Andrew Grove, former chairman and CEO of Intel was one of the digital pioneers of our time. Unfortunately he has passed away earlier this year. He is frequently quoted by one of his great statements on the world of technological innovation and digitalization, however not everybody know that he also wrote a few books.
In order to give him a little, yet well deserved feature, I’d now like to tell you a little bit from his book “High Output Management“
Of course this only reflects my thoughts on the whole book, so if you would like to give it a deep dive, please consider buying the book and checking it out in full.
If you want to manage a company, you need to understand all production processes
If you cannot comprehend what is happening in your organization you will never be fully a fit for your role. Especially if you inherit the leadership of a company without having founded it, turns out to be a delicate challenge.
What is the most difficult and most complex part in your process flow? Where is the demand now and where is it going to be tomorrow? You need to identify key activities on the path of delivering your service or product to your clients. You need to know the talents and skills of your staff and assign them accordingly.
Measure the steps from input to output and analyze the results. If you find opportunity to improve anything, then do it. If you find problems, remove them sustainably. Find the most cost-effective way without sacrificing the quality of what you do.
Shared responsibilities and shared success
The result of management does not only depend one person. Of course the result includes the performance of the manager as well as the performance of the managed team. If a manager succeeds at planning the work, allocating resources to tasks, removes obstacles and the team yet fails to execute, the manager is still responsible for the failure.
On the other hand, no team can easily succeed, if the manager is not taking care of what he or she should be doing to enable them. They share both failure and success. They need to work together and strive to achieve common goals.
Beyond that a manager will need to make strategic decisions in order to ensure the continued success of the team and of course the whole company. At the end of the day, a manager should also be a role model to the team and walk-the-talk. If he or she is all talk and does not follow his or her own “rules”, their team might follow or not, but they won’t accept the manager as their leader. The output would be at risk.
“A manager can do his ‘own’ job, his individual work, and do it well, but that does not constitute his output.”
– Andrew Grove
The many forms of managerial communication
Peter Drucker says that spending more than 25 percent of your time in meetings is a sign of poor organization. While the validity of that statement varies on every role, organization and industry, I believe we can agree to it being correct to a certain degree. You need to be smart about communication as it can save a lot of time or burn a lot of time. If communication is done right, it’s always an investment with good return.
What is a manager’s duty when it comes to communicate in the form of a meeting? They need to gather information, make decisions and be an inspiring example to everybody else. As a manager you need to utilize a variety of communication types, but meetings will be a tool for you, that you need to leverage to your advantage and you must not become a slave of mindlessly arranged meetings disrupting through most of your business hours.
What if their life depended on it?
As a manager you need to foster motivation and inspire. What if an employee wasn’t seemingly fulfilling their duty up to the standard? How could you determine whether that team member lacks skills or just needs to be motivated to achieve more? Ask yourself, whether or not that person could perform the task if their life depended on it. If the answer would be yes, they just need a better motivation and as a manager, that falls in your area.
“Because better motivation means better performance, not a change of attitude or feeling, a subordinate’s saying ‘I feel motivated’ means nothing.”
– Andrew Grove
If you think they probably could not succeed even with that at stake, you might need to reconsider the match of the person and the activity, you assigned them with. If you have not so many options, you could also consider to train the team member to acquire the needed skills. All of this is the job of a manager. If you choose to replace the person without a second thought, you genuinely failed at your role.
Is it all about the money?
Can staff be motivated by financial rewards? To a degree it helps but it’s rarely a holistic solution for people who aren’t inspired. Your team wants to be asked for their opinion. They want to be enabled to make decisions and be accountable over a certain space.
Make them own a particular aspect of the operations or production and see how they will improve their bit. If everybody is accountable of a certain bit, the team is likely to significantly improve their scope.
What we learned from Andrew Grove
A manager has to do more than one job and the activity it entails vary from team to team and company to company. There is no single perfect management style, you need to find out what works for you and for the team. If you want to learn more about these methodologies you should check out Objectives and Key Results (OKR) as well as a framework.
Managers need to gather and assess the relevant information, make the right decisions, inspire and motivate staff, so they can achieve, what you plan them to achieve. Clear the path and enable your team!