Whether it’s “DevOps,” “digital transformation,” or even “cloud” and “agile,” middle-management is all too common an issue. They simply won’t budge and help out. This isn’t always the case for sure, but “the frozen middle” is a common problem.
With a big ol’ panel of people (including two folks from RedMonk), we talk about tactics for thawing the frozen middle.
For my monthly column over at FierceDevOps I wrote about the importance of setting goals. I was motivated to write this by this point being repeated in Leading the Transformation many times, e.g.:
Management needs to establish strategic objectives that make sense and that can be used to drive plans and track progress at the enterprise level. These should include key deliverables for the business and process changes for improving the effectiveness of the organization.
It made me think that most of the corporate failures I’ve seen over the years were due to management being vague about what they wanted and what the team should be doing. Someone has to set the goals and, at the very least, it’s management’s job to make sure its done (they don’t have to do it, though I tend to think they do: they just need to make sure it happens).
Anyhow, check out the piece!
The workers were told, essentially, that they were to be rewarded for collective achievement rather than individually. So instead of maximizing individual satisfaction, which often comes through competition with other people, employees considered their impact on colleagues. The theory, which plays out in the results, is that with relative rankings, top performers reduce their effort to avoid hurting their co-workers’ egos and to prevent schisms in the team.
That’s kind of sweet actually. One would also think that the incentives are disconnected from the thing you’re trying to fix: if you had to pay for all that fuel yourself, out of your take of the margin, would you be more efficient or less? That’s probably unreliable as well. Also: you’d think these tricks of fleet management would be long solves, e.g., all that lore about UPS and Fedex trucks. But, there’s probably tons of ongoing change and variability in all that.
Also: notice the Big Data angle, the technology that enabled the study.
Team work bringing down the average