You must have heard of ‘Management By Walking Around’, variously attributed to managers at Hewlett Packard, or Tom Peters in his book ‘In Search of Excellence’. By wandering about, it’s expected that managers will randomly interact with colleagues, pick up on issues, motivate employees, and facilitate improvements in processes.
I’m actually a bit of a fan of that approach, because I’ve done it, and it seemed to work. To a degree.
But I think there’s a more powerful management style than MBWA. You read it here first. It’s MBRAE – Management By Removing All Excuses.
You discover that a colleague is not succeeding. But are they really falling short, or is it something, or someone else? You need to know where the problem really lies in order to manage it. And you need to make sure that your failing colleague is given the best chance to overcome their difficulties.
Have You Removed All Excuses?
Did you do what you could reasonably do to make sure that they would succeed? Did you provide enough guidance on the goals? Did you provide the resources that were reasonably needed? Did you do all that you could to facilitate understanding and support with their other colleagues? Did you provide the training that they needed and could reasonably be paid for?
In other words, did you remove all excuses? Did you make it possible for them to succeed and remove all excuses for failure?
This MBRAE routine has worked for me, but it’s a really tough road.
A Tough Discipline For You Too
First of all, you not only have to remove the excuses for the colleague you’re trying to help, but also for yourself. You have to be sure that you do have enough time, you do care enough about the people you’re managing, you do want them to really succeed. This is a 360 degree thing, where the scrutiny is on you as a manager just as much as it on the person or team you’re managing.
Secondly, you have to figure out what ‘reasonable’ is. I’m not trying to persuade you to use limitless resources of money and time. No business can afford that. Your job as a manager is to figure out what can reasonably be provided to help someone do a great job, and then make sure they get it. Because then you’ll have removed all excuses.
Try it. It’s a tough discipline for you to follow as a manager, but I know it works.
Let me know what you think in the comments.