"Frank's skill in asking the right questions is un-mistakable, and is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

The power of these questions cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to lead and not manage."
—John Cave
Westhaven Worldwide Logistics

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Let Everything Go Uncontrolled

Trusting the team doesn’t mean giving up control. The issue for most managers isn’t whether to exert control, but how to do it.
To begin with, the team needs to demonstrate that it’s worthy of trust. That comes not only from the team’s actions, but the interactions between the team and the manager. If you don’t know what your employees are doing—and if they don’t know what you want them to do—how can you develop trust and understanding?

    A team that has no one in control will likely fare worse than one that’s badly controlled. Managers need to have the courage to take charge. If they do it in a spirit of shared goals with the team members, it will build mutual respect and understanding. The concept isn’t really complicated. Yet think of all the managers you know who struggle to build trust and respect with the team.

Are you building trust? Respect?

Is it easy?

“Drive thy business, let not that drive thee.”
Benjamin Franklin
    Inc. Magazine talks about workers stating that routine maintenance had been performed as part of their daily duties. During a failure of the machine it became obvious that this maintenance was never done.

When did you control the last time? If not you—who is controlling?

Are you controlling the goals you have set with the team?

What do you control?

How often do you control? Too often? Not often enough?

Do you have standard operating procedures in place for frequently reoccurring situations?


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Nobody Takes Responsibility for the Team

“People think responsibility is hard to bear. It’s not. I think that sometimes it is the absence of responsibility that is harder to bear. You have a great feeling of impotence.”
Henry Kissinger
Managers have different ways of dealing with people, and most employees understand that. The problem is when the manager doesn’t convey a sense of responsibility for them and their jobs. Successful managers care about their staff and their achievements. Employees who don’t feel that the manager cares will almost always fail to perform at their highest levels. Responsibility takes many forms. This is about how the manager comes across, not what the manager really does. Not showing that you care will cost you and your business.

    I know of one senior manager who earned a reputation among his peers and employees as the company’s most caring manager. What did he do? He let employees know that their families came first. If an employee had to take time off to stay home with a sick child, the manager didn’t make that person feel guilty or less committed to the company. Instead, he would work with individuals to help them accommodate their family needs with their responsibilities on the job. The result was that the employees were more motivated because they felt an increased responsibility to the manager.

Are you forgetting that you are the boss?

Can team members come to their manager with their problems?

Do they? And if they don’t—why not?

Do you take responsibility?


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Demand and Encourage

How can you demand everything you can get from your team without overtaxing everyone? Too often management sets goals without considering the weaknesses and strengths of the team members. Worse still is when management sets goals for the staff that it doesn’t hold itself to. Sometimes the issue can be as simple as ignoring the calendar. What do I mean by that? Consider the following instructive story.

    A company botched up a huge project, partly because the project represented more work than it could handle. Or was it? The projects time line was supposed to run from November thru February—which of course includes several major holidays for a number of cultures. Employees were forced to work long hours during the holiday season, with little support from management. Why so little support? Because top managers weren’t around. They had chosen that same time to take “well-deserved” vacations. We can’t know whether the project could have been completed on schedule if management had been more involved, but it’s hard to imagine that the staffers were feeling particularly motivated during those long hours of work.

Are goals extremely high—but still reachable?

Is know-how seen as an investment?

Does management keep the teams’ morale up?

Have incentives for them?

Do you demand the best while giving the best support?


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Ignore Standards

There’s no shortage of standards in the business world; sometimes it seems that even standards have standards. Some people equate standards with bureaucracy, but in fact bureaucracy is more about regulations than standards. Still, standards themselves can often be cumbersome—especially when there seems to be competing standards governing the same project. Having said that, what do you suppose would happen if we had no standards at all? Worse still, what would happen if each individual employee worked according to his or her own standards?

    If a company has no standards to follow, its culture will seem inconsistent from the inside as well as the outside. On the other hand, standards have to reflect the work, the culture, and the people at hand. Sometimes you need to adjust or even change standards. It’s a matter of deciding when change is needed and when the status quo is the best choice. Let’s face it: things change, and if you want to keep pace, you have to change, too.
“The quality of an individual is reflected in the standards they set for themselves”.
Ray Kroc

Do you have standards?

Do you control how standards are followed?

Does the team know the standards? Are they realistic?

Are standards reviewed?


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Tolerate Negligence

One employee’s negligent behavior will always reflect on the whole company. By negligent I mean careless, inattentive, or somehow inappropriate to the situation. The number of consumer complaints about careless employees has increased over the years. Companies should be mindful of this because dissatisfied customers react—usually by taking their business elsewhere.

    Think about how you change your shopping behavior after you’ve had a bad experience with an employee. Yet many companies do nothing to fix this. And don’t think negligence is always about ignoring the rules. Sometimes it’s about following the rules a little too closely. Seth Godin provides a perfect example of this in his blog: a customer who’s been banking at the same branch for 70 years has her signature routinely checked whenever she goes in to cash a check.7

Are you thoroughly checking new (and old) employees?

Are you keeping an eye on your teams activities?

7 http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/08/clueless.html external

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