The First Book of Management

Chapter 11 - Own Goals

People need to have a goal that they can work towards. There has to be a point. This is why leaders need to provide a vision for their team.

The big vision can be divided down into steps along the way, and these steps can be designed in conjunction with the team, or even by the team on their own. The only part that the leader must do on his or her own is to set the final destination. After that, the more involvement the better.  

I was asked by David Stancombe, top boss, what plans I had for the coming year. I said I was planning to tackle the problem of customer complaints. These were running at about 30 per week, so it was somewhat obvious that this problem needed to be tackled!

“OK, good idea” said DS. “How much will you reduce them by? Shall we set a target, to aim for by the end of the year?”
I reckoned I could get it down to five a week by Christmas.
“Great. That’ll make a big difference. Go for it. I know you can do it,” he said with a smile.  

Of course I know now that he would have been delighted with ten or fifteen a week, and that five was a reckless target to set. In fact, if he’d said “I want you to get it down to ten” I would have been depressed at the size of the task. Even worse would have been “Get it down to ten or you don’t get a pay increase next year” or “Get it down to ten or you’ll be sacked”.

But because I had set the target myself, and because I knew that he would help me, and that if we failed he would understand the reasons and know that I had done my best, and because I wanted to prove to him that his faith in me was justified, I was determined to do it.  

Nothing else could have motivated me as much as that one little line “OK, what target do you want to set yourself?”.

Message 11: Get them to set their own goals - then they will be really motivated to achieve them.

And we did it. We got them down to less than five per week.  

Well that’s not strictly true, it wasn’t me at all, my team did it. I asked them what the main problems were, asked them which one to attack first, asked them for ideas, asked them which idea was the best, and gave them the job of implementing it. I helped them where I could. They enjoyed making a difference. We all got the credit.

It’s not difficult, this management game, if you get the basics right. It doesn’t matter if it’s a plastics factory or a sales office or an insurance company or a software house or an advertising agency. It’s still only people, systems, and vision.  

Starting now, it’s your turn to go out and do it right. The way I wish I had.

Good luck……
Chapter 1   - The Captain Of The Ship
Chapter 2   - Wandering About
Chapter 3   – Difficult Jack
Chapter 4   - Dr. Evil
Chapter 5   - Knowledge is Power
Chapter 6   - Destruction
Chapter 7   - A real friend
Chapter 8   - Teams from Hell
Chapter 9   - Dangerous Roy
Chapter 10 - Bob vs. Bob
Chapter 11 - Own Goals