According to Randy Komisar, writing for the HBR.org Blog Network, most of the time the best thing a manager can do is to get out of the way of the people actually doing the work. This is the principle behind what he calls “Minimally Invasive Management”.
Komisar quotes the late management guru Peter Drucker, who said: “So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”
Komisar says that the idea of Minimally Invasive Management reflects the challenges faced by tech-centred startups in rethinking the role of professional managers.
Minimally Invasive Management should be seen as a service – with managers serving the people doing the work. After all, he points out, no one is more important in an organisation than those actually doing the work.
Management’s role should be to remove all impediments to getting the work done, thus encouraging better standards as well as satisfaction and motivation.
Minimally Invasive Management comprises three primary jobs: hiring the right people, developing and serving employees, and removing employees where necessary.
It’s more of a challenge than it sounds, as Komisar explains:
“When you start your company, with a half-dozen people in a room, every job is important. Everyone is involved in every decision. Everybody is empowered. Everybody feels like a stakeholder. But then you add another half dozen people…. and another half dozen… and another half dozen… And then you start to see chinks in the armour. You start with a bunch of doers, but fall into dysfunction. Priorities aren’t being set. Conflicts aren’t being resolved. Communications aren’t clear. People don’t know what decisions are being made or why they’re being made. Morale starts to fade – and things slow down.
"That’s bad: in the world we all operate in, speed is everything.”
So you can’t get away with simply not managing – you need to resolve the issues that are preventing the work getting done as it should.