You are playing the blame game as you are managing messes. What are your excuses?
- You inherited this team from the last manager who was summarily fired for under performance. (Translation: “The dog ate my homework. It is not my fault.”)
- Your sales team is generating more orders than you have capacity to handle. (Translation: “We have no internal forecasting ability and didn’t believe we would be so successful.”)
- Your production team is producing more defective parts than deliverable ones because the specifications you received were not accurate. (Translation: “We do not have in-house capability to accurately read, assess and correct specs.”)
- Your team’s performance is inconsistant. (Translation: “We have no clarity of vision, purpose and direction.”)
You most likely can add to this list of the most common excuses I have heard. However, what do you notice about each of them?
Well done! They are focused on everyone else but you, the manager.
Management messes are the outcome of a manager who is unwilling or unable to assume accountability for their actions. It’s a can of worms, isn’t it?
Managing messes is the management output produced by teams that struggle with clarity of purpose and individual and team competency issues. There’s no strategy in this equation.
If you are managing messes, you constantly ask yourself how you got yourselves into this position in the first place. Determination of the historical context of the situation is an excellent place to start. However, the tendency is for you, as the manager, to blame history and context. You rationalize there is nothing you can do to manage your way out of the mess. After all, it is really some higher-up’s problem, anyway.
Pull yourself out of that blame game right now, please. The status quo stops with your decision to stop managing messes and start leading your team.
Begin by identifying all the assumptions you make. Stop assuming. Start clarifying.
Teams are comprised of a group of people hired at various times and given the same job title by HR, who assumes they all have the minimum viable level of competency to fulfill their job descriptions. Because you all work for the same company, you assume that team members are equally committed to your company vision and value proposition.
Just because they have the same job title doesn’t equate with the team’s being on the same page regarding how to throughput the hand-off of strategy for execution. Just because your company created vision and value proposition statements doesn’t mean that your team members share the same level of commitment to them.
Great teams include everyone in those conversations. See where you end up. You may just have begun managing – and leading – your way out of a mess.
Babette N. Ten Haken is a management strategist and team-building leadership coach. She helps teams, startups and businesses who wrestle with unpredictable revenue streams. Her Workshops and Playbooks create more productive and profitable teams in healthier organizations. Her Playbook on leadership and business strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.