You can’t manage my work; only I can.
The focus of much of my leadership coaching is on helping people develop self-management practices – a range of strategies by which they can inner-direct, self-regulate, self-monitor and self-evaluate their own activities toward the achievement of objectives.
Self-managed people are self-disciplined. Those with high levels of self-management skill methodically plan their approach to goals, employ the right tool for the job, identify blocks to their own performance and modify their approach and practices on the basis of awareness of effect. They are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, and possess a broad repertoire of context-independent process tools (generic skills, practices, optimally effective and efficient work routines) from which they select those most appropriate.
Modern organisations could not exist without workers able to self-manage to least some degree, yet many do little to methodically develop the skills of their workforce for that purpose, and place too much emphasis instead on performance appraisals, performance reviews, performance management processes and ad hoc “catch-ups” with individual workers. (Unless those “catch-ups” are coaching conversations, they may help build relationships but are not the same as intentional development.) Performance management systems were designed to control and influence the quality and of “old” work, not meet requirements of knowledge work and the modern workplace.
For most senior staff and for very many other workers these days, efforts that involve carrying out prefigured routines closely overseen by managers to ensure compliance, no longer dominate. Staff are considerably more in charge of decision-making about how they approach and manage their work – more in control of their own operating systems – than ever before. They must self-initiate responses to the circumstances at hand, shaped or crafted from the study and possession of optimum work practices. The results that really matter are indirect and delayed, rather than direct and immediate.
Although developing the desired performance of staff remains a key responsibility, leaders and managers must now approach that function differently, equipping and enabling workers to plan, manage, appraise and improve their own performance.
The generic, “context-independent tools” required for self-management cover a wide range. I’ve compiled a partial list, divided into (a) Managing myself and my own work; (b) Managing myself in relationship to others; and (c) Managing my own leadership.
Contact me when you need support to:
- Refresh or acquire new self-management strategies, tools and competencies
- Develop self-management practices in others
- Help groups and teams develop and sustain their self-management practices.