This post is part of a series that follows A.M. Starkin, a young manager taking his first major steps into leadership. Starkin writes here to share his experiences and to get input from others, so please share with him your thoughts and ideas.
This will be the Great Starkin Bulletpoint Post – I simply want to say too much.
By the way, as mentioned in a comment, I am HAPPY to see people wanting to think and comment on what I am writing here. My primary reason for posting is to let thoughts on practical leadership evolve and mutate, so the more the better! So far it’s mostly all about helping me, and that is totally completely outstandingly fantastic! Each comment makes me think, and I should probably feed a lot more back if I had the time.
Three and a half weeks since my first post, I am beginning to feel close to having solved my problem. It’s purely a feeling, because:
- I will only know by this time next year whether I have solved the problem. The target that has been set for me is to double volumes and make a huge sum on doing so.
- We are still not invoicing on time nor paying our suppliers on time, and a couple are still threatening to stop working with us.
- I am finding skeletons in the closets everywhere.
- I hardly know what difference I have made yet.
The feeling of having solved the problem comes from seeing the very basics beginning to work:
- People are beginning to take responsibility for their own jobs. Especially my deputy is taking her self-made job description seriously.
- My deputy is no longer illoyal to the company in her internal and external communication.
- Our most experienced colleague is beginning to take all kinds of good initiatives.
I was going to put more bullet points here, but when I come to think of it, the above is maybe the only thing which needed to be fixed?! I no longer feel that the team is demotivated, frustrated and against change. And that is why, in a way, the problem is solved. We are now ready to develop – and that is why, in a way, my mission starts here: The task for me is not to go from “not good” to “OK” – but for me to make this company self-oscillate, the employees happy and the mother company profitable.
I don’t know if that is an achievement, because I am not really sure what difference I have made. Maybe what am doing is this:
- I do not exercise authority. I suggest, ask questions, take intiative, encourage, but never decide.
- I praise as much as I can – but never blame and discredit.
Is that all it takes to wake people up and make them take the same responsibility for themselves as they do outside work?
There is also the possibility that I am too naive or unable to see clearly what is happening. You might be in for a surprise, dear readers!
- The people are working but the business is not. Invoicing, payment and sales is not working, but it’s probably only a matter of time now that there is a positive attitude towards getting it done.
- I need to build on and enforce the positive curve we are on.
- Sell our basic product and streamline operations first
- Later begin innovating and approaching customers to work out tailor-made solutions.
Should I decide on doing things the way I want? Should I make people decide it on their own? On which level do I lead?
It might be wise to do like this:
- Decide actively the direction now. We might have the basic motivation and sense of responsibility in order – but it’s not a confident, autonomous and competent unit yet! I haven’t been very clear or directive yet.
- Encourage people to help me realize this – and support those who want to help. This is what I started a week and a half ago.
Another thing needs to be addressed: There are hundreds of things that nobody has taken ownership of and therefore belong to me: Court cases, contractual problems, compliance with rules and regulations, chasing bad payers (corporate finance are not very good at this), solving problems with overseas agents delivering on our behalf. I simply don’t have time to do all that + lead the business as long as I am only allowed two days a week (really only one day but that’s absurd so I take two days).
I can’t justify adding a person with the present budget, but neither can I justify leaving these things alone! Thinking to be done – during the next couple of days that I have taken off.
Next post I’ll try to post some real life!