Granted, there are many different kinds of “doing.”
For some kinds of jobs, progress can be measured in discussions held and decisions made. This is one of the adjustments that many people have to make when they are promoted into their first management job: Instead of directly delivering results, the job is to make decisions and support others who are making the “useful” contributions.
But management itself is a useful job, just in a different way. It’s all about organizing, clarifying, communicating, and deciding. “Fluffy” stuff to those who don’t understand how hard this can be.
One of your jobs as a leader is to set tangible goals for your people, then work with them to help them understand and be motivated by the value that this provides for customers, for partners, for the business. You want to help them be so excited by what they’re delivering that they’ll take the initiative to do even more of it, more efficiently, and with greater value.
This is what makes your group an engine of value and profit.
Of course there may be people who can never really get excited about the value that you’re defining. It’s just human nature: different people like different things. In this case, you have a fundamental choice: Either help move them into a situation which is better suited to their desires, adapt the job more to their personal goals, or find a complementary statement of “value” which is more to their liking.
Let me give you an example. Joe worked for me in a group which developed a particular software product. He was pretty good at that development, but it wasn’t a very motivating result. But I needed his skills, and didn’t want to move him to another group just because of this. Instead, through several discussions, we discovered that he really got turned on by seeing customers who were satisfied with his work. So I was able to build more customer contact into his job – he led the team’s efforts in tracking customer quality. A couple of years later, having learned this about himself, he moved into a career path which was exclusively focused on customer service.
It’s important to point out that Joe was quite effective at software development, but not because that activity was fun for him. For him, it was the means to an end of being able to be energized by customers who would be using the software he developed. But that was quite OK for me and him – we both got what we wanted, with passion, energy, and high productivity.
How can you help your people to understand and get inspired by the value they provide?
- Is your coaching program on track?
- Leadership principle #2: People need a purpose
- Leadership principle #1: Get people involved
- Finding the possibilities
- The servant leader