The Monday Revolution, says David Mansfield, visiting professor at Cass Business School, is a state of mind to apply on the first day of the week. It’s a metaphor for recognising that some things need to change. It’s an approach that relies on simple steps to achieve smart ways of getting things done.
We can all recall those bosses who we feared, respected or loathed. Those who had a major impact on our lives, often extending beyond the work place. True examples of the best and worst of management practice. No doubt we said to ourselves, that should our lucky day come, we would remember these times and do our best to manage others as we would like to have been managed ourselves.
Having progressed from the shop floor in a factory making light bulbs to that of CEO and director of many companies, I’ve made more than my fair share of slip-ups. I can recall with horror some of the things I did, which at the time I thought were best practice. I went through a phase of telling candidates at the end of an interview they hadn’t got the job. And then I’d tell them why. Unsurprisingly this led to anger and in some cases tears. To me it seemed expedient but I think most people would have preferred a letter to immediate rejection.
I hope I learnt from my mistakes and over many years improved. And that when I became a CEO of a large organisation I hadn’t completely forgotten what it’s like to be on the front line and not in the so called ‘C Suite.’ Never perfect but I always recognised where the frontline was and would readily join it myself.
I say this because this week I was discussing an organisation where the ‘C Suite’ and the front line seem to have a kind of ‘no man’s land’ between them. This is a business that operates 24/7 in a very tough environment. It’s in the 3rd sector where money and resources are tight. It needs a cohesive, pull together approach. Unfortunately the CEO and his team seem to have created the opposite.
Absent from the front line their employees are left to fight fires and deal with the problems as best they can. The organisation and its employees are operating way below their potential because the senior management have gone missing. Unfortunately this has, I’m sure to a great extent, become learned behaviour from the CEO. People really do follow the example of their leaders. If they fail to engage with their staff, are only notable because they are rarely seen and promote their own agenda as a precursor to their next appointment, it gets spotted.
And it’s very difficult to deal with. This company has a board and experienced chairman who are as much a part of the problem. They are undemanding of the CEO who spends his time managing upwards. There are no shareholders and the company is not managed by financial performance.
The consequences of not engaging with the front line are high sickness rates, high staff turnover and low morale. A tragedy, really, which could be easily put right.
So the lesson here is crystal clear. If you want to get the best from your organisation make sure you spend time with the people who you depend on for success. And you can’t do this in a token way. You’re not on a state visit. You can pop into meetings, meet customers, buy the beers in the pub, say a few words at anniversaries, birthdays and even leaving drinks. Sometimes it feels awkward but it has to be done. There is only one way to lead and that’s from the front. Be highly visible.
The theme that has developed over recent articles has been to encourage you to look at what you already do and how you can improve. Put your ideas into practice, starting next Monday. A small effort here will transform your standing and your business. Don’t be the kind of manager who only appears when mistakes are made. Celebrating the success of others is part of good practice, not a sign of weakness.