When managers have worked hard to develop complex plans, and then even harder to get them approved for execution, they sometimes become a little over-eager to cross the starting line. Impatience at the prospect of any further delay sets in.
No need to brief-up the employees on this. The plan is management-stuff anyway – above their pay-grade – the staff’s relationship to it is only to do the designated work. Explaining it all to them would take still more time, quite possibly just create confusion, and – heaven forfend – might even produce yet more unanticipated criticisms and the attendant additional delays. Why invite trouble? Let’s just get this train out of the station. The employees can deal with their specific instructions, and we in management will keep everything on the tracks.
Ever hear anything like that? It might even call to mind a dynamic, forceful headquarters, humming with creativity and bustling with managerial activity, receiving reports and immediately issuing decisive, no-nonsense orders – on top of things, in charge of events.
But the further away you get from HQ the more mechanical, even plodding – even disconnected – the scene becomes. From driving to driven, from energized to enervated.
Actually, while the headquarters of the most effective organizations I’ve seen certainly radiate energy and purpose, that radiation gains in force as it emanates throughout the organization, transforming into energetic and purposeful activity. The center is focused, but calmly alert. The operating units are galvanized; they are fully engaged and bustling. All know where the train is going and all are working together to keep it on the tracks.
What might account for the difference between such organizations?
Perspective. Where it is present, activity is biased toward integration and collaboration, toward mission accomplishment.
Conceptually, it’s simple: management has informed the workers of the import of their work, and continues to do so of its impact on progress.
In practice, it can require as much perseverance and dedication as any managerial task – and certainly return as much or more on the investment.
It is useful for managers to look at this issue from two, well . . . perspectives:
- Organizational mission
- Organizational design
And we will do the same over the next few posts. See you next week!