RESOURCES - Management Masterclass: The Sins of Management

Today's companies face a daunting array of new make-or-break challenges. Continuous strategic renewal. Relentless innovation. Inspired and motivated employees. But is your organisation a management sinner? Are the basic rules of good management such as open communication, delegation and developmental feedback being flouted?

Professional Managers have a basic duty of care in leading, managing and motivating their teams to achieve lasting success. The pace of change is accelerating and managers must keep up to remain ahead of the competition. However, traditional 20th century management practice and principles are proving inadequate in meeting these challenges head on. For example, as knowledge itself becomes a commodity, value creation will depend on the intangibles of communication, trust and innovation. Unfortunately, management commits the sins of bureaucracy and hierarchy which can discourage employees from exercising these uniquely human qualities.

Innovation is the only antidote to margin crushing competition. All too often, managers commit the corporate sin of denial and inertia resulting in prolonged periods of poor financial performance to provide a catalyst for a radical change in direction. So what can you do to vanquish the most common sins of management and empower your teams to outsmart and beat the competition?

Here are three of the most common sins of management which you commit at your peril.

1. Lack of Communication
Don't be a seagull communicator. According to Ken Blanchard of the 'One Minute Manager' a seagull communicator will swoop down on the team now and again, makes lots of noise and squawk at people then swoop straight back out again. Inadequate communication on direction, systems and business priorities is one of the most common sins cited by British employees. The costs incurred include lack of focus, wasted resources and a sense of 'not belonging'. Be committed to open, informative communication and lead by example. Demonstrate positive body language in meetings and presentations and articulate your messages in a calm, confident and logical manner. More regular communication with your teams will help influence productive behaviour and build valuable qualities of respect, loyalty and integrity. This will have obvious benefits for the reputation and brand of your organisation. Don't take a leap of faith approach though. A professional manager will encourage the sharing of ideas, opinions and thoughts and provide coaching on listening and communication. For example, Fujistsu offer training in 'straight talking' skills for all employees.

2. Lack of Feedback
A feedback famine can lead to individuals feeling undervalued and can impact negatively on productivity and performance. Constructive feedback (both positive and negative) is a vital tool for managers and should be used on a regular basis to create a culture of 'learning by doing'. It facilitates change and helps individuals to learn from failure but also build upon success. How often do you deliver feedback? Is it balanced and focused on developing your team's competencies. To ensure a feedback famine doesn't spread in your department apply the following questions when giving feedback.

It is essential that at the end of a feedback session your team member has a clear plan of action and is motivated to make the change happen successfully. The art of feedback requires discipline of mind, empathy and a positive 'can do' attitude. The organisational benefits will include faster learning, better decision making and higher levels of confidence and initiative.

3. Lack of Delegation
The final sin is a basic lack of delegation. Often a barrier to delegation is fear of loss of control or power. A recent board level client in a major insurance business commented that 'good delegation is not abdication and is the only way to multiply effectiveness and work smarter'. Delegation, therefore, serves both the delegator and delegate in the shape of learning new skills and increasing responsibility. It can also act as a contingency planning tool by growing the talent pool to fill gaps when people leave or go on holiday. What's your process for delegation? The power of delegation as a leadership tool cannot be underestimated. Done well, it will equip your teams with a broader range of skills saving time and boosting productivity. Below is a standard delegation structure.

Use delegation to lead and manage your teams and demonstrate a commitment to an ongoing improvement.

In the 21st Century, the best managers are drawing inspiration from the vanguard of management innovators such as Google, UBS and Tesco. They understand explicitly that by committing the sins of management they run the risk of low morale, high attrition and poor financial performance. Somebody once said that 'success is a lousy teacher'. What will you do today to prevent the same sins being committed?

Terence Mauri is an organisational consultant and business speaker helping clients such as Reed Learning, Zurich and Channel 5 to create high performance cultures.