Just so we’re clear, everyone knows you think you can do “it” better than they can. What is “it”? Doesn’t matter. You’re the boss, so they assume you think you know better than “they” do. And, you know what, they might be right. In many cases, it’s in the best interests of the company to have a manager who does know better. Sometimes, though, that’s not feasible or applicable. Management requires different skill sets than some jobs. So, fact is, you may NOT know better.
But, here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter what you know or what you think you know. Effective management is not usually about technical ability. It’s about proper allocation of assets and equipping those assets. So, don’t be a Lumbergh. You know the guy – hovering, coffee in hand, concerned with offering unsolicited advice that’s typically out of context and prioritized in a way that will actually slow productivity. Worse, he’s a font of useless clichés that don’t actually benefit anyone and, at best, waste everyone’s time in the pursuit of making the boss feel needed. Makes for a funny movie character, but only because he gets his comeuppance in the end. Not because he’s the guy folks want to work for day in and day out.
Instead of trying to feel needed, do some things that actually make you necessary. Here are a few good guidelines on how to test your Lumbergh quotient and help you be a better manager:
Set achievable and understood expectations. Whether you’re establishing procedures, revising steps or communicating standards, do so in a way that drives progress and productivity forward.
Turn your staff into a team. Here’s the key difference: a staff is a group of people each focused on his or her own job to the exclusion of the bigger picture. Teams have shared goals and understand inherently that working together will give them a better shot at achieving those goals to their communal and individual benefit.
Don’t get stuck in a rut. Test and apply new ideas and technology. Always be looking for ways you and your department can be better. This isn’t about tinkering, it’s about measured and understood benefits. So, don’t just tweak things because you can’t stand leaving well enough alone. Make changes with specific goals and measured success in mind.
If you can employ these tips and turn them into character traits not only will you be a better manager, you will inoculate yourself from Lumbergh disease.
David Milberg is an investment banker from NYC.