Hire People You Can Trust to Do Their Job

How great companies turn crisis into opportunity

The right people don’t need to be managed. The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.

The right people don’t think they have a job: They have responsibilities. If I’m a climber, my job is not [just] to belay. My responsibility is that if we get in trouble, I don’t let my partner down.

The right people do what they say they will do, which means being really careful about what they say they will do. It’s key in difficult times. In difficult environments our results are our responsibility. People who take credit in good times and blame external forces in bad times do not deserve to lead. End of story.

I think he makes a very good point, but may overstate it just a bit. The right people do need management to do their job: to provide guidance, to work on improving the organizational system, to coach employees when needed, to plan for the future, to determine where to focus the organizations resources… But they don’t need to be micro-managed. They can be expected to do what is needed when the proper conditions are set, including a clear understanding of what is needed, communication of current conditions and changing needs, a shared understanding of roles (for people and organizations)…

Also, just to be clear, it can be the right thing to closely manage someone as they are learning. This is true when a new employee starts with the company. And also when they take on new responsibilities. I would have no problem with a company tightly managing a new supervisor. In my experience the exact opposite problem is much more common, moving people into supervisory roles with little support, to sink or swim on their own (well perhaps sinking those around them too). At both times they should get the support they need and the freedom they need to work effectively.

Related: Keeping Good EmployeesFlaws in Understanding Psychology Lead to Flawed ManagementPeople are Our Most Important Assetposts on managing peopleThe Joy of Work

4 thoughts on “Hire People You Can Trust to Do Their Job

  1. When is micro-management a problem with the employee, the manager or both? It’s important to weed out the bad candidates during the screening process. But there’s a fundamental difference between the toxic employee and the one who simply needs some occasional guidance.

    Years ago, an executive taught me that only a few employees will ever be top-performers; the challenge isn’t to expect everyone to become like the top-performers, but rather to expect the majority to do their job effectively.

    The challenge is to identify the needs of the individual employees and to give them just enough guidance to do the job effectively.

  2. What you are talking about here is actually Situational Leadership – people need different levels of management and support on different phases and different tasks.

    I know what it feels like to be moved “into supervisory roles with little support, to sink or swim on their own (well perhaps sinking those around them too). ” I could have used much more support a couple a years ago. Eventually I managed to swim and did not even sink people around me.

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