up in the process-driven micromanagement that's criticized above.

Published on: Jul 5, 2016
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