On several occasions in this series of articles I have used the phrase “there is no magic formula” to make the point that a given situation or problem has many potential avenues of redress, none of which carries the guarantee of your desired result. You have to choose and hope for the best.
In this article I am going to reverse myself and tell you there is a manager’s magic formula after all. One that applies to all managers, public or private sector, civilian or military. A formula if you can make it work to its fullest, is likely to produce extraordinary outcomes.
Making it work, however. is every managers big challenge. But thinking about its key components on a daily basis is a great place to start. You can represent this formula in the following equation terms:
TP + HM = EP
TP represents TALENTED PEOPLE; HM represents HIGHLY MOTIVATED; EP represents EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE.
Well, hard to argue against the formula’s logic, isn’t it? But making it work to our maximum advantage, now that is hard. And the best managers work at it by paying close attention to the two elements leading to exceptional performance every single day of their professional lives.
To begin with, most managers get dealt a hand of talent they must play when they take on a management job and that hand is often a mixed blessing. Talent comes in various types and degrees and rarely is a manager gifted a team of highly functioning, interdependent all-stars. At times some of the talent your dealt is misplaced, miss-assigned, or otherwise unsuited to the task at hand.
Thus a manager’s daily challenge is to manage the talent at hand as best he or she can. While some people may need to move elsewhere, the majority of those individuals entrusted to a manager’s skill will need to be mentored, coached, taught and developed to grow their talent and put their skills to best use,
The best managers are those for whom talent development becomes a passion and avocation. They are constantly thinking about who among their charges needs what growth and development opportunities. They are constantly evaluating where each individual is along her or his potential growth continuum and looking for assignment and task opportunities with the potential to expand their skill repertoire.
Above all, the best managers recognize while talent is important, even more important are the opportunities and experiences that allow talented individuals to work hard at developing and honing the necessary skills of their professions.
I like to think of work as taking place in an ENVIRONMENT. Consider the following definitions of this concept provided compliments of Merriam Webster:
“The circumstances, objects or conditions by which one is surrounded”.
“The aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community”.
Unless you work alone, these certainly sound like the components of most work places to me. A work place has a distinct atmosphere. It has an emotional almost sensate feel that affects our mood, attitude, enthusiasm and overall morale. The environment and atmosphere in our workplaces can exert a powerful draw that motivates us to abandon our bed in the morning and head to work, or an inhibiting impulse that says “turn over pal and grab another hour of sleep”.
In my experience, one’s working environment either encourages motivated activity or it does not. There is no in between. And those who work there recognize and feel the difference. Moreover, no single individual in most workplaces has as much impact on creating a highly motivational working environment than its manager.
Motivational working environments are trusting, nurturing environments. They are environments conducive to teamwork and collaboration. They are environments where people empower themselves, take risks, show initiative, and are willing to take a creative leap knowing their reward will be for the effort not just a successful result.
In the most basic of terms, motivational working environments are a “FUN” place to earn your living. Not fun in a giddy or frivolous sense, but rather in terms of the satisfaction and pleasure that comes from hard focused work and successful accomplishment. At its best, it is the sort of working environment that makes you occasionally think “isn’t it great they pay me to work here”.
No manager, no matter how hard they try, can guarantee such an environment to all his or her subordinates. But the best managers work very hard to think, act and support those entrusted to them in ways that aim to motivate the best in their daily performances.
So if exceptional organizational performance is your goal, remember that highly motivated, talented individuals are the surest means to get there. Focus on developing the talent you have and creating the right working environment every single day and it is hard to go wrong as a manager.