Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Coordinating the Cast and Crew

Being a manager is like being a movie or theater director. Both have several common themes - don't have the "actors" over study is an example. Too much information clouds the imagination. Let the actors do what they were hired to do. Another is the goal of identifying the "story's" compelling questions. Every play or movie, like every work situation deals with a basic question that keeps the audience - your employees - engaged. Finally, work from your strength. Find out how you work best. When on an unfamiliar stage, rely on the strength of others.

Your know-how in judging, selecting, and developing "actors" doesn't automatically improve just because you hire and fire the cast. Managers, like the director, need to understand the importance of reflecting on their accuracy in crystallizing what a person is good at, what his or her potential is, and what he or she needs to improve. Managing, like directing, is about casting. Talent in the wrong roles won't lead to top-notch performance. It is important to make time to know the strengths and weaknesses of the players before assigning them their roles.

Ram Charam, author of Know-How: The 8 Skills That Separate People Who Perform From Those Who Don't (2007), highlights his insight and tools for spotting future leaders that might be "cast" in your organization's next "play or production":
  • They consistently deliver ambitious results.
  • They continuously demonstrate growth, adaptability, and learning better and faster than their excellently performing peers.
  • They seize the opportunity for challenging, bigger assignments, thereby expanding capability and capacity and improving judgment.
  • They have the ability to think through the business and take leaps of imagination to grow the business.
  • They are driven to take things to the next level.
  • Their powers of observation are very acute, forming judgments of people by focusing on their decisions, behaviors, and actions, rather than relying on initial reactions and gut instincts; they can mentally detect and construct the "DNA" of a person.
  • They come to the point succinctly, are clear thinkers, and have the courage to state a point-of-view even though listeners may react adversely.
  • They ask incisive questions that open minds and incite the imagination.
  • They perceptively judge their own reports, have the courage to give them honest feedback so the direct reports grow; they dig cause and effect if a direct report is failing.
  • They know the non-negotiable criteria of the the job of their direct reports and match the job with the person; if there is a mismatch they deal with it promptly.
  • They are able to spot talent and see the "God's gift" of other individuals.

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