Management 1-2-3

OK, you’re the Big Cheese Manager – or maybe a Small-Box one.

Do you want a road-map on how to “manage” your group?

Here are two start-up questions (with four hints).

Plus a recipe for Management How-To.

Question A.

What are you going to manage? Are you going to manage the inside of one or more of those “Boxes”, which means managing the people and their behaviors, motivations and competencies – and maybe even their tasks and activities? If so, you’ll be managing people and work. Or, are you going to manage the “Arrows”, which means managing  the agreed-upon deliveries of products, services, and communications between the Boxes?

           Hint 1: People don’t like being managed.

           Hint 2: People can get behind managing their own agreements to deliver results.

                So… Stop managing people. Manage their agreements. Performance is delivery.

Question B.

Everybody wants “high performance” ratings. But there are three kinds of performance in a network organization (framed like the Big Cheese diagram), and they are observed and measured in different ways and places:

  • Productivity & Efficiency – You can measure the productivity of people and the efficiency of processes and activities going on inside a Box. But to measure productivity, you have to look at those incoming & outgoing Arrows. Your resources are inputs that arrive on the incoming Arrows and your results are outputs that depart on the outgoing Arrows. How many of those incoming resources does it take to produce those outgoing outputs? Those are your measures of productivity and efficiency.
  • Quantity & Quality – You can measure the quantity and/or the quality of your results – your outgoing products, services, and communications – by studying what’s on your outgoing Arrows.
    • How many of each kind of output do you see, per day or week or month?
    • Are those numbers satisfactory?
    • Which of those outputs meet your quality standards?
  • Effectiveness & Impact – You can measure the effectiveness or impact of your products, services, and communications, by setting up a “feedback” Arrow. Ask the people in any of your “user-customer Boxes” – the one(s) that receive your results/outputs – to tell you what they think of the outputs you sent them.
    • Were they useful?
    • What value did they provide?
    • Did they serve the purposes they expected from them?
    • Your feedback Arrow will deliver the answers to your effectiveness and impact questions.

Hint 3: There is no “right” answer. You get to choose whether to measure, track and improve one kind of performance – or two – or all three.

Hint 4: Effectiveness & Impact are more expensive measures to take because you have to communicate with people in another Box to get their promise to provide feedback, and then check to see that you are getting the feedback you need when you need it. Which means you manage the feedback Arrow.

   So… Management for performance is all about the Arrows.

Leadership speaks the future. Management makes it happen.

Management Recipe: 1-2-3

1. Clarify your goal.

Communication is the basic unit of management. Whether you head up an organization, department, or project, establish a foundation of good communication with everyone on your team to identify and clarify the goal. Create the “game” with everyone in your group by identifying several ways to know if you are winning: Four questions to discuss

    • What do you want to accomplish?
    • By when do you want to see those results?
    • Which kind(s) of performance do you want to measure? (see Question B, above)
    • What measures will you use?

2. Set up “performance agreements” with Team & Key Players.

To accomplish any goal, know the “key players” (in other Boxes). With your Team, identify:

  • Your resource suppliers for accomplishing this goal,
  • The internal and external users/customers of any interim or ultimate outputs that will be produced in the course of working toward this goal,
  • Any collaborators or facilitators (such as IT, R&D, marketing or shipping, outside consultants or specialists, etc.) who will be assisting you and/or your team to reach the goal, and
  • Any “authorities” (organizational, governmental, or other) who will have a say about your progress toward the goal, and the agreements you’ll be making with other goal-relevant players, including for the feedback you may need from them.

These four types of people or groups are your Senders and Receivers, also known as “key players”, and you can think of them as the “performance circle” of your connections for a particular goal.

Foster Team engagement by defining your goal’s Performance Circle with the Team:

  • Identify the “key players” – Senders and Receivers – relevant to the Team’s goal.
  • Identify the goal-relevant products, services, and/or communications that will go from each Sender to each Receiver – and when those deliveries will happen.
  • Clarify what agreements are needed to obtain, produce, and/or deliver those goal-relevant products, services and communications.
    • NOTE: Many of the agreements may already be in place, but “assumed” or “expected”, without having been clearly spelled out. But it is very useful to talk with the other party to be sure the “agreement” is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Identify which Team member(s) will create and manage each of the agreements.  

Agreements are the engine for performance. A Request + a Promise = an Agreement.

  • You Request that I send X to you by close of business Friday. I Promise to do that. Or , maybe I counter-offer and we discuss or bargain, and create an Agreement.
  • Getting specific about what type(s) of performance is wanted will increase the probability of success. Many Teams are interested in productivity-efficiency performance of operations. Many user-customers are interested in the quantity-quality performance of what they receive. Some user-customers are interested in the impact-effectiveness of what they receive.
  • Agreements within the Team – assignments for what each member will provide, to whom and when – are helpful for individual success.

3. Tracking, Reporting and Updating

Tracking results is the engine for management. A Team that intends to accomplish a goal will create a performance structure to support coordination, progress and velocity using these ingredients:

  • Draft a few scoreboards to put where Team members will see them. Some examples of useful scoreboards are:
    • The goal statement with milestones and timelines to indicate progress.
    • Performance Circle players: Resource Suppliers, User-Customers, Collaborators-Facilitators, and Authorities, with notes regarding (1) Whether the Send-Receive Agreements have been established or updated, (2) Who the Sender and Receiver is for each Agreement, (3) Which type of Performance indicators are most relevant to the Agreement (Productivity-Efficiency, Quantity-Quality, and/or Impact-Effectiveness), and (4) which Team member(s) will be managing that agreement.
    • Team assignments, including who will be watching what is happening on one or more of the Arrows that connect the Team to each Key Player for the goal, and will manage what and when, specific “deliveries” move between the Team and each member of the Goal Performance Circle.
  • TRACKING: Establish agreements for Team members to update the status of their own agreements on one or more of the scoreboards at specified times (weekly or bi-weekly).
    • Is progress being made toward the goal milestones and timelines?
    • Are the Team’s primary performance indicator(s) being measured and met successfully?
    • Have the agreements between all goal-relevant Senders and Receivers been established and are they working?
    • Are the performance measures for those delivery agreements being measured and met successfully?
  • REPORTING: Establish a regular schedule for Team meetings to review the status of all performance being tracked on the scoreboards – for Goal progress, Team progress, Performance Circle agreements and Team member agreements.        Update the scoreboards to reflect the status of all agreements. Discuss as appropriate and UPDATE the following as needed:
    • What agreements with Suppliers, User-Customers, or Collaborators need to be developed or updated?
    • What products, services, and communications need to be redefined?
    • What agreements for team members need to be changed or updated?
    • Are we satisfied with our performance on all measures?
    • THEN, debrief problems, make course-corrections, and celebrate accomplishments.
Leadership speaks the future. Management makes it happen.
Communication is the basic unit of management.
Agreements are the engine for performance.
Tracking results is the engine for management.
Jeffrey and Laurie Ford’s book, The Four Conversations: Daily Communication That Gets Results was named Best Management Book of 2009.  It is a practical easy-to-use method for improving workplace communications (although it works at home too).

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