Tue, 16 Aug 1994

Attention managers

How to be a great manager? First and foremost, delegate. As Abraham Lincoln said: "You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves." Trust your people--without entrusting, we can't create an atmosphere of trust.

Train your staff. By training, I don't mean your doing their work, but telling them how things can be done better. This training is not a one-shot affair. It must be continuous, an on- going every day affair. Concentrate on both big and little matters. Don't be fussy to correct your staff but ensure that things are performed right the next time. Correction does much, but encouragement does more!

Motivate your staff. This, I consider, is the most important aspect of a manager's job. Some managers tend to create an atmosphere of fear and terror. Suppression and intimidation are not the correct management styles though they might work in the short term. As someone has said: "It's a good idea to be soft and sweet. You never know when you have to eat them."

Listen to your staff. Allow them to think. IBM Chairman caused the word "THINK' to be hung all over the factory and offices, as a THINK sign was considered to be a constant source of inspiration.

Believe in participative management and involve your people in decision making. Great ideas can be capitalized by hearing what your staff have to say in the subject matter. Allow them to speak their minds. Don't feel that we, managers, know everything. Operational people can bring out excellent ideas provided they feel that they are important enough to be heard.

Communication, to be effective, has to be a two-way type. What you only say without any participation from the other person is not communication, but instruction. Understanding someone's view- point is the first step towards effective communication. In Indonesia, informal communication works wonders! Isn't it better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it? It looks that we still need to learn a lot from the Japanese systems of bottom-up management.

Managers are fond of signing papers! Don't sign any paper blindly, just because your staff have also initialed it. You may as well delegate this authority to your people. It may be necessary for you to keep a tab of what goes on in the office and this may indeed be possible only by routing even daily routine matters through your desk but you still do not have to put your signature on all such documents. Knowledge or information feedback is one thing and authority is another. You don't have to sign a paper for keeping track.

Yes, we can certainly get extraordinary results from ordinary men. There is ample evidence around us, in Indonesia, in our offices and factories, to show how even some junior level workers, typists and the like do excellent work. We should know that such unsung heroes do exist in our midst and should recognize their contribution by suitably motivating them to go for even better results. The question is "Are we up to it?"