Managing is a tough gig. 19 million Americans plan to leave their jobs in 2013, at an estimated turnover cost of $3 billion, and many of them will cite their managers as the cause. Meanwhile, the pressure is on for managers to transform into coaches who inspire, retain, and promote top talent. Are you getting nervous yet?
So what’s a manager to do? According to Jody Thompson, author of Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It, the real question is what not to do. “Most managers spend too much time managing people,” she says. “You’re not a babysitter or a hall monitor. Your job is to get results.” The key, according to Jody, is to learn the difference between managing work and managing people. “So many leaders manage by telling people when they need to come in, when they’re allowed to leave, prescribing how many days a week they need to be in the office, etc. It completely misses the point.”
The solution, she claims, is to let people make their own schedules—“We’re all adults!” Jody says—and start focusing on results. “Managing the work means having a performance-oriented conversation about outcomes and measurable results,” she says. “Discuss what is expected of your team. What do they need to deliver? And if they deliver it, who cares if they were in the office or at home? What does it matter if they did it late at night or early in the morning? Nothing but the results matters.”
To stop managing people means giving up longstanding traditions like office hours, vacation days, and sick time. It’s a scary prospect for most managers. “Managers have a hard time letting go of the control of people,” Jody admits. “If Jane doesn’t need to tell you where she’s working from tomorrow, you get nervous. ‘If I don’t know where she is, how do I know she’s working? How do I get a hold of her?’ Welcome to 2013! We have voicemail and email. We get complacent when we think, ‘If my people are around me, then I can go to them. They must be working, because they’re here.’ But that’s not necessarily true.”
Give up the safety net, she advises. “You have to be really good at managing work and performance, not schedules. It’s not easy, but it’s effective.”
Ready to learn how to make the switch? Register for the Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It webinar on February 27th and hear Jody in conversation with Achievers’ Razor Suleman.