The Two Twins Of People Management

Earlier last week I had written about lessons on creating Team-A. I had also promised to share some of my notes on people management. So here they are:

There are two fundamental confusions in entrepreneurs and managers that lead to much of the people problems. And these the twinsare what I refer to as the ‘Two Twins of People Management’

While everyone complains about their juniors not taking as much responsibility as they would have wished, there is tremendous silence when you ask the seniors about authority that they have divested.While responsibility is shared to a large extent (though not taken up), authority rarely gets distributed. It stays in the firm clutches of the manager or the entrepreneur.  At least the sharing of responsibility and authority do not proceed in the proportional way. If responsibility and authority do not travel hand in hand, people problems are almost an assured reality.

The other complaint of managers is that people do not take feedback in the right manner. Team members do not seem to have the required amount of maturity to take in the given feedback, which after all is for their improvement.  And the managers and entrepreneurs spread their hands in frustration – how can one improve if one is not willing to take feedback?  However, the reason for this is often the inability of the manager to separate the person from the issue.  When the person and issue are not separated clearly in the articulation by the manager/entrepreneur, what the manager may evaluate, criticize and give feedback on could be the issue, but it is received almost always by the person as something at the individual level.  For example when you have to indicate to an employee, him coming late is having an impact on completion of work, instead of focusing on the impact of delay of work – the feedback almost starts off with a sermon on punctuality and discipline.  The discussion of issue should lead to correction of a personal trait as a remedy. But discussions on personal trait may not always correct the issue at hand. It is the manager’s responsibility to split the person and issue, and then discuss the issue while handing over the feedback. And when the feedback is being given, it has to be with the intent of seeking a resolution to the problem and not reforming a person. Managers and entrepreneurs not doing this has led to loss of great amount of talent in numerous enterprises.

So the next time you are put in charge of managing people remember to be aware of the two twins that are seemingly inseparable  and indistinguishable at play!

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