- April 4, 2020
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, Management
Over the years, I have developed a management philosophy I call the Four Non-Negotiables. Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared what each of them are and what they mean. This final week is about Non-Negotiable #4, Check Your Ego at the Front Door
Actually, the full title is “Check your ego at the front door and bring your brains inside.”
When you start to tell people you want things done a certain way, some people are going to have a problem with it. And other people are going to create problems because of it. We’ll talk about that in a moment.
I believe that nearly all conflict is generally ego driven. I want to do things my way and you want to do things your way. I believe I’m right, and you believe you’re right. And if those two things don’t match, conflict happens. If you paid even a little attention to the last eight years of Washington politics, you know what I’m talking about. Nobody has been happy, but no one is interested in listening to the other side, so nothing gets done.
Underperforming managers also create their own problems. They have a tendency to use their positional power to browbeat their subordinates into executing things because they — the managers — are incompetent. Using your positional power to get things done is just an ego thing.
We also made sure that people weren’t afraid of failing. Another ego symptom is that people are afraid to fail. They either don’t want to look stupid (which can be egotistical), or they don’t want to be made to feel bad (which is ego preserving).
So we made sure that people didn’t tie their ego too closely with their performance. Everybody who hired on with Robroy got a letter from me stating they would never be fired for doing the right thing. And they should go over, under, around, or through any obstacles to get themselves heard. Which means I gave them full access to me.
When I started, we had over 1,000 associates, which meant I was looking at the possibility of a lot of people coming to me. And initially there were. But as the managers and supervisors came to realize “check your ego and bring your brains” actually meant “check your ego and bring your brains,” life got an awful lot easier.
That’s because they were listening more, but more importantly, people were solving their own problems. First of all, the measuring system we implemented gave everybody the ability to measure their own performance, because the results were made available to them every 24 hours so they could manage their own performance.
Of course, it can be tough getting people to check their egos. To help fight that, I created a number of forums that were mandatory. For example, every day, there was a production meeting and every month, there was an operations meeting, and an operations management meeting.
I attended every one of these. And if I didn’t see full participation by everyone, then people were withholding because of ego, or people were dominating because of ego. So it was more a question of conditioning over time, because if you were qualified for the position — or you claimed to be — you should be able to do the job. You should be listening to the people around you, and encouraging them on the path to an accomplishment, rather than telling them what to do.
It’s easier in this system to get people to buy into a new idea. And it’s very easy to spot the non-performers. All the people who are intellectually and emotionally engaged in a performance-driven organization, and who manage their own performance, will very quickly isolate individuals who do not or will not participate. Those individuals will stand out. They stand out through their failure to perform, because people will work around them. It can be so bad, those individuals will have difficulty in actually executing anything.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business using the Four Non Negotiables as a template. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Couleur (Pixabay.com, Creative Commons 0)