How to lead people

During my working years I have met many different management styles. What I have noticed that leading people is not done by following the progress. It’s done by leading and after that following. Most managers just follow the progress and report the progress. This is not how leaders should work.

The best management style I have noticed was by group manager that had very simple and laid back style to lead and follow the work. He kept meeting every week or two weeks. He had a task list of things to do. He distributed the unmarked task list at the beginning of each meeting. Then he asked who would do certain things that are new and distributed those tasks. Next week he would ask the status of those activities and would distribute new tasks.

This sounds simple and almost stupid, but it’s the best method I have ever witnessed. There is couple of reasons why this works so great. First of all, when tasks are distributed, people need to acknowledge the task on front of their peers. They just don’t take the task, they sort of promise to the peers that they are going to do it.

The weeks task list keeps people focused on the fact what they need to do. It could be they do it during the last evening, just to be able to say they have done it. They can miss it for one or two weeks and say they are busy, but they just cannot come continuously to the meeting and say that they haven’t done it. The peer pressure is there. Sometimes they haven’t do it all, but they have tried.

Also the method can be used without knowing the actual task for the next week. Like thesis worker case. Boss has very hard time to get grips what is the actual progress of the work and is there any progress at all. But just ask each week, what are your plans for the next week. Write it down. Next week ask was that task filled and what is the next weeks task. This method is amazing. Thesis workers are young and can be horrible at planning tasks and cannot divide big tasks to small weekly parts. But this simple question, what you going to do next week is all it takes. The thesis worked thinks suitable part of the job that is not too small so it would not sound unimportant, but not too big, so he could accomplish it in a weeks time. And he takes the task, or at least the part he is able to do. So he can say they have at least tried it.

And what is the most important, he determines the task at front of peers.

Problem with this method is that if you are the boss, you cannot attack the employees if they haven’t done the task. You need to trust that the peer pressure is enough. Don’t give any critic. Just mark it for the next week as ongoing task. Actually you should not care. Do not change the job to another worker easily, but be very accurate that the tasks are small and accomplishing is possible.

Problem with this kind of task list, is that you shouldn’t in any case say that it’s a promise list. Or that it has anything to do with peers, you should be casual with it. It’s just a small reminder list to help your memory. Don’t ever say that they promised, because they didn’t.

Of course this works best in tasks that have variable tasks that need to be distributed. It is not necessary to monotonic work. But the more new tasks there is, the better it works.

Also it’s very effortless way to keep you on track.

-JP-

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