Hola, les regalo este artículo que saqué del Harvard Management Update y que a mi me sirvió mucho. Ojalá haga lo propio con ustedes.
Para hoy, una Aquarius de pera bien fría, y el tema Jigsaw falling into place (Radiohead)
Moving from “Me” to “We”
7:53 PM Friday January 16, 2009
by Anne Field
When a top-performing engineer at a pharmaceutical company was promoted to his first management job, he started his duties raring to go. Unfortunately, his great enthusiasm didn’t translate into great performance.
Why? Because he was accustomed to being in the spotlight as an individual performer and winning continual praise for his work, and he assumed it would be business as usual in his new position. What he failed to recognize–what he had never been trained to recognize–was that, as a manager, his focus had to shift from producing results himself to getting the best results from others. So he proceeded to approach his duties in his tried-and-true way: focusing on his own performance and skills, telling everyone else what to do, and generally behaving like the smartest kid in the room.
The result: His team quickly grew to resent their new manager–to such an extent, in fact, that they started to go over his head, complaining about their treatment to higher-ups in the organization.
“His boss was ready to demote him,” says Stanlee Phelps, an executive coach and a senior vice president with Lee Hecht Harrison in Irvine, Calif., who was called in to help turn the new manager’s behavior around.
Thankfully, Phelps’s intervention worked. When, much to the new manager’s surprise, he learned that his department was on the verge of a palace revolt, he agreed to make some changes–asking for other people’s opinions, for example, and regularly rotating responsibility for running meetings among team members. In time, he transformed his approach, and the group’s opinion.
The transition didn’t need to be so challenging. Indeed, there are several steps organizations can take to help individual performers make the transition from a “me” mentality to a “we” mentality. We’ll get to those in a few paragraphs. But, first, it’s important to understand the root of the problem.
A Difficult Shift
Becoming a manager for the first time poses many challenges. One of the more subtle–and difficult–has to do with the necessary shift in mindset: the move from “me” to “we.” At the heart of this challenge is that what got the person promoted–sterling individual performance–is no longer what the job is about. In fact, the new imperative is the opposite–focusing on everyone else: getting the best performance from a team, rather than from just oneself, and developing the skills and potential of direct reports.
As a manager, says Hal Leavitt, Kilpatrick Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, “You’re only going to be as good as your people’s performance.”
Although this may be obvious to experienced managers, it’s not second nature to everyone. And many organizations neglect to make this point explicit when moving high performers into their first management roles. “Generally, no one will have told them the rules have changed,” says Phelps.
What’s more, since their own particular performance brought them success, new managers often assume that their job requires their continuing to do whatever they did before, just more visibly so.
There’s also the matter of something even deeper–how they define themselves. “They have a highly built-up sense of identity based on the performance of technical skills,” says Michael Watkins, professor of practice at Insead, based in Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore, and author of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels. In addition, since many new managers are accustomed to receiving recognition for their own contributions, they might just have a hard time stepping back and letting others share the limelight.
In fact, the move from “me” to “we” is something that managers, if not properly coached, may take years to achieve. “Many people never make this transition,” says Susan Howington, senior vice president and managing director at Lee Hecht Harrison. Thus, it’s critically important for senior executives to take steps as early as possible to help new managers with the switch. Some possible tactics include:
- Assigning a mentor.
- Showing them how they are perceived by their reports.
- Tying key management metrics to pay and promotion.
- Focusing discussions on team members’ efforts.
- Helping them see the bigger picture.
- Modeling appropriate behavior.
Assigning a Mentor
Helping managers develop a new mindset is a long-term process, says Watkins. For that reason, it can be very useful to provide them with a coach or mentor to meet with on an ongoing basis. That might be the person’s boss, but it can also be someone else who enjoys the process of developing skills in junior employees. No matter what, it’s best if the coach and manager can meet face-to-face regularly. If that’s not possible, then try weekly or monthly phone calls.
Part of the mentor’s role is to follow the manager’s progress closely and keep tabs on problems as they arise, so she can step in–before it’s too late.
Richard Lamond, chief human resources officer for Spherion, a staffing and recruiting company headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, cites a chemical engineering company he worked for, where he was assigned to be the coach of a newcomer hired through a college recruiting program. Soon after his arrival, the young man was assigned a rotating position as supervisor in a manufacturing plant. A few months into the new manager’s assignment, during a talk with a superintendent at the plant, Lamond discovered there were problems with his charge. Eager to make a good impression with higher-ups, the new manager had alienated older, more experienced workers by acting in what they saw as a high-handed way: not giving serious consideration to anyone else’s suggestions, failing to develop his direct reports’ skills, and in general just putting himself first.
At their next meeting, Lamond brought the issue to the new manager’s attention. “It could have been a showstopper from the standpoint of advancing further in management ranks, but he prevailed” by working hard to change his approach, says Lamond. After two years, the man went on to become a plant manager.
Showing How They Are Perceived by Their Reports
Often, new managers don’t have a clear understanding of just how “me” focused they are. Probably the most effective way to show them is to do a 360-degree evaluation, so managers can really see what people think of their performance. “It’s like a baseball bat over the head,” says Lee Hecht Harrison’s Phelps. This is especially useful for analytical types who need all the facts before they can be convinced of anything.
No matter who the managers are, however, wait two to three months after they’ve started: you want them to be in the job long enough for others to be able to see them in action but not too long that their behavior becomes deeply embedded.
Phelps points to a newly promoted manager in a construction company who, after being given the results of a 360-degree review, was shocked to learn that her direct reports found her demanding and unwilling to listen to their ideas. An exceptionally brilliant and talented professional, usually several steps ahead of anyone else she worked with, the woman was accustomed to coming up with the best ideas herself and then making them happen on her own. So, she simply continued that behavior as a manager, not realizing she was stepping on team members’ toes–and making them feel incompetent.
Tying Key Management Metrics to Pay and Promotion
Include in managers’ performance reviews their ability to develop and coach their people, as well as how successful their direct reports have been in their work. Note such things as whether their direct reports have been hired by other departments. That’s a sign that the manager has worked effectively at coaching employees and promoting their efforts.
Also, base raise and bonus formulas, at least in part, on the accomplishments of team members. At Fast Search & Transfer, an Oslo-based enterprise search firm, for example, up to 50% of managers’ goals are tied to the successful completion of individual direct reports’ objectives. To push managers to recognize the contributions of all team members, “the company doesn’t celebrate when we land a contract but when we deliver a successful project to a customer,” says Ali Riaz, president and CFO. “That way, the manager is forced to include more parts of the value chain in the event–and think about the group as a whole.”
What’s more, when announcing promotions, Riaz makes a point of praising the individual’s teamwork. “You can’t talk about the importance of the ‘we,’ then promote the ‘me,'” he says.
Focusing Discussions on Team Members’–Not Just the Manager’s–Efforts
If a manager who reports to you doesn’t readily discuss the contributions individual direct reports are making–or tends to take all the credit–don’t let it slide. Make a point, when discussing successful projects, to draw out from the manager the role played by his team. Riaz, for example, regularly sits down with managers after they complete an assignment and asks them to share team members’ contributions.
He recalls one new manager who had created animosity among his direct reports thanks to his tendency to take all the credit for successful projects. So, after one particular project, Riaz sat him down and made him describe just what other people had done. “By the end of the conversation, I learned that five others had helped him and how they’d helped,” he says.
Later, the manager e-mailed the five and thanked each of them for their work. Their attitudes began to change after that–as did his.
Helping Them See the Bigger Picture
The “we” mentality is about more than how managers handle their direct reports. It’s also about embracing the idea that they–and the department they’re heading–are part of a larger organization. “You need to open up the world view of how they fit it into the total picture,” says Howington.
The “we” mentality requires embracing the idea that the manager and her unit are part of a larger organization.
Blythe McGarvie, founder and president of LIF Group, a management consulting firm in Williamsburg, Va., and author of Fit In, Stand Out: Mastering the FISO Factor–The Key to Leadership Effectiveness in Business and Life (McGraw-Hill, 2005), offers a case in point. When she was CFO of a large supermarket chain, she made a point of inviting new managers to cross-functional meetings. She recalls an IT manager who, after attending one such meeting, experienced a real eye-opener regarding a new system under development and how it would fit into the processes of the larger organization.
“After talking to the operations people, he realized, for example, why it was so crucial for the system to work smoothly with the store manager’s job and not require him to make changes in the way he worked,” she says.
The upshot: The manager began to gain new insights into the role he–and his team–played in the company as a whole, a key promoter of “we” thinking.
Modeling Appropriate Behavior
When problems come up, mentors of new managers should point out times that they dealt with similar issues. Spherion’s Lamond, for example, recalls that part of his discussion with that college recruit focused on his own first stabs at management right out of school. Lamond says he related his experiences as a second lieutenant, when he was thrown into command of a group of people, many of whom were older and more experienced than he. He talked about how he initially failed to respect their opinions and how he eventually learned to change his attitude.
By practicing this type of personalization and displaying this level of empathy for the challenges a new manager faces, experienced executives can have a profound impact on the growth of the next generation of organizational leaders.
Analyzing Team Member Styles
Often, new managers figure that the way to make team members successful is by having them work the same way they do. The assumption: That other people are motivated by the things that motivate the manager.
But managers cannot treat direct reports as if they are simply differently sized and shaped versions of themselves. To do an effective job of coaching and developing their employees–in short, to become a “we”-focused boss–managers need to develop insights into what makes each individual tick.
Some executives encourage new managers to give their direct reports personality assessments, such as the DISC Personal Profile System, which can provide insights into traits such as whether their direct reports are more analytical or intuitive in their decision-making approach.
But often a more direct tack can be just as useful. Encourage new managers to meet with employees individually for the sole purpose of getting to know them better. Examples of some things you might suggest they say: “Tell me about something that worked well for you,” or “What’s something you did here that you’re particularly proud of?” Says Richard Lamond, chief HR officer for the staffing and recruiting firm Spherion: “My experience is that people are willing to open up.”
At the same time, suggest language that managers can use in daily interactions to create a “we” feeling, such as “I’m really interested in your reaction.” It may seem like a no-brainer, but new managers often overlook the importance of such simple conversation starters.
Remember: What seems obvious to seasoned managers is not yet second nature to those with less experience. Besides, new managers often are bombarded with so many new tasks and responsibilities that it’s not surprising that they will tend to rely on a crutch or two. Doing what they’ve done well in the past instead of delegating the work and building up their team’s strength is one of the most commonly used starter executive crutches. Even the simplest suggestions, such as effective conversation starters, can go a long way to helping the difficult transition from “me” to “we.”
Anne Field is a Pelham, N.Y.-based business writer.
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