The Drive Thru Manager

This week my daughter’s class at school watched a Ted Talk by Jamie Oliver about obesity.  Her big takeaway was that there are many people who have never learned how to cook and because of their socio-economic position eat all their meals from fast food restaurants.  One generation to another, overall health is declining because they never learned how to cook and simply use the drive thru.

A similar decline happens in business, on a much more immediate timeline, due to a drive-thru, fast food type of people management.

There are managers everywhere who have never known anything except the fast, easy way to manage people – from a hierarchical position of authority, with a heavy dose of telling and directing.  Like poor eating, It’s an easy habit to get into.

Too much work and not enough time for your team leads to shortcuts when it comes to people management.   Busy work takes the place of important work – the most important work you will do as a people manager.  Instead of personal meetings driven by the manager where you are truly listening, you say my “my door is always open” leaving it up to them.  When they do come in, they don’t get all your attention, and since they are only likely coming to you for a decision, that’s all they will get.  That’s drive-thru managing.  Fast food, when they deserve something fresh and home cooked.  Wouldn’t you?

Read more about when to close your open door here.

If this behavior continues unabated, then it becomes accepted, then it becomes expected, then it gets rewarded with promotions.  Then it’s modeled for the people down the chain, and as they are promoted, it’s the only way they know, too.  Before you know it, the health of the company declines as every manager is giving direction instead of engaging.

There are two easy changes you can make if you find yourself headed to McDonald’s,  First, making your own food takes time, so plan to spend 50% of your time (at least) on your people.  Think about and plan your interactions with the team and each individual ahead of time.  Prioritize this work before doing your own busy work.  Second, eliminate the drive-thru.  By creating regular interactions with your team, there will be less need for pop in meetings.  Give them more autonomy and ask for an email update after instead of them asking permission before.

Now get in the kitchen and whip something up!

If you’d like to Pick My Brain about your recipe for being a better people manager, click here and schedule a free call.

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