Wednesday, December 12, 2007

OMG Moment in the car on the way home

So at Big Co. we have been looking at ways to change how management thinks and innovate how management works. To come up with new and interesting ways to make the work place awesome for the work force, to prevent turn over. In essence to make Big Co. such a cool and wonderful place to work that people want to flock to it rather then flee in terror.

To the point above some effort has been given to attempting to bring some problems to light. A series of presentations on management style, problem resolution, introduction of agile across the Big Co. enterprise has met with some interesting commentary more then once. The commentary has been about bruising the egos of the management with the things that are being said in the presentations. For example, a presentation might say something like "Management focus: Remove impediments" the response to this was something along the lines of "...you might want to reword that because people [management] probably feels that this is what they are already doing."

So here is where the AH-HA came in for me and why I felt this nagging bit in my head that the statement provided as evidence for 'dulling' that management focus statement to avoid calling someones baby ugly was a bad thing.

When we start our jobs in the Big Co. world we are all provided with instruction in sexual harassment. In this little bit of learning we are told that it is not the intent of the person doing the harassment that matters, it is how it is perceived by the person being harassed. So something that I might think is perfectly innocent someone else finds offensive and as such 'MAY' claim harassment. Having to reword the statement made above to avoid bruising egos strikes me the same way.

If the people that work for you are telling you that they do not feel that you are working to remove impediments to them doing their job there is no reason for you to be personally offended. In this case it is the workers perception of what you are doing as a manager that should be taken as gospel. It is the perception of management not doing something that made someone put a particular statement onto a presentation. Now sure you can say that you should be more political about it maybe... but reword it just because management already feels that are doing it? HELL NO, it is not managements perception of that statement that matters, it is the perception of the people making it that does.

Put another way, if you were the manager, imagine how in the dark you might be if you NEVER talked to the people you were managing. Those people working for you have insight and information. Those folk may be under informed of all that management is doing to help them - but if that is the case then the perception of not doing a thing is easily removed with greater transparency and communication. Tell things like they are and help management to understand that it is not about what they think they are doing it is about what people perceive that they are doing that counts.
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