Be an Anti-Manager

Organizations introduce management controls to reduce output variance, and managers manage their people to gain productivity. But the best productivity tool is meaning, and the problem is that management limits meaning. Too much management is counterproductive.

When you manage your employees or your team members in a project, every mistake that a management tool corrects also takes away their ability to use their own judgment and makes their job less meaningful. When you manage, your people don’t solve problems; they do what you tell them to and then they check a box. This certainly makes things predictable and cuts down on variance. It also severely limits the value you get out of your people. Their value stays untapped because you aren’t letting them (or demanding they) use it.

Aspire to be an anti-manager. Whereas a manager’s first instinct is to figure out how to manage a person’s output, an anti-manager looks to avoid managing it. Anti-managers first look to inspire their employees. Instead of telling their people what to do, an anti-manager asks her employees what to do. When you inspire your people to stop relying on instructions and checklists, they use their unique talents to create far more value than can be managed out of them.

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