Achievement not activity

Hello again! This weeks post comes from the 2007  February edition of the newsletter,  read on and see what you think about managing people!

Managing people is a strange task. People rarely react the same way to the same stimulus, we learn from our experiences.

Managing a group of people is stranger still. Now you have the interplay between each pair to manage as well. No surprise then that we tend to focus on how much work gets done.

Suppose the manager walks round ticking off people who do not seem to be working. This sends the message that it is important to look like you are working. Thereafter people look like they are working. In fact effort is diverted from doing the work to looking like you are doing the work!

Consider two people: one with feet up on an empty desk and one toiling away at a desk laden with papers. Which person do you applaud?

The best people I have managed always made the work look easy. While their colleagues rushed around in a frenzy they appear calm and relaxed. At a glance their frenzied colleagues look busier, but do the busy but less well organised actually achieve more? Is there a difference between activity and achievement?

Of course, low activity and low achievement sometimes go together, as do high achievement and high activity. This all has to be managed to bring achievement up to par and make achieving easier.

How does your organization manage?  Do you manage by appearances or by results?

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