Management is boring! It, in fact, should be boring. Not only that – you know something is ‘managed’ when managing it becomes boring. But the problem is that we all crave excitement and we all want to be the hero. So managers make management much more interesting than it actually should be.
Imagine, because this might never happen, you have just left work on a six week holiday and you are uncontactable. There are a number of small projects in flight which you have left behind. But you know these projects are okay because the management of them is now boring. When you discuss them with the team the conversation essentially follows patterns which include ‘we are doing the next step in the plan’, ‘we have an issue and it’s with the appropriate owner’, ‘some specific task is delayed because we were performing other more important activities’, or ‘some specific task is delayed so we are spending more time on it instead of some less important task we were going to be working on’.
Getting to the point were these patterns of communication could be used wouldn’t have been easy – it never is – but getting to that point was the real work, was the interesting work.
When management becomes interesting is when there are no shared understandings of the priority of tasks, so there can be no genuine communication regarding ‘more important’ tasks. Equally, management is interesting when as issues occur there is no shared understanding of the ‘appropriate owner’ so no communication at that level can occur. It’s really intesting from a management perspective to have to have a long detailed conversation to find the ‘appropriate owner’ in each individual case – but do we want it to always be that way?
The point I’m making is that when management is clear the actual process of managing isn’t very interesting. The problem is – when you’ve worked hard to become a manager you want your job to be interesting. You don’t want to just be shuffling paper, ticking boxes, etc.
But there are only a few ways to make things interesting: get into the work itself, or make the management process interesting by complicating it. But getting involved in the work isn’t always helpful, and intersting management, exciting management, frequently changing management, is usually always bad.