A Gem from Jeffrey Gitomer – The Elements of Great Managing

I was re-reading one of my favorite books on management over the weekend. It’s called 12: The Elements of Great Managing, and it’s about the twelve questions that the good folks at the Gallup organization have found to be the most predictive of people being engaged and productive in any workplace. With over 100,000 participants, they had a huge sample to work from across dozens of industries.

Here’s one thing that was most surprising to me when I first read it, but that I’ve found less surprising over time. Two of the questions that they found to be the most predictive were the following:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

According to the Gallup study, these are two of the most important questions to ask in any organization. In my opinion, the fact that they have to be asked is kind of crazy, don’t ya think? Nobody reading this tidbit is leading an organization full of unqualified, disinterested people. At least, I don’t think so. I’ve met so many of you and I haven’t seen that yet. And yet, nobody leading any of the companies in the Gallup study would have thought that these were the obvious questions needed to be asked of their employees either.
What gives?! It brings me back to the heart of much of the work I do with companies.

The most powerful, most impactful work that can be done is often also the simplest.

It’s noticing that a lot of employees are saying things like, “It’s not clear how I advance here. It’s not clear what’s expected of me. It’s not clear that they recognize when I go above and beyond. It’s not clear that they understand that they haven’t provided the resources, the authority, or the autonomy to ensure I can do what they ask.” One of my favorite live applications comes from a company I worked with years ago. I talked to dozens of employees and they all said the same thing of the company’s president: “He expects us to know, but we have no clue what he expects.”

Missing out on asking these critical questions (and more importantly, missing out on understanding the culture of your organization and how your people perceive it) is what leads to things like Wells Fargo employees opening millions of fraudulent accounts and ultimately getting fined over $180M. (Of course, the fact that many of the managers directly responsible for that scandal were retained and promoted by the company speaks of other cultural issues, which we don’t dive into here).
This doesn’t just cause stress on the employees. It also causes significant headaches for senior leaders, as well! I’ve talked to companies that got their hiring and job descriptions muddled, so that senior management thought they had real salespeople on board (and expected the revenue growth that comes from salespeople), while what they really had were glorified customer service reps who didn’t have the power or authority to actually create new sales. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were poured down the drain because of an expectations/reality mismatch.
Look, the big issue here is this….

Companies, and the leaders of those companies, are often quick to assume everybody knows what they should be doing.
But having worked in companies with a few million in revenue to billions in revenue, I can tell you that’s unequivocally false. In dozens of industries, I’ve seen people who don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing, and their leaders not even knowing what those people should be doing!
This is true in sales, marketing, service, leadership, operations and more. It’s harsh but true. If you want some help with this, I can help.

Your Challenge For This Week: What’s the most basic question that you can think of about your business, about your operation, about your team? Then, ask yourself even more basic questions. Here’s an example:

First pass of your basic question: “Do my people have the tools and materials to do their job?”
Second pass of your basic question: “What are the tools and materials my people need to do their jobs?”
Third pass around: “What exactly are my people’s most important jobs?”

Another example…

First pass of your basic question: What is the most important part of your job?
Second pass of your basic question: What do you think–that I think–is the most important part of your job?
Third pass around: What don’t you want to tell me right now?

Feel free to send me the questions you come up with and I’ll try and help you simplify even further.