Monday, November 30, 2015

Ah, the plight of the middle manager

Jane--you've got this.
Government Executive did a piece by John R Malgeri and Jeffrey E Press, on "Jane," a supposed middle manager in government. But some of the observations could apply to the private sector, too.

Jane is tasked with translating broad objectives into manageable activities for herself and her staff.

Yet, she tries to be creative. She looks for new ways to improve performance, she acts on input from her people and customers, she collects better data to make work more efficient.

Some tips:

Ask the right questions. Jane must show she is humble enough to welcome advice. These middle managers seek front-line insights.

Then she asks questions. What questions do we not have answers to? What data do we need to answer those questions?

Jane should also identify the root causes of known problems. She needs to stay on top of trends--and offer low-cost, simple, innovative solutions.

She must be a change agent.

She must recognize employees want to be challenged, to change what is wrong.

Yes, this is easier said than done...

Recently I read a comment on a website from someone who had been to the airport and heard a supervisor tell a TSA agent to "slow down." This commenter was outraged--slow down, they are already slow...etc.  But maybe someone up the line was late for work, and shoving the screened people up the process would create a bottleneck, who knows...

Well, Jane is supposed to know... If slow down was her "solution," then her "customers" were not amused. Maybe a better system of checking in at the gate, where a missing person would not stop the process?

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