By November 21, 2009 0 Comments Read More →

You’re a Manager – Shouldn’t you have all the answers?

You’re a Manager – Shouldn’t you have all the answers?

If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that I don’t know everything. I’m constantly learning from others. As a Manager, do you really think you’re expected to know everything?

If you do, you’re turning your back on a wealth of knowledge that can help you be more successful. The best managers surround themselves with staff that know more than them about some area of the business – and then listen to them. The best way to be successful is to tap into the knowledge and great ideas of others, including your staff, colleagues and suppliers.

Often, facilitated solution sessions and group discussions can be used to solve problems and enable everyone to contribute to the solution. I don't mean managing by committee - I mean getting input from everyone that you can use to make decisions with.

The most memorable example of the power of teamwork in solving problems was from an exercise I participated in over 16 years ago. It was such a compelling lesson about teams solving problems, I still have the exercise booklet. The exercise is from a company called Human Synergistics and was a ‘Subarctic Survival Situation”. If surviving the cold doesn’t sound like fun, they have one set in the Desert and several other interesting situations.

In the exercise, you crash landed in Northern Canada, a subarctic region. You have 15 items that were salvaged before the airplane sank.

In the exercise, you each individually rank the items in order of importance. Then, your group works together to collectively  rank the same 15 items. Both the individual and group rankings are scored against rankings from experts. There’s a worksheet in the booklet for this. The lower the score, the better you did.

My individual score was 42. The lowest individual score was only 40. The average from our group’s individual scores was just over 49. Looks like I did pretty well, doesn’t it.

The real test, however, was the team score. It was a low 18. That’s a significant improvement over my individual score and represents a 63% improvement over the group average.

The much lower team score illustrated the value of teamwork in analyzing and assessing important issues about what was truly important to survival. Part of the reason is that we simply don’t have all the answers and need to rely on others, with their experience and knowledge, to fill in the gaps we have. With a group, we were also able to discuss and debate the merits - and potential uses - of each of the items, adding much more information than we have individually.

The fact that I kept the exercise book all these years demonstrates how compelling this lesson was.

Translating this to Management, it’s clear that your success isn’t based on what you know, it’s based on how well you combine what you know with the expertise and knowledge of those around you.

Using this strategy, you will be in a better position to develop solutions and initiatives that improve services, enhance efficiency and reduce costs.

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

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