Monday, November 29, 2010

Facilitate and Nudge

You've seen symphony conductors who seem to be requesting greater volume or urging a lessening of effort. Observers as diverse as Peter Drucker and Joseph Stalin have noticed the similarity with management. Others have seen the manager's job as closer to that of the lead jazz musician in a group where improvisation is the rule.

Whatever the view, the manager is often facilitating and nudging. It helps enormously if the members can anticipate the need without encouragement or command but in many instances that is the ideal rather than the reality. Even if the group is in great shape, time will diminish its effectiveness unless there are frequent discussions of what's important. You can never afford to set the controls and walk away.

Harry Truman said that much of management consists of telling people to do what they should have known to do in the first place. Many of us will sympathize with President Truman's view and yet we can also recall times when what seemed obvious to the person on top wasn't so to those at other levels of the organization.

The workplace is often divided between those who feel that they shouldn't have to say what they want and those who are inwardly shouting, "Tell us what you want!"

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