I had a great breakfast with an old friend from M.I.T. He is an entrepreneur and told me about a person that he had working for him that he needed to manage closely.
The person needed his help to organize his tasks and meet his goals and the issue had been going on for a long time.
My immediate and strong response was that it is time for him to separate everyone in his organization that needs this help more than one or two times.
The reason is simple: Each person in the company needs to quickly get to the point that they can manage themselves and anyone that isn’t managing themselves is seriously holding back the organization. They are not getting their work done, they are using up valuable management time of other people, and they are reducing the ability of the organization to have a high performance culture.
While we didn’t discuss it, it is also important to lock in the employees that are at the opposite end of the spectrum. These are your employees that have a proven track record of getting things done, particularly the ones that can independently handle more complex projects and processes all the way through high impact.
Good people have increasing impact in an organization as they develop management skill, by first being able to manage themselves with short-term projects/processes and then longer term projects/processes. Some of the people will develop the capabilities and passion to manage short-term projects/processes that involve multiple people followed by longer-term projects/processes with multiple people. An even smaller number will develop the skills necessary to build and optimize a high-impact team or department. These skills are hard to build and hard to execute.
The people that have developed to the point that they build teams of high impact people are the absolute most important people in your organization, so recognize them and do what you need to do to both develop and motivate them for the long term (including things like recognition, compensation, increasing responsibility, and access to mentors).
My friend sent me an e-mail a couple of days after our breakfast. He told me that the conversation clarified what he was already thinking and he was going to execute against my recommendation. I expect that he is going to find out what everyone else that has pruned people who can’t manage themselves finds out: When it comes to talent management, his organization is going to be freed up and is going to be able to do more WITHOUT those people than it was able to do WITH those people.