Sunday, December 7, 2008

Management without Fear

I was recently posting a tweet on Twitter and engaged in a quick dialog with a dynamic entrepreneur Tracy Rummel (owner of The Brandsoup Agency LLC). She asked me to post her article, "Management without Fear" on my blog, which I agreed to do. Her article does use the term "management," which as a leadership expert, is a term that I define to be quite the opposite of leadership. Management, in my definition is about the non personal aspects of the business. I don't think that people need to be managed. I do believe that people need to be led. I often cringe when people use these two tems interchangably, but I know it is a common mistake. I hope that leaders of people can distinguish the behaviors needed for one versus the other. My book, The Connected and Committed Leader is geared towards helping people redefine what leadership is. It is NOT management. Regardless of this, Tracy's article posted below offers some tips on how to take manage around the economic pressures and lead people towards achieving results.

If you are interested in posting an article, please send me a tweet (ConnectedLeader) or email at

Management without Fear by Tracy Rummel, owner of The Bransoup Agency LLC

In this economic climate it's easy for an organization to dissolve into a reactive environment. Without a strong vision for the company, management and employees can get distracted by the bad news from Wall Street, for other companies' failure and general bad news that seems to surround us these days.

It is well documented that companies that invest in downtimes emerge first, fastest and strongest when the economy begins to recover. It is essential that management remain steadfast in providing a strong vision and clear direction to employees during this time. With employees becoming restless and fearful during this time of bad news at every turn, what can management do to keep everyone focused and create a healthy work environment that encourages innovation, dedication and ultimately yes, success? Here are a few tips:

1. Manage to facts, not perception. Keep a solid benchmark in front of employees about the health of the company, its clients and use key measurements to ensure everyone knows where they are today.

2. When dealing with concerns from employees, help them determine whether it's material or non-material. In other words, is this a concern that really impacts the success of the company? If so, then address it with a plan mapped out to resolve it. If it's not material, in other words it's not relevant to the success of the company, then find out what the source may be and just keep it to the facts. I have found that in times of uncertainty and stress, employees can begin to react out of fear and worry about what their colleagues are doing—management should do what it can to keep employees focused on their own job and keeping their eye on the ball.

3. Frequently do an "environment check." Is there "noise" in the system? What are the internal conversations—again, are they material to the success of the company or are they simply distracting? It's important for managment to keep their finger on the pulse of the organization.

4. Keep things clear. One certain way to help alleviate fears is to clearly define what success looks like. Does every employee in the organization know quite clearly what success looks like for them, and then how that translates to the success of the company? Take the time to do this; it will be well worth it.

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