Your managers are the keys to your employees’ productivity and engagement. How well are they doing? A consultant whose opinion we respect—Bill Lee of Lee Resources, at BillLeeOnline.com—recommends a book he thinks is the best manager-improvement product he’s come across. It is The Control Theory Manager, by William Glasser, M.D. (HarperBusiness, 1994), and it’s short enough to be covered in an hour-long training session. The author contrasts what he calls "boss-management," which he advises against, and "lead-management," which he advocates. Here’s the gist of his guidance:
- Boss-managers set tasks and performance standards for employees, usually without consulting them. Lead-managers have ongoing discussions with employees that encourage their input to improve the system or reduce costs.
- Boss-managers tell employees how to do the work and seldom ask for input. Lead-managers show or model the job and works to increase workers’ sense of control over their own work.
- Boss-managers or their designees inspect work and don’t involve employees in evaluating it. Lead-managers encourage employees to inspect and evaluate their own work.
- Boss-managers’ primary technique is coercion to make employees do their jobs. Lead-managers promote continuous improvement, helping employees by providing good tools and a friendly, nonadversarial work environment.
- Lead-managers avoid engaging in three destructive behaviors:
- Too much criticism of employees;
- Asking more of them than they can accomplish; and
- Trying to coerce employees to do what they don’t want to do.
And here are three lead-manager rules:
- You can teach employees a better way and encourage them to try it. If it works, they’re likely to continue it. But you can’t coerce them to do what they don’t want.
- All human behavior is caused by what goes on inside the heads of each individual, which bosses can influence but not control.
- Unless you understand what employees’ individual needs are, you can’t give them need-satisfying information.
There’s more good manager guidance in Glasser’s book.