Why Management Innovation Matters8 min read
Think about what holds back the performance of your organization. Since we all know the best practices to be used within our companies and on our projects, odds are that it is not an operating model, nor a business model—it is a management model.
Compared to the changes in technology over the past ten years, the practice of management seems to have been evolving at a snail’s pace. In the past 20 years, compare innovations in management styles with robotics, smart devices, self-driving cars, and many others. Innovations need to be made to everyone’s day-to-day job. While developing a product, consider upfront what future trends are and be a leader rather than a follower.
Best of the Best
According to M. P. Follett, an American philosopher and pioneer in the fields of organizational theory and organizational behavior, the most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders. I follow the practice of hiring only the brightest of the bright. Having such leaders in your team will bring the team to greater performance since everyone will try to immitate the same behavior. You also need to think about your team as a community of friends who are not just participating in the team-building activities, but have common hobbies and interests outside of work. Acknowledging that your employees are not only teammates but also friends will contribute to building proper commitments for your project growth.
Let me share some tips on how to hire best of the best to form the core of your leadership teams.
- Interview at least 10-15 candidates for one position to be fully confident in your choice.
- Within SoftServe University, place an expert in each group and interview each trainee to identify the best. Check not only tech skills but analytical and behavioral ones as well. You may speed up this process by having tests implemented that will give you at least some percentage score for each potential employee. With a proper testing system in place, you may save time on your tech leads during the evaluation.
- Get to know the job requirements well so that the employee’s capabilities fully match the client’s expectations.
What Contributes to the Long-Term Business Relationships?
What contributes to long-term business relationships? Not operational excellence or new business models, but new ways of cultivating the talent and creativity of our team members.
One of the approaches I have tried relates to quarterly rewards for excellent team performance. Teams are assessed against quarterly performance targets: if the team members succeed in meeting these targets, they receive a bonus. As Garry Hamel and Bill Breen state in their book, The Future of Management, since the rewards are team-based, the team members have little tolerance for those who do not pull their weight. The authors distinguish the following advantages that we can gain from using this approach:
- First-line employees are responsible for results.
- Team members have access to real-time performance data.
- Team members have decision authority that influences performance outcomes.
- There is a tight connection between results, compensation, and recognition.
Gary Hamel and Bill Breen additionally suggest interesting analogies based on Jane Jacobs’s design rules: streets in such big cities as New York or Austin. Most blocks must be short, which means that there are many streets and many opportunities to turn corners. Shorter blocks and more intersections create more potential routes from point A to point B. The analogy here for managers is not so much about street des ign, but project design. Extensive use of short-duration teams, with individuals frequently rotating the teams, is one of the ways of keeping the “blocks short.”
Market demands are more dynamic than hierarchies we try to build within our teams. If an employee has no interest in a product or project, it will be very hard to succeed in such situation—thus, work on their motivation.
Each management system for each specific project should be unique. It should rely on the company’s best practices along with team and client specifics. But it’s unrealistic to apply the same rules and practices to different accounts or members. If your team is uncomfortable with a manager, you should go and change him or her, even if you need to make this change several times. If you trust your team, give them the chance to choose their leaders. Do not be afraid to put managers on a trial period. Clients will respect your decision since they are also interested in having the best match possible. I have developed my own framework for choosing the best project manager. It is based on Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence framework and relates to the following skills:
- EQ (emotional intelligence)
- Social awareness
- Project management
- Technical knowledge
- SDLC knowledge
Leadership is a vocation, not a trade. Most companies work hard to hire intellectually gifted employees but, apart from intellect, companies need to think about initiative. People with initiative do not wait to be asked and do not need to be told. Initiative people seek out new challenges and are always searching for new ways to add value.
Each manager should also have his or her own principles in life based on honesty and transparency in order to be consistent and build proper authority in your team.
Some insight on the essential principles of management:
- Ensure that individual efforts correspond to the top-down goals.
- Forecast demand, budget resources, and schedule tasks; then, track and correct deviations from the plan.
- Maintain control of a broad scope of operations.
- Encourage efforts and ensure their compliance within the accepted policies and standards.
- Build a successful team that will deliver an outstanding performance.
The other essential things that contribute to being a good manager include:
These are essential. As with the other forms of innovation, the goal of management innovation should be to improve business results. With this in mind, it is crucial for you to develop clear metrics that can be used to assess and validate the impact of your management innovation.
You need to have passion for solving extraordinary problems, creating the potential for extraordinary accomplishments
I strongly believe that each manager responsible for a certain piece of company’s revenue should have proper incentive systems applied to stimulate better performance.
Managerial motivation instruments
If you want to empower people by managing less while retaining discipline and focus, give your employees wide discretion, provide them with the information they need to make wise decisions, and then hold them accountable for the results. Work with commitments but not assignments. Tasks cannot be just reassigned, they can only be accepted.
With all of above, a manager should be considered a leader.
Leadership and Entrepreneurial Skills
Who are the leaders? True leaders do not rely on their titles to get things done. A leader’s actions should be perfectly understood by the team.
The two top demotivation factors that influence every employee are:
- Delegated management tasks
- Wasted bureaucratic motions (all those should fall on the manager’s shoulders)
It is my firm belief that entrepreneurial skills for managers and leaders also matter. You need to learn those skills as early as possible. Knowing the fundamental nature of each business is the key to success; that is why you need to know how to generate business to be valuable to your client. You have to take risks and you have to expect to be held accountable.
Here are some skills every entrepreneur must have to be successful:
The ability to manage money
If you cannot manage money, you cannot manage a business. Do you know where your money goes each month? If the answer to this question is no, you will struggle to manage a business budget as well.
The ability to identify strengths and weaknesses
You have to understand where you are strong and where you are weak.
The ability to hire effective people
Speaking of hiring, this is one of the most important skills any entrepreneur should have. Having great people in your team will give you access to new strengths as well as to building a company culture that people want to be part of. Hiring the right people is essential to get where you want to go.
The ability to focus on your customers
Without customers, there is no business. Make sure all your products and services are focused on actual customer needs. If you do not know what these are, research and ask questions so that you are able to give excellent customer service.
The ability to see new trends
Business moves fast, so you need the ability to see changes coming in your industry.
Your goal is not to validate today’s management practices, but to reinvent them according to your specific needs. Always choose the best employees, create long-term business relationships, develop an entrepreneurial mindset, and constantly assess how you manage your team to innovate your management model.