The best role for an adaptive manager is to serve as a guide for a team. Learn how adaptive managers can get the best value from their team of workers.
- To understand how to manage adaptive workers, we have to first understand what work is and by breaking down work into its components, we can better understand how an adaptive manager could get the best value from the work of a team. Defining work is a lot easier than you might think. Work is quite simply our skills applied to tasks to solve problems and generate results. Four components, skills, tasks, problems, results. So let's take a look at a few examples. When a worker is say doing janitorial work, the result a manager wants is a clean floor.
The problem to be solved is a dirty floor. The tasks to be performed are activities like using a broom and a mop and the skills that are used are abilities like sweeping, washing and scrubbing or if a worker is doing product management, some of the value that worker can create is a new product strategy. The problem to be solved is often a need for a new source of revenue and the skills that are used to solve that problem include researching, analyzing, synthesizing and developing. Every worker no matter what they're doing is a problem solver.
The worker's role is to solve, hopefully, rather than to create problems and a team therefore is you guessed it a group of problem solvers and they have a pool of problems to be solved. Now, in the old rules of work, it was thought of as a managers job to define exactly which worker should solve which problems. The manager had to have all the answers, divvying up tasks to each worker and then telling that worker how to do their work but in rapidly changing times, we need to treat workers like they actually know what they're doing.
The best role for an adaptive manager is to serve as a guide for a team as the team itself determines who should solve what problems and how. It's only when a team member isn't able to figure that out that a manager should step in to offer guidance. So how does that adaptive manager do this? There are three important steps. First, the manager needs to align the strategic goals of the organization and the division with their team. Only by having explicit knowledge of what the organization is working to accomplish can a manager effectively guide their team.
What are the problems to be solved and the results to be generated by the work of that team? How are those goals connected to the goals of the organization? That connection needs to be clear and explicit and needs to be communicated on a regular basis to the manager's team members. Second, the manager needs to help each worker understand their own unique skills and other attributes and the ideal conditions under which they can use those capabilities. By knowing what makes each worker tick especially their best loved skills, the tasks they most love to perform and the problems they most like to solve, the adaptive manager is in a far better position to help guide workers to do the tasks which they're best suited for.
This is obviously a lot easier if workers have already gone through some kind of process of self-inventory just like the manager should. And finally, the adaptive manager needs to make sure there are clear agreements about the problems the worker needs to solve and the results to be generated. Only if the team gets off track or if an individual worker isn't effectively able to perform certain parts of their work should the manager step in to provide more guidance. How does this help the manager? By doing these three things, the manager's team will be far more prepared to rapidly adapt when disruptive change comes along.