Nothing is more of a mystery to me than the relationship between Management and Staff. It absolutely amazes me how Management and Staff will verbalize their criticism of each other among themselves but not to each other – at least not intentionally. The most interesting part is the view that either Management or Staff are incompetent, cannot be trained, and will not change. Building on a prior theme, I pose the question: “Is this perception or reality?”
My response to this dysfunctional environment, which I encounter more often than not, is to eliminate the Managerial preconceived notions of Staff capabilities by demonstrating their inherent abilities and value to the Project.
Fact: Everyone is doing their job at some level or they would be fired.
Fact: These are the Staff resources available for this project.
Management’s impression of Staff should not automatically be my impression of Staff.
When questioned about my “Get it done” attitude, I like to use this example: “I am behind enemy lines with this crew. Safety is twenty miles away through hostile territory. This is what I have to work with.” I will improvise adapt, and overcome – just like the US Marines.
Everybody has some level of talent, skill, and creativity. Everyone likes to feel like they are part of the process and that their opinion and efforts are valued. This is where Management mostly fails. It is what I call “Managerial Insanity” – working with Staff the same way, day in and day out, and expecting a different result. Management rarely wants input from Staff and certainly does not want to hear from Staff about how Management could do their job better.
As the Consultant, the key is to engage the Staff as part of the process which then motivates them in to action. The easiest way to get Staff involved and excited is to ask, “What is the problem (we are trying to solve) and how would you do it differently?” Even if the Staff are not creative thinkers, recognizing each person’s capabilities and using them within the limit of their abilities is perfectly fine – and gets the job done.
My Dad and I used to have deep discussions about people’s abilities. He always said that if the Student did not learn or could not perform the task, it was the Teacher’s fault. (You can substitute Staff for Student and Management for Teacher.) I always said, that there is a reason the Peter Principle exists, “Everyone rises to his level of incompetency.” Not everyone is infinitely capable. Understanding this fine line between the likelihood of being able to effect immediate change in the level of Staff capabilities (not very practical) vs. utilizing the current abilities of Staff to their maximum potential is the entire key to success and what I specifically try to do.
Unlike Management, the Consultant should be able to take inventory of the available skill sets of Staff and use them appropriately thereby maximizing all of the resources available to complete the Project.
With rare exception, every Staff person has something to contribute.
Recognizing that all people have value is critical to utilizing all Managerial and Staff resources effectively.