Remember "Management by Objectives"? Those of you born after 1970 might not be familiar with it. Here is the Wikipedia definition: Management by Objectives (MBO) is a process of agreeing upon objectives within an organization so that management and employees buy in to the objectives and understand what they are. "
Peter Drucker first introduced it in 1954. It was very popular in the 1980's, and then it seemed to step aside in the 1990's to allow other new management techniques-of-the-month to take their place in the management de regueur.
MBO made way for clear communication between managers and their employees regarding goals and, more importantly, allowed and expected discussions, agreements, and disagreements to take place between the an employee and his or her manager in order to arrive at clearly defined goals and objectives each year. The emphasis, of course, was on the discussions, agreements, and disagreements, since anyone can list a set of goals and give them to an employee, hoping to be done with it right then & there.
I was recently introduced to a new form of leadership, Management by Drive-By-Shooting. Someone told me stories of working alongside (but not for) a manager who makes decisions and manages her work in "drive by shooting" fashion. Funny, eh?
We can call it MBDBS (or just "Drive By"). This leadership style gives assignments to people without enough background information and with little lead time. Decisions are made without verifying all of the facts, without consulting with all of the required parties, and / or by sending people on wild goose chases.
Managers who lead with MBDBS can be very nice people. They can be fun to talk to. They usually have a lot of energy (sometimes nervous energy, but energy nonetheless).
By now, many of you are thinking of people you know or have worked with in the past who manage by Drive-Bys. You might have a memory of this manager stopping by your office or cubicle, asking you to work on something in particular, and leaving before you had the chance to ask the most pertinent questions. (This could have also come in the form of a voicemail or e-mail.)
So how do you manage a manager who manages by Drive Bys?
First, say that 5 times fast.
Second, develop a way to slow that manager down.
Third, take advantage of that "slow down" time to figure out the right questions to ask him or her regarding the areas that they usually skip:
- Ask about more of the facts
- Ask about who has already been consulted on the issue
- Ask about what other groups or individuals might be interested in the process or the outcome
- Ask about the real timeline.
Fourth, request another meeting time with him or her (at least 30 minutes) and get it on their calendar. Schedule this for no sooner than two business days out. Take those two days to make some calls to other folks to gather more facts.
- Will this manager's plan tick someone off?
- Does anyone else have some facts that change the entire scope?
- Will this plan really increase net profit, or will it actually cost more money in the long run?
- Are there any legal hurdles that need to be cleared in order to proceed?
Having a plan in place to manage this type of manager is always better than being a victim of a Drive-By!