First, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the strength, wisdom, and commitment you’ve got to lead your co-workers, especially in a company that leads your industry! Second, let’s acknowledge the frequent changes that you have to face and adapt to, while maintaining the course towards your company’s vision and goals. It’s not easy and can be exhausting. Stay the course!
In this month’s article, you’ll learn from a business leader on how to strengthen lines of communication between executives and managers, and what accountability and mico-management “sounds like”.
Last Fall, I had the privilege of spending a weekend with extended family and connect with Mike Druce. Over the past 50 years, Mike had various leadership and executive positions in some major industries:
Waiting for dinner to be served, I realized that Mike was a “goldmine” of business knowledge! So I sat with him and asked him about leadership in the workplace:
Q. What is the most important piece of advice you could give from your experience to a leader or executive?
A. “The biggest obstacles to a successful organization/company is mismanagement of the people and miscommunication.”
Out of all the things he could’ve said that are big obstacles (money, competitive industry, economic downturn, regulations, a pandemic!), he saw “mismanagement” and “miscommunication” as the biggest factors in seeing the success and failure of companies he worked for/with.
There’s a saying, “the problem is also the solution.” In leadership life, it’s very easy to see people as the problem in a company, but Mike sees the people we lead and work with as the key solution to problems in our company. Rarely is a product or service the answer.
Mike briefly shared about leaders that shut down morale, dignity, or team feedback and caused long-term harm, even if short-term results appeared successful. Employee training & performance naturally rise when competent leaders are in place.
This led me to the next question. I was looking for a simple but reliable practice that any leader could do….
Q. What is the top need for Executives/Directors on a weekly basis?
A. Mike said the #1 thing that made a difference for his success was: “One-One meetings (30 min-1hr) with 2 levels of leaders – managers and supervisors they oversee.”
Q. What happens in those one-one meetings?
One time Mike had one of those weekly meetings. When he was done giving updates and discussing business, it was the team leader’s turn to share anything important. The team leader said no, but he did want to announce that his baby was born recently! It was a time of strengthening connections. Those weekly meetings with managers and supervisors strengthened the relationships and common bonds he had in the company.
One important thing leaders can remember to do is to ask for feedback from people they oversee. Naturally, giving constructive feedback to a leader or executive can be intimidating, so it’s up to a leader to keep communication lines open.
Mike also pointed out a key company expectation from all employees that made a huge difference in focus, organization, and productivity: All new employees on day 1 were taught, encouraged, and reminded that they have freedom to ask questions about why a task/procedure was done a particular way. If a supervisor/manager in the next 2 levels above the employee couldn’t answer it, then the director/executive must fully re-evaluate the task or process.
It was PAINFUL, but it was worth it.
This standard practice prevented a lot of wasted time, energy, and money.
Another piece of advice Mike mentioned was, “the job of a manager / executive is obstacle removal and accountability of the work- not micromanagement.”
But what do those words really mean? What do they sound like in a workplace? This graphic describes what it may sound like…
You’ll notice that if more people speak the language of accountability and obstacle removal, not micro-management, there would be an increase in trust in one another. A company with strong ties of trust can do great things.
Mismanagement and miscommunication are obstacles to company success. Here are 3 important ways to reduce them:
1) Have weekly one-one meetings with managers and supervisors, preferably two levels of leadership.
2) Set a company expectation: Asking why a task is important or necessary is welcome. It may be painful for leadership, but it will yield great results.
3) What does your workday sound like? Micromanagement undermines trust in your leaders and teams; Accountability and obstacle removal are important practices that build trust.
Personal Pain and Purpose // Professional Pain and Purpose
Much of what we do centers around these four realities.
As chaplains, we’re navigating these worlds and realities with spiritual intelligence (SQ). We’re pulling from our faith tradition, social science disciplines, business leadership, and even the arts. We’re encouraging change and growth in these four quadrants.
That’s why it’s so vital to have a great working partnership with the CEO, the president, the owner. The company has the capacity to be in the business of helping people grow and change, personally and professionally. As Phil Knight (co founder of Nike) once said after visiting one of his signed athletes at the hospital, “It’s never just business. It never will be. If it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.” Knight understood that business was about people, purpose, coping with pain. It was all encompassing.
In some ways, we function as corporate chaplains (to address personal pain and a seeking of purpose and meaning), but also as corporate consultants (to address professional pain and a seeking of purpose and meaningful work). We long to journey with an employee as we enter into their “inner culture” and learn more about their pain and need for purpose. We also long to journey with the employer as we enter their “work culture” and learn about the company’s pain and drive for purpose.
As chaplains/consultants, we can’t separate these two realities: personal and professional. In the workplace, they’re so intertwined. We’ve tried. It just doesn’t work.
The aim is to be a service that engages the team member where they are and assist in helping them flourish.