It is no secret that work today is more demanding
than ever. With the bottom-line orientation of budget-constrained
organizations as the new way of life, the increasing need for output
without a proportionate increase in personnel is driving shareholders,
executives and managers to demand more from those who work for them, as
well as from themselves.
Getting recharged and tackling tough decisions in these tough times
requires a new, hardened approach by managers, with an eye toward
pragmatically achieving results. Everyone in businesses of all types
and sizes faces this new reality: the requirement to do more with less,
deliver more and increase more without a total emotional drain.
The work environment of today requires what I call tough management,
which is a way to approach work in a practical, reasonable and
organized way to get to decisions more easily, make the numbers on a
consistent basis, have those around you understand where you stand and
increase the business.
There are seven steps to practice tough management:
- Communicate clearly. Though many senior executives and
managers feel they communicate well, the message does not always get
through. Tough management requires an abundance of communication that
is clear, concise, timely and truthful. Clear communication that is
clearly received aligns those creating strategy with those executing
throughout the ranks.
- Force the hard decisions. The majority of executives
and managers say their superiors do not deal with tough decisions right
away. Managers need to collect all the necessary information available
at the time, make the decision, communicate it and then move on.
Forcing the hard decisions also requires forcing office politics out of
Focus on results. Every manager must identify exactly
the results that matter most at any given time, and determine actions
that produce those results. This requires focus, working smarter and
harder, increasing productivity and delegating. It also means being
more realistic about what results are being demanded by those doing the
demanding as well as those who are being demanded to execute.
- Remain flexible. Managers need to be organized so they
can change directions quickly to keep pace with the changing needs of
their organization and customers. Executives and managers are under
increasing stress at work, especially because there is more to do than
there is time to do it. This means pushing back and saying no at times. It also requires stopping something, such as institutionalized tasks, projects or meetings at work.
- Prove your value to the company. It is essential that
you align with your company’s values so that you can prove your value
inside the enterprise. This means accepting even more new challenges
and becoming the person everyone turns to for solutions. However, there
is a fine line between proving your value and having the organization
take advantage of you.
- Force collaboration. Teamwork is required at every
level. You can force collaboration by mapping vision statements
specifically to members of the management team, with integrated
results. This requires a high level of information sharing and a
willingness to learn.
- Don’t be a tough guy. You can deliver quantitative
results without being brutal to subordinates in the process. This means
that executives and managers should take pause at work, since workload
and hours worked are getting out of control, potentially causing lost
perspective. It means breaking away, improving employee morale and
taking steps to protect the talent. It involves recognizing people for
doing a good job and providing what’s necessary for them to do their