Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dissent and Other Keys to Success

Even in the worst of times, Bad Management causes dissension. In "Developing Managers for Team-Driven Success" (Baseline Magazine, November 2009) William Moskal identified several examples of bad management behavior:
  • Micromanagement: "Decisions are imposed, not delegated."
  • Communication gaps: "Goals, strategies, expectations and timelines are not shared. Feedback is withheld."
  • Inconsistency: "Abrupt reversals, deadline changes and frequent new priorities." (Although in fairness to everyone, that's really become fairly typical in many (most?) organizations, hasn't it?!)
  • Intimidation: "A disproportionate focus on discipline, not coaching, including public criticism and rudeness."
  • Self-promotion: "Opportunities are not shared, and credit is hoarded."
  • Lack of mentoring: "Managers are not groomed for advancement. Cross-training is not encouraged and access to upper management is restricted."

"The reassuring news," says Moskal, "is that managers who unwittingly build barriers can also remove them." (Yes, when it comes to professional development, sometimes you actually can teach old dogs new tricks!) His solution: "Senior executives should take a wide-angle look to identify opportunities to empower and motivate front-line managers, while avoiding corrective approaches that stigmatize and single out individuals."

Okay. Anyway, he also had an excellent approach to helping managers improve their engagement, strategic analysis skills, and conflict management capabilities:

Have each executive establish - and rotate - an "official dissent" role among his/her direct reports.

Per Moskal, "Sanctioned opposition can be a powerful tool for collaborative decision-making, analytic skill-building and improved outcomes." I agree. It 'permissions' the quiet ones to speak up. It encourages those who always play 'devil's advocate' to stretch beyond just that.

(Hmm, dissenting with the official dissenter is tantamount to agreeing with the original idea, is it not?! And agreeing with the dissenter is, well, agreeing! Watch out you devil's advocates out there, this official dissent thing could rock your world! )

Having an official dissent role in your organization might unlock some truly superb ideas. And in these worst of times, superb ideas are exactly what's needed, are they not?!

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Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

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