people signals


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How should we manage – Patrick Lencioni’s view

Patrick Lencioni has taken the sides of employees and asked: what does it take to have a miserable job. In his “Three signs of a miserable job” he states them as:

  • Anonymity – their manager has little interest in them as a human being and know little about their lives, aspirations and interests. This means, managers should take an active interest in their people.
  • Irrelevance – when employees cannot see how their job makes a difference. Everyone needs to know that the work they do impacts someone else – a customer, coworker or supervisor. Reminding people on the impact of their work is important.
  • Immeasurrement – the inability of employees to assess for themselves their contribution or success. Then they need to rely on subjective opinion of others. Managers need to help establish ways to measure and assess their performance.

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How should we manage – Gallup’s view

Taking this research approach further, the Gallup Institute began asking: what does it take for employees to be engaged? They came up with a simple list of 12 questions that can determine how much the employee is into his work and committed. The Q12 questionnaire for employees has a flip side for the task of the manager who can influence a number of these questions directly. The 12 statements are:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count
  8. The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
  10. I have a best friend at work
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress
  12. This last year, I have had the opportunities at work to learn and grow


Out of the Gallup Institute there are a number of popular books on management and engaging of employees. Marcus Buckingham has written in “One Thing” about simple rules for handling employees: each manager needs to know their employees by being able to answer the following questions promptly – what are their strengths, what triggers activate those strengths, what is their learning style? Ken Blanchard’s “the One-Minute Manager” is similar where he says that good management can be done by spending one minute a day with each employee and in that minute doing three simple things: aligning with them on what they are doing, praising them for things done well, criticizing or correcting them for things that are not going as planned.

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How should we manage – Henry Mintzberg’s view

In 1975, Henry Mintzberg published an article in Harvard Business Review on what constitutes the nature of managerial work. Rather than looking at what managers should do, he analyzed the way managers spend their time. He consolidated this into three areas and 10 roles that a manager fulfills:

Interpersonal roles

  • Figurehead – every manager must perform ceremonial duties
  • Leader – motivating, encouraging and aligning employees
  • Liaison – making contact outside the vertical role, with peers and others

Informational roles

  • Monitor – the manager perpetually scans the environment for information, interrogating liaison contacts and subordinates, and receiving unsolicited information, much of it as a result of the network of personal contacts.
  • Disseminator – the manager passes some privileged information directly to subordinates, who would otherwise have no access to it.
  • Spokesperson – the manager sends some information to people outside the unit and as a spokesperson, every manager must inform and satisfy the influential people who control the organizational unit.

Decisional roles

  • Entrepreneur – the manager seeks to improve the unit, to adapt it to changing conditions in the environment.
  • DisturbanceHandler – the manager involuntarily responding to pressures. The pressures of a situation are too severe to be ignored—a strike looms, a major customer has gone bankrupt, or a supplier reneges on a contract—so the manager must act.
  • ResourceAllocator – the manager is responsible for deciding who will get what. Perhaps the most important resource the manager allocates is his or her own time. Also, as resource allocator, the manager authorizes the important decisions of the unit before they are implemented.
  • Negotiator – managers spend considerable time in negotiations.

The popularity of Mintzberg’s work is due to its realistic description. It is not so much as philosophy as a way-things-are-done. Is shows the complexity and demands on the manager. Here management is more art – the blending of different demands.

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How should we manage – Fredmund Malik’s view

Fredmund Malik of St.Gallen Management School is one of the world’s renowned experts on the practice of management. He has a very practical framework on the tasks and tools of management. According to his approach in “Managing, Performing, Living”, the manager needs to focus on 5 tasks to be effective in his role:

  • Managingobjectives – the first task of effective management is to ensure that goals are set. These need to be the right goals and they need to be clear. They are the means to focus people and an organization – in effect, leading them.
  • Organizing – managers need to ensure that people are working on what the customer pays for. The organization needs to be set up so people can contribute their skills to the whole.
  • Decision-making – deciding is the core nature of leadership. It makes or breaks the manager.  Even more important is the implementation of the decision and realizing the results of it.
  • Supervising – work has to be measured and controlled so that the desired quality can be delivered. The means are many and where it is not possible to measure, the contributions have to be assessed and judged.
  • Developing people – people are the most important part of an organization. It is a prime responsibility of the manager to develop their people – knowing them and placing them where they can contribute their strength and where their weakness becomes irrelevant.

This is a very task-focused description of management. It breaks down the areas of responsibility and steps to management and has become the standard in many corporations, especially in Europe. Management is more a craft than art for Malik.

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