MANY YEARS AGO I coached Kevin, a young manager who had just taken the reins of the facilities department of a major university. At his first staff meeting with his much senior supervisors, he said:
As your manager, I’m here to help you succeed. You already know the goals of our department – to make sure everything works on campus – and you certainly know your jobs very well. My job is to remove obstacles that keep you from succeeding. Then, it’s just you, your staff and the goal line.”
What Sort of Obstacles Was Kevin Referring To?
Things like red tape, office politics, hierarchical nonsense, territorial disputes and so on. Kevin’s message left three critical impressions on his staff:
- Everyone knew that the usual complaints and excuses (Mary didn’t call back or I couldn’t get the information) wouldn’t fly.
- Everyone knew they had a powerful advocate for doing whatever it takes to meet their goals and serve their customers (and on a large campus there were many customers.)
- Everyone understood that the ‘enemy’ was their competitors – the other educational institutions in the area – not ‘those horrible people in accounting.’ The focus was on how we can make this university a super institution.
Smart Moves Questions
- Are you an absentee manager or one who is an obstacle remover?
- Do you stand back from the action assuming you can’t change things?
- Or do you do whatever it takes to help your people reach the goal line?
- What obstacles are getting in the way of your people doing their job?
- What can you do right now to change that?
Have you been in Kevin’s shoes – managing people who were more experienced or senior than you? How did you handle the situation? What are some lessons learned you can pass on to the readers?
Marcia Zidle, a Board Certified Coach, Business Management Consultant and Keynote Speaker, guides entrepreneurial ventures, small to medium size enterprises and NGO’s to grow their organizations AND make a difference in their world. Sign up or Marcia’s monthly newsletter “Authentic Leadership” with added insights, inspiration and intelligence to build Profound Performance.
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