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Letters to a Young Manager

Ratchet up the productivity, #22
LTYM > Managing People II

Dear Adam,
Remember that Sonofabitch I learned to work for? [1] When our parent company made another acquisition --this one on Wall Street-- he got the president's job.

One of the early moves he made was to meet with each VP and then their teams. He asked what they were working on and what they aspired to accomplish. He also asked about next steps and by when they believed they would achieve them. He wrote down everything.

In follow-up meetings, he handed out the list of items he heard earlier. This is your "to-do" list; "what's been completed since we last met," he asked? Not much. Some protested that there were milestones that were prerequisite items. So he asked about these and wrote them down. By the next meeting, everyone had gotten the message; what you said needed to be done, needed to be done! People began working harder and coming to weekly meetings with reports on what was done.

I asked him why he did this; it seemed a bit micro-managing. I never forgot what he said: when the productivity of a company is suffering, you need to ratchet it up. You need to expect people will do more, and do what they say. And you need to hold them accountable.

[1] See story #17


Setting action items ratchets up the productivity

Discussion Questions:

1) What are you doing to rachet up productivity on your team?
2) What do you think of the president's technique of the to-do list? Is this micro-managing?
3) Ken Blanchard talks about situational leadership, where the management role for a new employee (and team?) is to be directive [2]. What do you think about this?

For Further Reading:

[2] Compare the discussion of situational leadership, here:

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