Did you enjoy the game yesterday? Last week I talked about Flexibility and Control. As I was watching the Superbowl yesterday, I realize we were witnessing the balance of flexibility and control firsthand. For each play, the quarterback has a few plays he’ll call in the huddle. This is the control. When he gets to the line, he surveys the defense, and then has the flexibility to call an audible (change the play) based on the conditions he sees. Additionally, coaches start the game with a specific game plan, but will often adjust based on what is working and what isn’t. The next thing you’ll see in the NFL is a bunch of coaching changes as some coaches are fired, others promoted. This week’s blog discusses changing management and what that means in your company.
I once worked with a group of mid-level professionals that were frustrated with what they perceived as rotating management. Every few years, they would have new managers and they felt the inconsistencies was hurting their career. I mean, I get it. Just when they thought they knew what was expected someone else comes in with new ideas, new direction, and a new focus. This is challenging. They wanted to know why managers in their company rotated every two to three years, and why is this a good thing (or is it)?
In my above example, as that company was evolving and maturing, there were different needs. Even if you take a long-term project, there are different skills needed when planning, executing, and closing out a project. One person might not be good at all three phases, therefore different people are needed to ensure continuing success.
As a company progresses, there are different leadership skills needed along the way. For example, when a company is in its infancy, leadership must be quick and responsive. Your processes and procedures (if you even have them) are not optimized. Everyone on your team probably wears several hats, from sales to manufacturing, to maybe even financing and cleaning the shop. When the company matures, and you start hiring more. Then with more people you have to set job descriptions, procedures and processes to maintain consistency and predictability.
Rotating management also helps with career progression. I once worked with a manager that had basically been doing the same job for about fifteen years. He was probably about fifteen years from retirement, so my projection is he was going to keep doing the same thing for the next fifteen years. Eventually he’d see his colleagues move up the ranks, become peers, and eventually get promoted up the ladder. Why?
Well, he found himself in a niche, something where he provided value, and where he was comfortable and secure. He never took on new challenges (just variations of the same challenge) and didn’t develop new skills. He had a very narrow focus and struggled to see the “big picture”. As a result, there was no career progression, no advancement, and he wasn’t providing greater value to the company. His pay eventually maxed out, and he was destined to spend most of his career doing the same job. Job rotations are essential to updating, honing and developing new skills and perspective to grow in your own career.
One of the big reasons for rotating management (or hiring a consultant) is to get a fresh perspective on existing problems. Often, leaders get so stuck in their paradigms they just can’t see how to get out of their own way. One of my favorite assignments was taking over a department that was struggling to find the success they had seen for decades. I brought with me a different paradigm, new ideas and was able to help them start to regain the success they were accustomed to having.
Rotating management, or bringing in new management, who isn’t immersed in your culture, will bring in a different perspective on your problems. Often there could be a natural resistance to that change, but when you can overcome that resistance progress happens.
This Week’s Challenge
How does your company make sure your leadership has the skills for where your company is, and where it is going? If you need help identifying what skills are needed, please contact us to learn how we can help!