“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Jessica Jackley
According to Matt Casey, the author of The Management Delusion- The Easy Way to Do a Hard Job, it’s very difficult to be a good manager. He doesn’t think management training is the answer. Instead, he advocates for what he calls “lazy management.” The following is taken from an article by Stephanie Vozza.
He came up with this idea when he was the managing director of Moonfruit, a U.K.-based website-building service provider. After reviewing his responsibilities, he decided that it would be better if some of them were handled directly by his employees. What he chose to delegate might surprise you. They surprised me!
Performance Review and Bonuses
For example, instead of evaluating employee performance from 1 to 5 and then giving bonuses, he gave everyone a 3 by default. He told them he would talk to them if he thought they deserved less than that and explain his reasoning. If employees felt they deserved more, they were encouraged to meet and tell him why.
“Everyone got their score exactly right,” he says. “If they felt they were worth more, they came to me with the number I would have given. The people who were given threes might have griped and been unhappy before making this change. But the onus was on them. They knew they didn’t have a case, and so they didn’t make it.”
The employees were also made responsible for telling him when they thought they deserved a pay raise. This made it okay for the employees to ask for more money and eliminated the risk they might feel overlooked.
“It would be no longer my responsibility to talk about what you’re worth,” he explained to his team. “I told them they would never get a raise unless they asked. If you’re complaining about not being paid enough, come talk to me and present your case. It’s completely fine and expected. The moment you do, the whole problem can be solved.”
Casey also delegated the approval of vacation days to the employees. He felt he was inconsistent or tardy in approving vacation requests, and he did not like having to be responsible for checking to make sure work would be covered.
“I told them, ‘You handle it,’” he says. “‘For me to be counting days became stupid. I’ve hired you to do the job. Make sure not being at work doesn’t impact everyone else. As long as you get your job done, I don’t care how many days you take off.”
Casey’s approach was successful, rebuilding the business and making a profit each year.
“There is an expectation that some people might take advantage and see this as an opportunity to do little as possible and exploit the freedom,” Casey says. “But no one did. It’s almost as if being treated like an adult encourages you to act in a more adult way. When there were more boundaries, people pushed against them. When they were taken away, they didn’t have anything to push against, so they did their job.”
Lazy management also created a social contract, says Casey. “Everyone liked having the freedom,” he says. “No one wanted to be the employee who jeopardized it. It created a level of trust among the employees.”
What do you think? Would this management approach work in your organization?