Sunday, July 8, 2012

Management is not just pure science; it could be termed an art. It involves people in any organization, each of which maybe unique. These management myths aren’t just the most common, they’re also some of the most mythical and therefore easy to debunk. And one thing successful managers have in common is that they don’t drink the Kool-Aid or buy into BS fads. So, if you aspire to be a successful manager, don’t buy these:

Some Management Myths

 It’s ironic that society is okay with bad spouses, bad marriages, bad workers, bad professionals - hell, bad people - but not bad bosses, poor managers are a bad thing.. There’s a bell curve for all things involving people. It’s reality; it can never and will never change. Deal with it.

It’s not what you know but could be who you know. The mantra of the perpetual underachiever, the assumption being that because he can’t get a promotion it means the guy who did must know somebody. The truth is that overachievers work harder and yes, they schmooze harder too. That’s why they know more successful people and are therefore exposed to more opportunities.
It’s the path to big bucks. For the vast majority, that’s simply not the case. There’s at least as good a chance that you’ll hit the jackpot as a professional, individual contributor, or entrepreneur. That’s because the big bucks are in a thin sliver of executive management and few managers ever get there.

You should be prepared for the job. Sure, young managers should get some basic training, but anyone who says he was adequately prepared for his first management role is "BSing". A great deal of management skill simply can’t be taught; it’s best learned on the job, under fire in the hot soup, into the real world.
Abusive, confrontational, or dysfunctional managers are bad managers. Some of the most successful managers of our time fit that description: Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs, to name a few famous ones. Sure, there are plenty of best-selling books that promote the myth, but like it or not, I’ve never observed a correlation.

It’s all about managing people. This is probably the notion I most strongly want to dispel. Sure, managing people is a big component, especially for line managers. And employees certainly want to believe they’re first and foremost in the hearts and minds of their bosses. But if you look at the specific goals - how success is defined for most managers - they’re typically more about managing a function or a business than about managing people.
Leadership and management are unrelated. I hear this all the time and it’s a huge misconception. While it is true that there are different skill-sets, they’re still intimately related. The truth is that good management skills make better leaders and the converse is also true. I would argue that great management requires excellent leadership skills.

MBAs make better managers. Yes, you learn a lot getting an MBA. Yes, it’s a good piece of paper to have - especially from a top notch school - if you aspire to be in senior management. There is some credible evidence that it will make you or anyone else a better manager. That’s largely because management is partly more art than science. It’s tougher to get in than it is to do. The truth is just the opposite. If you’re capable, you’ll become a top notch manager. But it takes a lot more than that to become a successful manager not the least the visionary leader.
You should be able to do the jobs of those you manage. For some people in some jobs - primarily line managers - it can help quite a fair bit. In the vast majority of cases, however, there’s little correlation and it decreases further the higher you go up the management chain.
Perhaps the supreme, overriding uber-myth here is that there’s a formula for management success. As long as people are unique individuals and organizations are unique entities - and they surely are - there can be no formula for successful management. Sure, certain qualities and processes work better for certain people in certain organizations and industries, but that’s a far cry from a general blueprint for management success. It simply doesn’t exist. So if you stop looking for formulas, you’ll go a long way to becoming a more successful manager.
Every so often there is talk about whether you should or shouldn’t get an MBA. The only thing all those stories have in common is that those who wrote them likely have a stake in the presentation.
Also, it’s indefensible to be screwing around with folk’s career potential and ability to land jobs at a time like this. This is a time for the truth, like it or not. So here it is, no sugarcoating, no research that can be manipulated to make a point, just pure, unadulterated experience and simple logic.
You see alot of people have satisfying career, but you may need to fight tooth and nail to beat out competitors with MBAs from Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge and other top schools for executive-level jobs. It could be just a piece of paper, but that piece of paper is either desired or required for the vast majority of senior management jobs at companies big and small.

So, if you aspire to climb relatively high up the corporate ladder, you’ll have a far easier time if you get that piece of paper, especially if you get it from a top notch school. An MBA from a top notch school will indeed improve your prospects but those that are not so branded will still see yourself in a fair deal if you do proven your own capability. Otherwise, you’ll be swimming uphill your entire career.  If you’re not into climbing the corporate ladder, think you can make it on your own as an entrepreneur, or can’t afford or get into a top tier school, then it’s probably not worth it. All hype and headlines aside, that’s the simple truth.

Why Smart People Make Lousy Teams
Okay, maybe it’s not all that bad. But we’ve all seen groups of supposedly smart people who just can’t work well together. That’s because, according to recent research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, and Union College, raw smarts doesn’t have much to do with team performance.
Some research has placed nearly 700 people into groups of between two and five, then gave them problems to solve, such as visual puzzles, games, negotiations, and logical analysis. Here’s what they found:
Individual smarts doesn’t affect performance. The average intelligence of team members wasn’t related to team performance. So if you’ve got a team that’s struggling, putting a couple of really smart people on it isn’t going to help.

EQ–emotional intelligence– is more important than IQ. Good communication and good coordination make teams function well. To get that, you need people who are good at reading and responding to other peoples’ emotions. Teams that included even one person with superior skills in this regard had better performance.

A ’strong’ personality hurts performance. Groups where one person dominated the conversation or the decision-making, or where people didn’t do as well taking turns, had worse performance. This correlates well with other research that shows ’stronger’ leaders are often less effective than those who perceive themselves to be less powerful.
In business, it’s not always easy to change the composition of a team, and just because a team is all-male shouldn’t give it license to be socially inept. Writing for Psychology Today, Heidi Grant Halvorson suggests a number of ways any team can become more socially aware, and therefore, higher performing:
Create opportunities for team members to express their feelings, and for others to respond to them. Encourage face-time whenever possible (emotions are difficult to read on the phone, and nearly impossible over email). Cultivating a work environment where team members experiences are acknowledged and understood will create teams that are smarter, happier, and far more successful.

Teams can be smarter and more effective than the individuals who make up the team - the whole can indeed be bigger and better than just the sum of its parts, but only under the right circumstances.

A recent study conducted by researchers at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Union College shows that the collective intelligence of a small group working together uniquely predicts their performance across a wide variety of tasks. In the study, nearly 700 people were placed in groups of 2 to 5, and their ability to solve problems as a team was found to strongly predict their subsequent success on tasks as diverse as visual puzzles, games, negotiations, and logical analysis.
The average intelligence of members (measured individually, rather than as a group) did not predict team performance at all, and that's really important. In other words, simply having a couple of really smart people in the group didn't necessarily make the group itself any smarter.
It turns out that the collective intelligence of the team will only meet or exceed its individual potential if the right kind of internal dynamics are in place. The researchers found that what is needed for a group to be "smart" is effective coordination and communication, and that this is most likely to be the present in groups with members who were more socially sensitive.

When groups contained people who were particularly skilled when it comes to perceiving and responding to others' emotions, they demonstrated greater collective intelligence, and superior performance again and again. Not surprisingly, groups where one person dominated in conversation and decision-making were collectively less intelligent, and less effective.

So, how can you ensure that your team will be socially sensitive? The answer is simple: Try to add more women. Some studies found taht teams that contained more women were significantly more socially sensitive, and consequently more intelligent, than the male-dominated teams.

If you don't have the power to change the gender makeup of your teams, fear not. Their collective intelligence can still develop and improve - through better, more sensitive means of working together, or better collaboration tools. Create opportunities for team members to express their feelings, and for others to respond to them. Encourage face-time whenever possible (emotions are difficult to read on the phone, and nearly impossible over email). Cultivating a work environment where team members experiences are acknowledged and understood will create teams that are smarter, happier, and far more successful

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