4 steps to relieve management and eliminate the bottleneck

With these four steps you create a foundation that relieves management and eliminates the bottleneck

Do they feel the bottleneck, the so-called “bottle neck”? Pressure at the top from management, pent-up frustration among employees. The tighter the bottleneck of overburdened management and stressed employees, the less you will get relief and open space for redesign. The 4 steps of the Bottle Neck Expansion Chain can help.

As a rule, management positions are characterized by having to show responsibility for as much as possible – the flair for new things of freshly graduated managers is quickly tired. Instead of creating signposts, one or the other quickly becomes entangled in micromanagement, begins to control or even to act – in things for which others could actually be responsible.

Asked around what the motive is for more autonomy, self-organization and the like in companies, I was surprised: Change towards empowered teams that can determine a lot themselves is not primarily initiated from the outside. One might think, for example, what needs to be done to attract Generation Y (= i.e. those born from 2000 onwards). This is not the case, although it is certainly important to pay attention to this aspect, keyword shortage of skilled workers. Surprisingly, however, the most sustainable initiatives to promote teams with as much decision-making power as possible come from management itself. Why is that?

Bosses and bosses are alone

Managers, bosses and chiefs suffer because they think they have to do something for the team:

  • Delegate correctly
  • Keeping people “in”
  • Inform
  • Above all: Steer people who “don’t want it right” in the right direction.
  • Possibly, there is also the scenario of a culture change, which would have to be designed somehow…

In short, there is a lot on their shoulders and the full responsibility also lies with them – and them alone. And here we are at the bottleneck: everything is piled up with the managers, and in the worst case, a culture of playing up prevails; please decide at the top. As a result, things are left undone, and supervisors, team leaders and other managers are overburdened.

Responsibility is delegated upwards

For example, it looks like that even leaders push up and the boss of the whole (in this case a municipality in which I was consulting) has 70 mails a day on which he should decide. The sub-chief is so “fine out”, who he passes the responsibility upwards. And this especially if he “actually has a different opinion” or if the agenda item bores him. Something like this does not feel funny for the manager “higher up” and he may ask himself: what opportunities for action are there for me?

The initiator to create more independent teams is right here: If the responsibility is delegated back down, there is more air “upstairs”. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Being in leadership shouldn’t just mean micromanagement, but getting into an attitude of taking responsibility in different places. In times of New Work and uncertain planning horizons, it’s more than ever about coordination and making things happen. About empowerment, coaching, but also demarcation and self-management.

Leadership must move – 4 Possible Steps

Let’s return to the bottle picture: Bottle-neck in leadership continues to increase. This results in various congestion among senior executives, which also has an atmospheric effect. Bad feelings downward arise, because those “in the jam” talk badly upward; they feel they are not considered enough, they have to wait. The joy of “delivering” decreases when what is delivered is then in a pipeline.

Employees become silent and, in the worst case, self-important where they should not be; trust decreases because all eyes are directed upwards.

At this point, at the latest, leadership must transform. The best way to do this is with a plan and a resolution: The 4 following chain links make up a new whole, where all those involved can shine more with their dedication to the whole:

Step 1: The classic tip from leadership – give confidence.

Try – if you don’t already think about your employees in an appreciative and potential-oriented way – to change the direction of your thinking. Employees are hired to make a difference and achieve. Not to stand in front of the red light stop sign. These potentials should be allowed to contribute.

This is about the image of man and then about demanding and promoting. A human image – in which one is negatively biased, unfortunately, does not bring life into the joint, but slows down.

Many are now afraid of defeatist employees; these would not want and sometimes also not “can”. Yes, they do exist. You do not have to select them for great deeds. Let the spirit that you want to move forward blossom in the right people. There may be quieter employees who do “their job” as long as they do it reliably well. Your supports are the ones who should be familiar with your ideas and thus encouraged – also by means of your trust – to really contribute. This is a first step that you give up responsibility a bit in the potency of others and trust in them. But do not neglect to involve the other employees in the flow of things, because they should calmly see that it can go forward splendidly and winningly. You will change the spirit in your office this way.

Matching article: Strengthen trust with optimized information flow

Step 2: Transparency is everything

Start sharing information – based on this trust. Only when employees are fully in the picture do you draw from your own for the benefit of the whole. This also means: think about how you create transparency on a permanent basis. Without yourself always being the – exactly – bottleneck. Are there automated “pipes” e.g. from a cockpit or dashboard that you want to open? This way you hit several flaps, because you don’t have to do everything yourself.

Fetch guilt is also a virtue that has been forgotten. Encourage or remind people to ask for the information when someone needs it. A culture of transparency should apply to everyone. And create space where what is found and what is important is shared. Turn meeting agendas upside down and start sharing information. In a circle, of course, so that everyone feels addressed and shares. Handle feedback carefully and consciously. Information that is based on a very personal principle of transparency is appreciated and taken seriously. It is important to give yourself and others time to develop in this way.

Step 3: Create clarity about processes

The best resolution is of no use if its implementation is not thought through. Hand over responsibilities by letting decisions be made on the basis of a functioning exchange of information. But make sure – and as a leader this is your responsibility – that a decision is also to be implemented. Have the relevant processes been defined and adapted, and have the stakeholders who are also involved in the processes been informed?

Finally, also consider which micro-decisions you can delegate away by defining framework conditions: who is allowed to make editorial changes if everything is clear in material terms? How much financial leeway should employees have to make decisions? Only with the framework can an increased transfer of responsibility succeed. Also define your expectations. You will notice this very clearly when you realize that you would like something, expect something or when you are dissatisfied with processes. Feel out the “facts” and set the rules on what you need to feel safe. In addition, let your employees have a say in what you need: from you, from their colleagues.

Steps 4: Give yourself time and space for personal development – of everyone!

With the right people, things will work out first. As a leader, you have the responsibility and the competence to develop your employees to where you want them to be. This works with trust and transparency and processes, but also has a personal part. You will notice that not all employees want to think along with you and signal their willingness to take responsibility. Or you will notice insecurities; or instead of trust you will encounter cynicism. There are different stages of neglected employees or employees left to their own devices. Often it is not malicious intent or sloppiness, but too little cultivated culture of a requirement to contribute and participate.

Empowered employees and teams cannot be conjured up and wished for. You have to keep at it. And you have to inform in particular which behaviors and thus also skills are required. Practicing participation requires a significant amount of self-awareness, courage and fear management. So it is up to the management, which wants to expand the bottle hold and create free flow, to sensitize, to educate and, on the contrary, to sensitively impart self-organization skills with trainings. No path to self-confident and participative employees is done with magic tricks and wishful thinking. You must strategically desire and address a cultural change here. And your guiding star is: relieve management – empower employees.

Diverse Hochschulabschlüsse in Geisteswissenschafen und public wie nonprofit-Management. Führungserfahrung, DACH-Bereich-Positionierung. Dozentin an diversen Hochschulen zu Personalentwicklung, Wissensmanagement und Innovationsförderung und Diversity.

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