Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Managing People Tip 12


Who to delegate a task to

Find out about yourself

The Management Potato

Encouraging ideas


Something for your office wall

The unbroken chain

Are you a successful manager?

Monkey rules

What are managers really for?

Person in hole

Getting your hands dirty

Weekly meeting

Some awkward questions

The three Value Disciplines

Captain of the ship

Managing People - how much should you get your hands dirty? A lot? A little? None?
The answer is to do with the TYPE of dirty.

MBWA is good. Management by wandering about (the initials sound like a yuppy kiss don't they?) means spending about half an hour a day (yes, big time commitment) wandering around, seeing how people are getting on, having a chat with random people, different each time, even the ones you don't particularly like. Essential for knowing what's going on so you can make good decisions. Also good for putting your message across, taking the temperature when big things are going on, building up trust and relationships, etc.

Get good at it! If you're not a chatty person then find a few lines that work and just use them. People will like to see you.

Counts as getting hands dirty? No, not really. In fact don't get drawn in to fixing small things while you're there - you delegate that sort of thing.

Back to the floor is good. This is a day a year spent doing a front line job. Great for your image (even though you'll probably be rubbish at doing it - admit this!), great for their morale (they get to laugh at you and to know that you care), great for fact-finding. Do a job you haven't done in the past - you learn more that way. Keep any promises that you make while you're doing it ("I'll get this fixed for you") or don't make the promises.

Getting hands dirty? Yes, but only when YOU choose. Do your day on the floor when everything is running smoothly and you've got the time.

Stoking the boiler is bad! This expression comes from the captain of the ship who has to stoke the boiler because the regular person has gone sick. And the captain is tempted because he =used to do it, it's fun, and he's got the biggest muscles on the ship.

Your equivalent of stoking the boiler might be visiting an important customer instead of your Sales Manager, or fixing a machine instead of your maintenance person, or handling a complaint personally because the customer is a tricky one.

MBWA and B2tF are not the same as Stoking the boiler, because with the first two YOU choose when you do it.

Stoking the boiler because you are short of people or going through a busy patch is not very sensible because you can make up for only one person at the most - what if you are short of 2 or 3, or 20?? And while you are stoking the boiler you've taken your eye off all the other areas, and you have less time to find another person to do the stoking.

So there you have it, 2 good ones and 1 bad one.

Which ones will you do today??

Onwards and upwards


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