As new managers, do you ever find yourself caught up in the loop of continually fixing problems to get the job done (after all, that is the role; “to get the job done”) only to find yourself in the same place some weeks later? Could this be because of the view you have of the organisation?
I used to wonder why I saw football managers going up into the stand for part of the game and then coming down to the touchline. I discovered why some years ago when invited to go and watch a premier league match. My enthusiasm started to wane each tier of the stand I climbed, and it even turned to disappointment when our seats were on the top tier, the furthest away point from the pitch. However, this soon changed. I was used to watching local games from the pitchside and seeing only the person on the ball and others in the near vicinity. The view I had now enabled me to see all the movement going on both on and off the ball. I was able to identify the structure and strategies in play, and could see opportunities and weaknesses as they arose. You can’t see all that from the pitchside.
It is the same with business management; you can only make decisions on the view you have. As a new manager you will be very busy, working hard and, probably, long hours. Your to-do list is probably five pages long and you will get a tremendous sense of satisfaction ticking these off. But are you making a difference? Look at your to-do list – what does it contain? Probably a lot of things that do not really make a great difference in the long-term to the organisation. We need to be looking at the vital few things that do make a difference.
If you have members of staff that, from time to time, are not performing, you would speak to them about this and perhaps the situation will improve in the short term. What if you were able to look at the bigger picture and a strategy of employee engagement, would this make more of a difference? Similarly, if someone dropped the ball somewhere and affected service or production you would pull them aside to have the obvious discussion. Again, looking at the bigger picture, you may want to consider cultural strategies to ensure that all staff appreciate that their roles and output are aligned to the team, department, and, ultimately, the organisation’s vision and direction. This is the golden thread analogy.
You will not see these opportunities from the pitchside. Take a view from the stand. Look at full picture and, if it needs to be changed, then you will be in a better position to change things for long term benefits of the organisation.
So what stops us taking a different view? It could be lack of skills, lack of confidence, or perhaps it takes us out of our comfort zone. It is certainly more comfortable making decisions that have a quick impact. It is not so comfortable making decisions that need time for change to be seen. However you will not grow as a manager, and your company will not prosper, if you continue to manage from the pitchside.
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