Key 4 in our MWA model for the ‘Ohana in Business, is, The Role of the Manager Reconstructed. (It appears at the end of this post, if you’d like to scroll down for a quick review, or you can take this link to review it in the context of all 9 Key Concepts.)
If you have read Managing with Aloha, you know that a core theme of my management philosophy is intention — managing for all the right reasons, and chiefly because you want to be a manager. Title (control, power, perks), positioning (advancement, influence, access) and compensation aren’t your underlying motivators; they’re fringe benefits to the happy fact that you get to do what you love to do: Pursue a worthy cause with a team of great partners — a team of people you will support and help grow.
Your role is that of coach and mentor.
If you agree with me, Managing with Aloha is your HO‘OHANA too, just as it is mine. You are willing to shout your PONO reasons from a hilltop (“I’m a manager!”) and you are eager to demonstrate your commitment to your calling in every action you take (A Manager’s Calling: The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers).
You know your sweet spot when this actually happens. The work you do feels deliciously nourishing and rewarding.
Is the picture still fuzzy?
A common challenge is that ‘coach and mentor’ is often considered the ‘soft stuff’ in a manager’s work, the broad brush stroke with very few specs to tangibly back it up, or the ideal people shoot for as a future goal. It remains an ideal forever, because we neglected to make it achievable. A manager’s day-to-day work gets littered with a lot of other system and process detail, and you can’t ignore those details. Not only do they take precedence, they stubbornly and persistently creep into everything else.
What you can do however, is reconstruct the expectations about how that stuff is handled, and reassess who should handle it. You serve others as you do this, and more importantly, you clear the way so you can work on those good intentions of your own calling.
Our conversation continues…
Last time, we spoke of Purposeful Following, where we follow cause, mission and vision, not another person. Leader or informal leader can be an apt description of the way you approach your purposeful following, so I followed up with this article as a kind of drill down of Less is More, where we filter those purposeful following objectives with the real, day-to-day work of your role as an Alaka‘i Manager. Starting 2013 with a clearer understanding of your role, and confident commitment to your role, is the fabulous readiness which will also serve as a constant source of energy for you. Dream it, design it, plan it, then Ho‘o — make it happen.
Sketch out a blueprint for your Role Reconstruction.
We call for a role reconstruction in Key 4 of our model, because many bosses and business owners will agree with me in theory, but we see the opposite in how day-to-day work actually happens in their workplace culture. See: Give Managers Their Chance to Excel.
It may go even further, to where living, working, managing, and leading with ALOHA isn’t just agreeable theory, but actually expected. This is where Key 4 of our culture-building model MUST kick in, with a reconstruction of the actual work those managers are expected to perform.
Connect the dots…
A Job Description
must match up with all Job Expectations,
so Work Execution can reasonably follow
within Purposeful Following of Mission and Vision.
As an Alaka‘i Manager, this matching up of what is expected and what actually gets done, is the essence of what you deliver for your team. You deliver it daily, ‘getting their work to make sense.’
If your boss isn’t doing the same thing for YOU, do it for yourself. Be the General Contractor of your own management job reconstruction. Build it as you want to be doing it, or you may never get to do it that way.
Make it your W-I-P: I say to “sketch out” your blueprint so you’ll think of it — and actually tackle it — as your work-in-progress. Your sketch will change constantly as your work changes; it’s not an artsy design you look at longingly.
I’m guessing that your first reaction will be, “I try, believe me, I try.” for that’s usually the response I get when starting one of my coaching programs for someone. Well, as Yoda would say, “No! Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”
Drill it down, focus in, and cut to the chase.
Turn your sketch into a plan for each day. Make it a plan of incremental action that will cut through the mire of day-to-day stuff, with one small win at a time.
This plan is not rocket science, and no market research is involved. This is a plan which comes from your gut feelings about it, tapping into your wants and trusting your intuition. You know how your work must shift to make room for your better intentions, I know you do: Write it down so your next-stepping is clear, and so you have a daily list to pick from and get done.
‘Managing’ and ‘management’ can cover an awful lot of stuff. Yet that also means you have choices. One of the best ways to see this is in the analysis of a common position: Not all construction site foremen approach their job in the same way, not even if they belong to an army of foremen tackling identical blueprints in developing a new neighborhood, with projects completed side by side. Which foreman will progress fastest, while still doing quality work without undue shortcuts?
Doing the drill down, and becoming a noteworthy specialist in your HO‘OHANA as an Alaka‘i Manager is expected — so do it.
I call it ‘doing the drill down’ for I see that I keep moving from being a generalist to a specialist, and from making lists of possibilities to eventually working on just one thing on that list — especially when I’m coaching others. If they’re to succeed, we have to choose our habit-changing battles or creative reinventions carefully, and then we have to go all in, and focus on very specific action.
No action, no change. No stickiness.
— Doing the Drill Down, Less is More
You move from trying to doing by having a plan of action. Your plan must have next-stepping detail in it, so you know what you’ll be doing this morning, this afternoon, and tomorrow, taking those incremental steps that result in definitive action. You take the concrete steps and DO what will move you forward progressively.
Do the Sweet Spot exercise: If you were to write your own job description, what would it say? What is managing all about in your HO‘OHANA? Do you remember how I asked the question in that chapter? What would you love to do in your day-to-day Ho‘ohana as a manager, often and intensely?
Conversely, what should you be delegating, or designing out of old-hat work so no one need do it any longer? Put those sacred cows out to pasture.
The key, will usually be lifting yourself out of the trenches. You do this for yourself first, so you can lift yourself out of the fray enough to see everything else, particularly your opportunities.
To use our Reconstruction analogy, you must constantly remind yourself, “I’m the General Contractor.” Not the carpenter, not the plumber, not the electrician. Those are all skilled and noble jobs, but they aren’t your job. Your job is designing the work and the pace of the work, to get it done through others, and get it done in the best possible way.
Beware of self-sabotage!
What most managers do instead of this next-stepping in progress, is plug away, and maintain their status quo. The work you actually perform each day, cannot be the work that keeps you stuck where you are, or worse, will sabotage any forward movement.
The biggest, and worst example of self-sabotage is this attitude, and the actions that usually follow it: “It’s faster if I just do it myself.” No one coached or mentored, not even you. You abandoned that role of coach and mentor. Do WITH others. Don’t do FOR others.
Another version happens when someone comes to you with a question or subtle plea for help or direction, and you respond with, “How did we handle it last time? Just do that again, or find out who did.” There is a difference between routine efficiency and careless stagnation. Once again, no one was trained, encouraged, coached or mentored. You didn’t even bother to engage. Bad impatience trumped good impatience, and you didn’t manage with ALOHA.
Yoda might say you didn’t even try.
Reconstruct in EVERY move you make.
In my most recent conversation connected to this topic, a manager had called me asking for my advice in moving from one management position to another. It would be a promotion from within, and so his fear — quite wisely anticipated — was that both he and his boss would make too many assumptions about how he would handle the newly offered role, for they already knew each other so well.
“I don’t want it to be same old, same old, in a new suit of clothes,” he said. “What must we be sure to talk about, so it will be different, and it will be better, and so our expectations are clear?”
Turns out, they had to talk about a lot. He wanted the work of that proposed position to change. His boss didn’t.
If you’re making any kind of management move whatsoever, seize your opportunity to construct and reconstruct that role: Approach it as your new sketch. Never accept any stock Job Description — as an Alaka‘i Manager, you’re in the big leagues now! Take the initiative of writing your own Job Description and presenting it as your offer of job acceptance, writing it for your sweet spot in Ho‘ohana work (Key Concepts 2 and 4) and Palena ‘ole growth (Key Concept 9).
It’ll be the same exercise. The only difference is that you’re teaming up with your boss in work design this time, and you’ll ask for agreement and support, just the way it should be in assuring you have his or her partnership.
Make it a conversation in which you create the best expectation of what you know you can deliver win-win success with. Paint that picture, and no prospective boss will be able to turn you down. They’ll be eager to get started, and so will you.
Key 4. THE ROLE OF THE MANAGER RECONSTRUCTED:
Managers must own workplace engagement and be comfortable with facilitating change, creative innovation, and development of the human asset. The “reconstruction” we require in Managing with Aloha is so this expectation of the Alaka‘i Manager is both reasonable and possible, and so they can channel human energies as our most important resource, they themselves having the time, energy, and support needed in doing so. Convention may work against us, where historically, people have become managers for reasons other than the right one: Managing is their calling. A new role for managers must be explicitly valued by the entire organization as critically important to their better success: Managers can then have ‘personal bandwidth’ for assuming a newly reinvented role, one which delivers better results both personally and professionally, and in their stewardship of the workplace culture.
Read more: The 9 Key Concepts of Managing with Aloha