Is Your Team Manager Dependent or Systems Dependent?

If yes, it’s holding you back.

I want to talk to and today about a transformation. Do you need to transform from manager dependent way of leading people to a systems dependent method? Why is it important for your team to transform to systems dependent? There are three main reasons why: improving employee engagement; innovation; and performance.

I was at West Point helping to facilitate training for major manufacturer. I stayed at the Thayer hotel. They had a new system that forced you to put your room key into a slot when you entered the room in order to turn on the lights. When you left you took your key and all the lights went out. It saved time because people did not misplace their key. It saved money because people did not leave their lights on. This is a system dependent way to manage keys and lights. Normally is it a memory dependent process which costs more and wastes time.

Are you encouraging manager dependency? Are you encouraging the concept of system dependent and self-management? Think about it. We self-manage when we are home. Why can’t we self-manage when we are a work? If we know our purpose for taking action; if we know our vision; and if we have a strategy; why can’t we take action without supervision? We do it at home. Why can’t we set up a system so it can happen at work?

There is a useful metaphor which demonstrates this idea. The formula one race team pit crew. They have between 4-10 seconds to get the car back on the track. Their vision is winning the race. Their purpose is to refuel and replace rubber efficiently and effectively. Their strategy is for each member to know exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it. They train and practice and communicate. The pit crew doesn’t have a manager barking orders. It doesn’t have a manager standing by answering questions or letting people know they have an “open door policy”. They self-manage.

There are three levels of dependency. At which level does your team operate? Level one is where team members are afraid to take action. They come to you for ideas because they are either afraid to be innovative or they have no ideas of their own. They probably feel it is not their job. It’s your job. In their mind they don’t get paid to create new ideas.

Level two still has fear but it’s less. At this level team members think up ways to take action but they come to you for permission to take action. They fear taking action without your approval.

Level three is self-managing. Team members understand their roles and responsibilities and are clear about the processes they must manage. They are like the pit crew.

At which level does your team perform? Are you sending messages that prevent them from being at level 3? The leader is the one who can either boost or the one damaging the team performance and profit potential. Do you lack trust in them? Is it because they don’t have predictable processes that they can manage and measure on their own? Is it because they are unclear about their vision, mission, strategy and process? Is it because you have not given them the tools to self-manage? You can fix this. It’s doable. It requires a deeper understanding of self-organizing systems and a letting go of the leadership model we have been taught for well over 100 years. Let go. Get going.Manager-Dependent (857x1280)

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