Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Management Theory: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

One of the most overlooked facets of successful management (upline, downline, peer) can be found in Aretha Franklin lyrics, silly though it may seem. People vastly overlook how important respect is to running an organization successfully.

This holds true whether you're talking about an assembly line worker in a factory or an accounting at an audit firm, and respect is a building block of many other essentials (like trust and loyalty). If your boss tells you to do something they have never done, and you know it's not possible and they have no way to relate, you have now been placed in the unwinnable situation of trying to explain to your boss "no, this can't be done and here's why". Basically, you're trying to ride a unicycle during winter in the wrong direction on a one way street.

A lack of respect encourages contempt, just like moisture is often a precursor to mold. If you don't respect your boss, any situation in which they demand something unreasonable of you is an opportunty for you to think "pfft...this idiot has no idea what they're doing". Rot spreads outward from the core.

Repect is like trust, it's not something you earn quickly or simply, but rather something that is built slowly. My experience is that empathy is one of the best ways to foster respect. For a manager, your employees need to know you can operate at their level through their own experience: you came up through the ranks, you worked side-by-side with them, or you filled in for them while they were out (not them coming in and having to redo your work, and not giving them a lecture because you had to fill in for them while they were out). You respect you boss because you feel they know what they're doing and they treat you like an adult. You respect your employees because you feel they know what they're doing and you can treat them like an adult. Period.

Contempt can actually erode respect for many managers who feel their subbordinates are below them, that they left that crap work behind many years ago. I have seen many good managers who were not great managers because they felt "when I was in that poistion I was the best ...". This is completely false, and you need to face that fact. You did not get promoted to Senior Accountant because you were the best Staff Accountant ever, you got promoted because your manager felt that you could handle more responsbility, which is almost always contrary to being the best at what you were. The best manager in any area has the ability to step into any of the roles below them and keep things running smoothly, to understand low level concepts though they may not have ever implemented them, but they still may not (and ideally SHOULD NOT) be the best person to fill that role. A good Chief Financial Officer, unless (s)he is 200 years old did not have time to be (a) the best Director of Corporate Accounting (b) best Fixed Asset Person (c) best AP Manager (d) best Payroll Manager (e) best Inventory Manager (f) best Tax Accountant (g) best Internal Auditor (h) best external Audit liason (i) [...]. That person is truely one in a million.

Repect is one of the most fundamental building blocks of a well-run organization at all levels. Without respect, "personnel" turn immediately into "human resources".

1 comment:

thecardaddy said...

man i need a gummint job where i can post stuff all day.