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Management Failure: The Minion-Minded Manager
Why do managers fail? Several managers were asked the same question. The top answers include lack of experience, lack of knowledge and skills and lack of confidence. Although these answers are contributory to the failure of managers, I believe there’s something deeper to consider.
Some managers spend years honing their knowledge and skills but to no avail. In spite of all those self-help books, management seminars even personal coaching, they are still in a dismal place. In contrast, there are newbies who perform at astonishing rates. So why are there excellent managers and why are there pathetic ones? Is it because of their experience - or the lack thereof? Is it their knowledge and skills? Is it the absence of confidence? Well, the truth is I don’t know. But I believe successful managers took on the responsibility while the pathetic ones simply took on the title.
The Minion Minded-Manger
I use the term “minion” not as a derogatory term. Rather, it illustrates that minions are followers. Moreover, minion-minded manager emphasizes the failure to think like a manager.
On the other hand, model managers make a shift in paradigm. Obviously this has been said countless of times before. Nevertheless, only a few take heed. Here are a few differences between being minion-minded and being a model manager . In addition, allow me to suggest ways to break the old habits.
1. Personal growth vs. team growth
First of all, there is nothing wrong with thinking of one’s personal growth. In fact, you need to this. Although as a manager, your plans must include every person in the team. Minion-mindedness overlooks the importance of individual performance in creating a stronger and more productive team. So go ahead and think about your own growth and development. However, never forget to consider your people’s growth and development as well. Every person’s improvement is another step towards a more reliable and productive team.
Breaking the habit:
"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they are going to be dead by midnight. Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster. Your life will never be the same again.” Og Mandino couldn’t have set it better. In simple terms, nurture your team’s development every day. In addition, remember that your team is as good as the weakest person. As such, know the weaknesses of your team and improve them.
Do you still micromanage?
2. Assigned task vs. overall process
Managers must realize that their task is to manage the whole process not just a specific step. A minion-minded manager will focus on one task (even a few at a time) but will rarely consider the big picture. A manager’s ability to accomplish targets is anchored on his capability to oversee the whole process. Moreover, a model manager will try to find ways to innovate the process, improve work conditions, increase productivity and enhance quality of life. This can only be done if the manager let’s go of micromanaging and starts looking at the bigger picture.
Breaking the habit:
Many managers think that the best way to do things right is to do it themselves. Your team members may not have the same level of proficiency compared to you but you cannot do everything on your own. Anthea Turner aptly illustrates this when she said, “The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try to do everything yourself because you can’t.” Break this nasty minion-minded habit by delegating tasks. If the assigned person does not produce at par with your expectations then coach him/her to do better. Learn to trust and delegate.
3. Personal achievement vs. team accomplishments
Challenges whether small or gargantuan are a source of personal achievements. Cultivate the appreciation of personal victories. Many managers leave it at that. But do not stop there! Instead consider the value of team accomplishments. Moreover, instill shared responsibility to strengthen the commitment of every person. A minion-minded manager will simply focus on individual accomplishments. A model manager will go beyond.
Remember, excellent teams help each other grow. Nurturing each one will eventually benefit the whole team
Breaking the habit:
Share the department’s goals with everyone. Nothing can motivate people than knowing the reasons for their labors. Furthermore, show how one’s outputs are interconnected to other person’s tasks. By doing this, everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. It’s the team that benefits when everyone sees their task in relation to the team’s goals. Pat Riley, an accomplished NBA executive and coach puts this idea clearly, “Great teamwork is the only way we can create the breakthroughs that define our careers.”
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4. Impact on me vs. impact on the department/company
What will it benefit you to accomplish a certain task? This is a logical question before you commit yourself to an endeavor. Though this is accepted by many, it is a minion-minded manager’s way of seeing the cause and effect. In contrast, a model manager will consider the impact of his actions beyond his self. Minion-minded managers fail to recognize how their actions affect the department and the organizations – and even the whole industry.
Breaking the habit:
Think like a chess player. Instead of simply considering the immediate outcome of your actions, consider several steps ahead. Forethought allows model manager to assess different scenarios and come up with the best solution. Like stones thrown into a pond, ripples radiate outwards. So consider what happens to the people under you and the people above you. No action is so isolated that it will not affect anyone other than you.
Minion-minded managers are the ones who fail. They take on the title of manager but fail to think and act like one. The right mindset will propel you from a minion-minded manager to a model manager.
This shift in mindset is not just pivotal to the company's success. But to your own success as well. If you wish to be successful as a manager, you need to get rid of the unproductive behaviors and mindset and start acting and thinking like a manager now.