My managers and I always start with good intentions, but sometimes we get bogged down in the details.
How do we see our way to effective action?
In one store region operating model project I worked with a group of department manager level partners who were hard workers, but they would forget things frequently. They would start work on something, but couldn’t remember the next step in a process unless they had performed it dozens of times. As I watched this over and over again, I came up with a simple memory model for what they were supposed to accomplish each shift.
In animal packs such as dogs and wolves or primate communities such as apes and chimpanzees one male emerges as the recognized leader or in other words, "the alpha male." Every other member of the pack or community takes their lead from the alpha male. In organizations, there also exists an alpha male – those natural leaders who willing take on responsibility most of their contemporaries find overwhelming. Unfortunately, these driving individuals may at times leave a wake of destruction in their path alienating subordinates with their hard-driving, winner-take-all, result-driven personality. What if there was a formula for raising the performance of all managers in an organization to the “alpha male” level without the baggage associated with this dominating style? There is…
To accomplish anything in an organization requires a management staff with Knowledge, Skills, and Leadership. First, some simplistic definitions:
- Knowledge – Awareness of what needs to be accomplished, e.g., tasks
- Skills – The ability and experience to review the tasks needing accomplishment and assigning the resources to accomplish the tasks
- Leadership – High-level application of knowledge and skills to consistently accomplish the tasks with the resources available in the time available
A systematic application of Knowledge, Skills, and Leadership is the basis of the formula for achieving “alpha male” performance across an organization without the baggage. This formula is called “The Alpha Management model” and is an easy-to-remember acronym which all members of an organization can follow to improve execution. The acronym is ABCDEF and stands for Accountabilities, Breakdown and Communicate, Document Execution and Follow up.
- Accountabilities – Knowledge of what is important to the organization and needs to be accomplished.
- Breakdown – The skill of prioritization of what accountabilities are accomplished first.
- Communicate – The skill of clearly exchanging information within the organization to ensure the right accountabilities are being accomplished at the right time.
- Document Execution – Writing down who is accountable for each accountability, what was communicated, and the results achieved. Measurement with metrics.
- Follow up – Applying leadership time to ensure the accountabilities are completed on target, on time, and on budget.
A couple of examples to illustrate the use of the Alpha Management Model.
A. Shift work being managed using the alpha management model.
- Review Shift Change documents with departing Shift Manager ensuring that the departing shift has completed their work. (Do not accept their unfinished work except in rare exceptions)
- Review the Accountabilities for the your shift
- Breakdown the Accountabilities for assignment to specific people on this shift then clearly Communicate the Accountabilities to each person with an expectation for completion by a certain time.
- Document which person is responsible for the Execution of each Accountability on the shift.
- Follow up with the assigned people frequently to check on progress and reallocate the work if needed. (Do not wait to follow up until the end of the shift, monitor progress when corrective action can be taken)
- Complete the Shift Change documents and review with the incoming Shift Manager noting any special information that needs to be passed on. (Do not hand-off unfinishedAccountabilities from your shift, instead be prepared to hold people over to complete their assigned work)
B. IT Project being managed using the alpha management model
- Review the WBS for the work completed to date
- Review the Accountabilities/Tasks that are scheduled to worked on/completed this week
- Breakdown the Accountabilities and assignments for specific people on the team then clearly Communicate the Accountabilities to each person with an expectation for completion this week.
- Document which persons are responsible for the Execution of each Accountability on the WBS.
- Follow up with the assigned people frequently to check on progress and reallocate the work if needed. (Do not wait to follow up until the end of the week, monitor progress when corrective action can be taken)
- Update/Document the WBS and prepare for the upcoming week noting any special information that needs to be passed up to management. (Do not perform a right-shift on your schedule, instead be prepared to hold people over to complete their assigned work)
Give the “Alpha Management” model a try for a week in your personal life and you will notice remarkable changes. Your focus will shift towards your important Accountabilities and you will find yourself accomplishing more – and more of the right things.
In your business Holland & Davis can assist you with developing and implementing an Alpha Management culture within your organization. Our Strategic Planning can assist you in defining the Accountabilities, Project Management to prioritize and document, and Change Management.