Now that we have explored the concept of Reactive Management, in addition to providing common examples of is leering presence, perhaps it would be best to identify common causes. This management style does not just grow in office chairs, nor is it cultivated and nurtured like plants in an attended garden. No, this management style springs up out of the field of good intentions due to the gardener’s neglect. Reactive Management is the weed that takes hold of the soil, and chokes out the crops.
So why did the gardener neglect his field, why has the American Corporation neglected its managers? It is simple, they got busy and distracted. We are all guilty of such action, but what is the cause? What is the underlying catalyst for this presentation of symptoms? That is what this section is devoted to. Considering the breadth of the subject matter and the length of the list, we will only elaborate on three of the most commonly experienced distractions. We will explore the ideas of Data Choke, Promotion of the Unqualified, and Lack of Ownership.
First, let us speak to the idea of Data Choke. If you were an Engineer in the 1950’s designing a power plant for a large electric utility, chances are you were in a very large department. You would have most likely worked in a large Metropolitan area such as New York or Chicago, came to work every day with your lunch box, and take a seat at your drafting table. Your drafting table would have been surrounded by 40 or more drafting tables with other Engineers seated at the helm, maneuvering through the massive design of the power plant, all while maintaining communication with the rest of the fleet. The slide rule was your computer, and Becky, the nice and kind secretary was your word processor and email software. This would have allowed you to focus on the two drawings that you needed to finish that day so the next group could start the structure details. It would allow you time to walk over and check with Bill to ensure that your elevation marks were correct. At the end of the day you would go home and leave your instruments behind…and hopeful Becky.
This world offered a level of quality and expertise that we have lost over the years. Now people send and receive multiple correspondences a day, are covered up with fruitless meetings, and when they arrive at their home late at night, their blackberry keeps them tied to the office. The modern Engineer, Manager, fill in the blank, is strapped down with the work load of multiple men. This has become increasingly worse since the invention of the fax machine, and has progressed to a crushing level since the internet. But what does this have to do with Reactive Management? Glad you asked!
I am sure that you, the reader was surprised, and excited at the amount of focus and “clarity of thought” that a day off, or better yet a vacation, can provide your mind. Well this level focus appears after such instances because the mind has released the stress causing ties that has it choked from operating at its peak performance. In today’s world, we never allow the manager to think or digest the information that he is feed, instead….we just keep forcing more down his throat with meetings, email, phone calls, etc. When does he have time to exercise critical thinking on a difficult situation? When does this manager have time to bounce ideas off of his “Bill?” We all know the answer to this of course….he doesn’t. With this being explained, it is fairly easy to see the manager has only two choices that he can make. Those choices are for him to rely solely on his manager to lead him around by the nose, or for him to make quick and “decisive” decisions. Obviously the second choice is more preferably, and if you are lucky enough to have a manager that has multiple years of experience in your area and is an exceptional and knowledgeable resource, then you are most likely in good hands. Sadly that is not how we promote people into management. We promote individuals based on other criteria which are to be explained later. Nonetheless, this leaves us with a universal truth. Experienced managers are decisive, inexperienced managers are reactive. If you take only one thing away from this blog…remember this fact!