Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Time Management for Managers- an Ingenious Turn-key Organization pt ii

Developing Leadership Ability Within a Company

Just as you need to acculturate your entry-level hires, you must also train new managers.  If you hire a seasoned manager from outside the firm (a practice I strongly discourage) you will need to acculturate your new hire too.

Your strongest practice is almost always to promote from within.  The reasons for this are numerous.  Most importantly, you'll sap employee loyalty and dull the edge of your most ambitious leaders if you give a senior role to an outsider.  But your newer managers are already acculturated to your organization; why would you want to throw away that training?  Your current employees already know your current policies and the way to do things within the company.  And they already have existing relationships that will help them do their job.  Further, an insider is always more loyal to the company than an outsider.

The only reason to hire outside the firm is if your culture is weak and needs to be shaken up badly.  Occasionally a large company board will hire from outside the company.  It weakens morale but sometimes a board feels desperate.  The strategy is tremendously risky and most outside hires leave after a short time.

Best Methods of Training Subordinate Leaders

As a manager, it's my job to train each of my subordinate managers to perform my job.  Similarly, my instructions to my direct reports is to train each of their subordinates to take over their job.

Too many managers prefer to perform a task because they claim it's easier than handing it off.  But this deprives subordinate leaders of learning and growing within the company.  The first thing I drill into my subordinates is that they must delegate.  I want them to give their subordinates the opportunity to learn as well.

A leader quick to delegate is an effective time manager.  And an effective time manager effectively manages their workload so rarely experiences burnout.  As a result they can remain calm and unfrazzled in a crisis.  This is a benefit of good leadership.

To teach delegation I issue my subordinates one instruction. For every piece of paper that arrives on their desk, or every task they're handed, I insist they ask themselves: "Who of my direct reports can I hand this off to?  Who has responsibility for or is affected by this?" 
How do I do this?   By modeling this desired behavior.

Grooming a New Leader

Assume you're the CEO of your company.  You've just hired a new sales and marketing VP.   This role oversees a sales manager and a marketing director.  They both have direct reports as well.  You need to get your new hire up to speed quickly to lead their department.

Had you promoted from within, your new VP would already know and practice these techniques I'm explaining.  But let's assume you've hired outside the company.

To emphasize the need for rigorous delegation, I assign this new manager every task and swamp them with every piece of paper related to sales or marketing.  I scan a letter or email, or review a task only enough to determine the department head directly below me to whom I can send it.  Ultimately, I want each task to be delegated down to the lowest rung that can perform it, and for that procession to happen one rung at a time.  Only after I am unable to further subdivide a task, will I own it.  I instruct her to act the same way.

If my new hire tries to keep a job that a subordinate could handle, for instance a sales-only task, then I will reinforce my instructions.  She should have delegated that task to her sales manager who then further tries to subdivide it.  Similarly, she will delegate anything related solely to marketing directly to her marketing manager, bypassing sales entirely.  I will also tell her to immediately return an item back to me if I've erred and the item is broader than her department and is thereby my responsibility.

I will continue to deluge my new hire until she gets it.  Then I can start copying her on items I send to people farther down the chain of command obviously the responsibility of that billet.  For instance, I will send a question about a California sale directly to the Western Sales manager.  And she can then start leapfrogging too.

I guide my people to act rapidly on each task to prevent bottlenecks.  They will learn to speed read emails and make quick critical judgments, they learn to divorce emotion from content.

Handling assignments in this manner, the only thing on your new hire's calendar will be those items that directly affect both sales and marketing but not either one or the other.  This means the only thing on your list will be tasks that affect more than one division of the company but not a single division.

If you train yourself and your subordinates to act this way, you will discover your daily calendar freeing up tremendously.  Delegating in this manner will end up moving responsibility and activity down the chain of command.  Let's look at what this accomplishes:

  • By training your people all the way down the line to delegate, they become effective time managers.  Ensuring everything runs through your new hire temporarily will also strengthen the chain of command allowing your leaders to forge stronger bonds with their people.
  • For each task, the employee on the lowest rung possible will handle it.  This empowers everyone down the line, preventing information from being sequestered, and frees up the time of senior management.  This will make the organization efficient and everyone will be learning.
  • If the lowest paid employees do each task, your cost of labor will decrease.
  • You free up your senior people's time to react to and plan for unexpected challenges and crises.  You essentially take your managers out of crisis manager mode empowering them to become strategic planners.
  • You create a company-wide delegating culture where nobody is irreplaceable.  This means anyone can get sick, take vacation, leave the company, telecommute as needed, or get promoted.  All without throwing the organization into chaos.
In the next article we'll discuss how to develop virtually bulletproof strategy while empowering your employees.  And later I'll disclose a way you can provide upward mobility to every employee in even the smallest organizations while sharpening your peoples' skills.  It's all coming your way in the next few weeks.  Until then,

profitable business All!

P.S. One of my favorite books on time management is Morgenstern's "Organizing from the Inside Out"

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