I have been doing some work of late for a manufacturer, linked to the automotive industry. The senior management team are really great people – warm, kind and clever. Their outlook on the production personnel, however, is less than favourable – they “make excuses, shirk responsibility and somehow skirt accountability for issues that are less than perfect”, according to the managers. The shift and team leaders, on the other hand, feel that the managers are to blame – “they don’t know as much as we do, are always changing their minds and shout at us on the shop floor”. Clearly, the environment is not conducive to high levels of productivity, let alone wellness and feelings of belonging, ownership and contribution. We all agreed that a new culture had to be built – one of, on the one hand, respect, dignity and dialogue, but on the other hand, accountability for the responsibilities that each one has, managers and supervisors alike.

During discussions, one of the conclusions that became self-evident was that management style had to change. Managers had been tied down with structures, procedures and systems and had failed to really “dock” with their supervisors in terms of inspiration, quality communication and relationship. They had neglected the leadership side of their respective roles – motivating and getting alongside people.

In the proposed changes to the management style, the following leadership roles were accepted for the new approach:

  1. Path maker – describe what is ahead and create a mental pathway for people to follow so that they have more clarity and feel less confused and lost.
  2. Nurturer – support and build people up, encourage and assist them along the journey. Make people feel safer and less alone.
  3. Negotiator – negotiate change and culture development, creating opportunities for people to participate in discussions and decision-making. Participative environments induce a sense of ownership.
  4. Connector – actively work on bringing parties together that experience an “us versus them” relationship because of changes/past inadequacies.
  5. Confessor – a shoulder to cry on, someone to listen to concerns and fears. Make people feel listened-to and valued.
  6. Salesperson – selling change and culture development the way a good salesperson makes a deal; not being pushy or demanding, but understanding and moving at the pace of the buyer, showing understanding for their needs, speaking the buyer’s language.
  7. Facilitator – not providing answers, but facilitating solutions through interaction and dialogue.
  8. Performance manager – gentle firmness around deliverables, holding people accountable for KPI’s and other job description objectives.

To be effective, leaders & managers need to be trustworthy and credible in their culture development roles. Nothing could undermine change efforts more than inconsistent behaviour of important individuals. “Effective transformational leaders use managerial roles, not simply to action, assign and accomplish tasks and goals, but also to educate, empower and ultimately transform followers” (Sashkin & Rosenbach, 1993).

Some of the thoughts from www.freetogrow.com

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