on... Management: Building your own Obsolescence

Good management boils down to three things:

1.     Recruiting the right people

2.     Equipping them to do the job (tools and training)

3.     Letting them get on with it 

If they can’t get on with it, it’s your failure because you recruited the wrong person or failed to equip them properly in the first place.

Without actually believing your employees are animals…there is absolutely ‘no point in buying a dog and then barking yourself’. A manager is likely to have certain tasks which only s/he can perform – as an employee unique within the organisation. But as a manager they should aim for redundancy as quickly as possible. Delegation to the lowest appropriate level is not only resource-efficient but leads to happier, more engaged and productive employees. 

What takes skill is deciding what that ‘appropriate level’ is. 

Again, without believing that real people can be labelled as forms of transport, most organisations need a mixture of (effective and efficient) ‘trains’, ‘buses’ and ‘taxis’: 

·       Trains – are good at following procedures, and working well with systems, processes and regulations…the railway lines. The finance and HR departments would cease to function without some really competent trains who can move swiftly down the tracks and will stop at each station the timetable requires. 

·       Buses – are even more valuable because, while they are able to follow prescribed routes, they can switch and adapt in response to  road works and burst water-mains and still deliver their passengers to (or very near) their destinations in a timely manner. 

·       Taxis – will be the highest paid employees. Tell them where they are starting from and where they are supposed to arrive, and they will drive off according to their knowledge and experience, adapting to road conditions in the most creative and flexible way. 

But this is where one comes back to the original role of the manager. If the wrong people have been recruited or they have not been equipped (with recently serviced vehicles and coherent directions and timetables) the ‘Train’ will stop at the first leaf on the track and fail to ring the Fat Controller; the ‘Bus’ will park and sit in a café if both the primary and secondary routes are blocked; and the ‘Taxi’ will reach the destination five hours late because s/he slavishly followed their navigator without applying any commonsense. 

The primary task of a manager is to build their own obsolescence.

It can be simply stated… but only a fool would think it is easy to do in practice. And if you succeed what then? That’s when you can really show leadership by determining the strategy, setting the tone and defining the direction and purpose. 

Leadership is what you’ve time for when you’ve delegated everything else.

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