Why even try to manage people? Instead, create systems and your employees will manage themselves.
We need to get rid of a timeless superstition of management, which is: “The best managers are the best ‘people managers.’” Bunk. Phooey. Not true. The best managers are the people who create and implement systems in such a way that people are empowered to manage themselves in their work!
If you believe small business management guru Michael E. Gerber, people are unmanageable! You can’t motivate them, you can’t figure out what’s going on in their heads, you can’t control them! We humans are not manageable! As Gerber says in The E-Myth Manager: Why Management Doesn’t Work—And What to Do About It, “to manage means to strive to control everything around us. Something humans were never born to do.”
Oh boy—curve ball out of left field. Heresy. Throws everything you were ever taught about management out the window. Here’s something to ponder: If you truly were a “people manager,” you would know every single thing that’s going on in every single head at every moment in your organization! And that person ain’t been born yet!
Stop trying to manage people and start managing systems—systems in which people can create, experience, do, learn, fail, succeed, master and grow. A good system allows anyone in the organization to do any job, not just the highly skilled. A true system implements simple ideas in a simple fashion, time after time after time, with predictable, satisfying results. If you have anything less than this, you don’t have a system! You’re still managing circumstances and situations. You have no focus on results; you only are engaged in what’s right in front of you.
An organization where people solve problems is unconscious. It has little focus, few organized systems, and generally is experienced from the outside as chaotic and disorderly. Employees are typically dissatisfied.
Conversely, an organization that seizes opportunities is conscious. It has a clear vision, manifested through highly integrated systems. It is viewed from outside as having a sense of purpose, order and integrity. People who work in this organization are satisfied. (Thanks to Michael Gerber for this clarity.)
Now that I’ve rattled your cage (at least I hope I have!), what can you do to be a better manager? How can you reach a more tranquil place of authority; experience an organization that truly works; and reach that elusive place called well-being, wherein people automatically know who you are and what you stand for, and want to be around you?
The following “Top 10 Management Precepts” I created are designed to put you on the road to finding the above-described management utopia.
- MANAGE YOURSELFLook in your closet. Is it a mess?
Clean it up and arrange it. What do the drawers in your desk look like? Organize them. Make it so you can find things without spending a half hour. Is your car shiny and sparkling? Or is it a traveling disaster area? Wash it; vacuum it; make it representative
of a professional.
These are simple things that tell you a lot about yourself, and tell others about you. If you can’t manage these simple, elementary aspects of life, how can you manage complex human beings and a multifaceted social system called a fitness facility?
- SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES, NOT PROBLEMSIf everything is a “problem,” look how you’re viewing your life as a manager! Your point of view is probably very negative. Problem solvers, by the way, are a dime a dozen, and seldom move up in a modern organization. They’re reactionary, not proactive. They’re waiting for the next shoe to drop . . . usually on their heads!
Opportunities are just problems seen in another light or a different focus. Those who see opportunity in day-to-day challenges are visionary, dynamic and entrepreneurial. People like to be around this kind of person. They’ll work for him and with her. They’ll go the extra mile.
- TAKE A WORK BREATHER
If you don’t envision something other than the job at hand, you’ll go crazy! If you’re wrapped up in what’s- coming-at-me-now, you’re not even doing your work—your work is doing you! This is the source of “burnout” in managers and employees (and nobody will feel sorry for you anyway).
- STOP DOING SO MUCH
You’re paid to manage, not do. If you can’t create and implement systems wherein other people do the work, then you aren’t a manager. Or, if you were hired to be a manager but find yourself being told to do, do, do—find another job, quick. You’re in an organization going absolutely nowhere fast!
- RECOGNIZE YOUR IMPACT
In management, people mimic you and your habits. If you say one thing but do the other, you’re not believable. But the other problem is, since you’re setting the rules, that’s the way everyone will play the game. You have a huge influence on your club. Act as though you do.
- IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU
You just happen to be a vehicle through which things do or don’t get done. If you’re really on the right track, you’ve already figured out that management is about finding out what’s going on with others, how they can best be served, how you can systematically help them grow into who they want to be. Parallel managing with gardening. Your job is to grow the flowers. The “flowers” are your employees, your owner, your members and your guests.
- STOP TRYING TO MANAGE TIME
You can’t manage time, so stop trying. The best you get to do is to manage yourself in time. Stop making lists—it’s a waste of time. And transferring those lists to other lists is more wasted time. Implementing these last two sentences will save you about a half-hour a day!
- MIX PRIORITIES WITH PREFERENCES
Organize your work by priorities (things you must do) and by preferences (things you like to do). Do a few things you need to do, then do something you like to do. Keep that pattern going all day long. You’ll get a lot more done in less time than usual, and work will also flow better. In addition, your sanity (and loved ones) will thank you!
- PREPARE FOR YOUR NEXT JOB
Yes, you read that correctly. Get ready in your daily work for the next bigger job in your life. Set it up so that people under you are snapping at your heels to get your job. If you do, you’ve got a dynamic organization that recognizes and rewards excellence.
Coach your people (employees, fellow managers, even the owners) to understand, sustain, practice, improve and transform the systems you have in place to achieve excellence in your business. Doing this helps eliminate the “them versus us” mentality that’s present in so many companies.
- DON'T MESS WITH SUCCESS
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it . . . or, fix it ’til it breaks. You figure this one out!
If you did the “Three-Page Drill” in the March issue of IDEA Fitness Manager correctly, your vision turned out to be the kind of life you want to live—not just the kind of business you want to have. That’s just coincidental and comes along for the ride!
Next time, we’ll take a look at simple ways of mastering management and how you can organize your facility for maximum results.